How to Become an Escrow Officer in 5 Steps
Are you thinking about a career as an escrow officer or manager? This article covers the steps you need to take to enter this field and includes salary information, licensing requirements, an escrow manager job description, and more.
What is an Escrow Officer?
An escrow officer (also known as an escrow manager or an escrow agent) is a professional who acts as a third party during real estate closings and transactions. They do not work for the buyer or the seller of the property and must remain impartial to ensure that transactions are handled fairly and legally. If the closing is successful, the escrow officer will also approve and handle the disbursement of all involved funds.
How to Become an Escrow Officer: Steps and Career Information
If you're wondering how to become an escrow agent, you can follow these five steps to become a professional escrow agent or officer:
- Earn a high school diploma
- Earn a college degree
- Learn relevant on-the-job skills
- Start building experience as an escrow assistant
- Satisfy all eligibility/licensing requirements
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
Many escrow officer or agent positions have a high school diploma as a minimum educational requirement. If you are an adult and you do not have a high school diploma, you can earn an equivalency diploma like a GED. The GED exam can be challenging and requires serious preparation, but many community colleges and other adult education institutions offer comprehensive GED study programs.
Step 2: Earn a College Degree
You may find that some escrow officer positions require, or simply prefer that you have a college degree. Completing an undergraduate degree program may give you an edge in the job market by covering the skills you need to succeed in the position, and can even give you the chance to forge professional connections through internship opportunities. An associate's or bachelor's degree in real estate or a related major might be particularly helpful for future escrow officers.
Step 3. Learn Relevant On-the-Job Skills
There are many important regulations and procedures that an escrow officer needs to know about to perform their job properly. Additionally, an escrow officer must know how to use industry and office software, and how to communicate with customers and co-workers effectively. If you have never worked in an office setting before, a clerical training course can introduce you to common office tasks and equipment. An internship or entry-level admin job at a title insurance company or real estate office can also help an aspiring escrow agent develop basic skills and see what really goes on in this position.
Step 4: Start Building Experience as an Escrow Assistant
As most escrow officer positions require licensing and some previous experience in the profession, you might first need to spend some time in a more junior position, such as an escrow assistant (or escrow processor). While most of these jobs still require some experience or familiarity with the field, some companies are willing to train. These positions often do not have licensing requirements, so pursuing a job like this might be a good way to gain the knowledge and work experience required to satisfy the final step towards becoming a licensed escrow officer.
Step 5. Satisfy All Eligibility/Licensing Requirements
In some states, an escrow officer or agent must have a state-issued license before handling a closing. This may be called a title insurance license or an escrow agent license, or something similar. The specific procedures for earning a license can also vary from state to state, but might include taking an escrow officer training course and passing an exam.
You may also need hours of relevant work experience before becoming eligible for this process. A fee is another typical requirement, as well as a criminal background check and fingerprinting. Licensed escrow agents may also need a type of insurance called a surety bond, which is a contractual agreement that allows clients to be reimbursed in case the agent fails to uphold their contractual or legal obligations. Lastly, an escrow agent might need to become a notary public before doing business.
Escrow Officer Salary and Career Requirements: Fast Facts
|Required Education||High school diploma; college degree may be preferred|
|Licensing||Some states require an escrow officer license, becoming a notary public, or both|
|Required Skills||Trustworthiness, reliability, attention to detail, organization, communication, customer service skills|
|Job Growth (2020-2030)||2% (for all title examiners, abstractors and searchers)*|
|Median Salary (2021)||$50,829**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com
What Does an Escrow Officer Do?
Escrow officers can be found working for title insurance agencies, real estate agencies/attorneys, lending services, or independent escrow companies. Besides establishing escrow accounts and coordinating real estate closings according to the terms and conditions of the contract, an escrow officer handles other important administrative tasks, such as:
- Depositing and handling escrow funds/documents
- Ordering title commitments, tax certificates, loan documents, and other necessary files
- Resolving any existing issues with a real estate title such as liens or defects
- Scheduling closings and preparing closing documents
- Informing customers of the current status of the closing process
- Maintaining escrow documents and records
- Ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations
- Keeping a portfolio of clients and previous closings