How To Become an Escrow Officer in 7 Steps
An escrow officer is an important role in any real estate closing. They help make sure that the real estate transaction goes smoothly and act as an impartial third party to securely hold on to funds from purchasers. If you want to work in the real estate field in a more administrative position, you may consider a career as an escrow officer. In this article, we explain what an escrow officer is and what they do, provide steps to becoming an escrow officer and discuss the national average salary for the position.
What is an escrow officer?
An escrow officer, or escrow agent, is a professional who helps real estate buyers and real estate agents understand and work within the escrow process. As a key part of the closing process for real estate transactions, an escrow officer works with all parties to make sure the necessary money is in escrow and the transaction can continue without major issues.
Escrow officers work for title agencies, real estate firms, real estate attorneys and lending companies, and typically work normal business hours, although they may need to work late to complete a real estate closing.
What does an escrow officer do?
An escrow officer has several responsibilities, including:
Meeting with clients to explain the escrow process and answer questions
Holding money from real estate buyers in an escrow account
Writing clear escrow instructions so clients know the steps they must take to deposit their escrow
Researching the validity and insurability of the title to a real estate property
Providing settlement updates and estimates to real estate agents and clients
Making sure all sales and escrow documents are in compliance and meet lender requirements
Obtaining clients' signatures on escrow documents
Scheduling and preparing for closings
Approving the disbursement of escrow funds during closing
Providing all parties with an escrow balance statement
Following title insurance laws and all state regulations
How to become an escrow officer
Follow these steps to become a successful escrow officer:
1. Earn a high school diploma
A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum education requirement for most employers that hire escrow officers. Being able to show that you've attended high school is important because of the minimum requirements for the position, but also because a high school education introduces you to foundational knowledge that can help you find success in your career. You'll learn basic math, English, computer skills and may be able to take electives in communication, psychology and other subjects that can relate to being an escrow officer.
2. Get a college degree
Not all employers require that a candidate have an associate or bachelor's degree, but some may, and in either case, having a relevant college degree can help you stand apart from the other candidates who're applying for the same position as escrow officer. Consider reviewing some job listings for escrow officers to see if there is a trend in what most employers require or prefer in their candidates. You may see most employers list an associate or bachelor's degree as a preferred qualification.
While you're in school, consider majoring in a topic like business, real estate, finance or a related field. You can take electives in information technology, business ethics, accounting and business management or other subjects that will help you build knowledge to support your career.
3. Build your skill set
You can share your skill set with hiring managers on your resume, within your cover letter and during an interview, so explore how you can build your skill set to appeal to an employer and show them why you're a good fit for the company's open position. Some skills to develop to become a successful escrow officer include:
You can enhance your skills set while you're in school, by volunteering, completing an internship or working other jobs before you start in your career as an escrow officer.
4. Gain relevant experience
After graduation, consider applying for more entry-level positions in the field, like a real estate assistant, legal assistant for a real estate lawyer or accounting firm where you're responsible for balancing statements and managing a budget. You can even work as a receptionist or file clerk at an independent escrow firm which can introduce you to professionals in the field and may be an employer you can grow with.
5. Apply for a state license
To work as an escrow officer in some states requires that you have the appropriate state-issued license. Licensure may require specific escrow trainings, a passing score on an exam and relevant work experience, so check with your state so you know what you should do to excel in your career and be able to work in the position you're interested in. You may also need to complete a background check, process your fingerprints and pay a fee.
6. Obtain insurance
To become an escrow officer, you may need to obtain a surety bond, which is a kind of insurance that gives clients the ability to get their escrow funds back if there is a contract break or someone doesn't fulfill their obligations. Many employers that hire escrow officers require this insurance so they can provide their clients with confidence that the real estate transaction will go as smoothly as possible.
7. Become a notary public
While you may not need to be a notary public to work as an escrow officer, many hiring managers prefer it. Having the ability to notarize important documents, particularly in a real estate transaction, means you'll be able to assist in a greater capacity. If you're a notary public, it's another way to stand out from your competition when applying for positions.
Salary for escrow officers
The national average salary for escrow officers in the United States is $60,011 per year, although your geographical location can make a difference in your salary. For example, escrow officers in Detroit, Michigan, report making an average of $54,891, while those in Phoenix, Arizona, make an average of $65,100 per year.
Common benefits that escrow officers receive from their employers include:
401(k) with employer matching
Paid time off
Flexible spending account
Employee stock purchase plan
Health savings account
Jobs similar to escrow officers
If you're interested in becoming an escrow officer or working in a related field, there are several job options you might consider. Here's a list of 10 jobs similar to escrow officers:
10. Insurance agent