As the Seattle economy continues its robust recovery from the Great Recession, the outlook for home sales – and for those who work in real estate and mortgage lending – continues to improve. According to Seattle executive recruiting firm Allen Partners, business-based degrees make applicants particularly competitive for both seeking and retaining their jobs. And for mortgage advisor Dan Mellis, a business degree was pivotal for launching his career.

Mortgage Advisor Dan Mellis (photo courtesy of Dan Mellis)

Mortgage Advisor Dan Mellis (photo courtesy of Dan Mellis)

“I earned a bachelor of science in quantitative economics from Cal Poly in 1985,” he stated. Directly afterward, Mellis became a stockbroker at American stock brokerage and securities firm Dean Witter.

“My degree helped me significantly with understanding the financial markets and interest rates,” Mellis stated. “Dean Witter was the first broker that I interviewed with and they offered me a job right out of school.”

The education Mellis received is particularly helpful in his current role as a mortgage advisor with Mortgage Advisory Group, which has offices in Bellevue, Everett, Marysville, Mill Creek, Woodinville and Wenatchee, Washington. He has been with this company for the past 1.5 years and has eight years of mortgage industry experience. And to remain competitive in the job market, mortgage advisors also take continuing education.

“We’re required to do 10 hours of nationally certified continuing education and an additional 10 hours of in-house continuing education for company certification from Fannie Mae,” Mellis stated.

A business degree provided Mellis with the latitude to move from stockbroking to the mortgage industry, and he advises future college students to choose their majors and minors wisely.

“While my degree’s official title was quantitative economics, it was actually in a more specialized area called econometrics. Conceptually, I remember the information really well, but much of the specific tests that are done in econometrics, I haven’t done since I studied it 30 years ago.”

He added, “There were some aspects of my education that I wish I could go back and review if I had a chance to do it over again.”

Mellis advises finding a fine balance between aptitude, interest and earning potential.

“Study what you enjoy, but in a field that will help you earn a living. In today’s economy, if you’re going to study business, spend the extra one or two years and get a master’s degree. Try to go as inexpensively as possible for the first two years, earning your prerequisites at a community college, and then try to get a four-year degree while only spending two years at a major institution like the University of Washington. You can then move on to a master’s degree.”

With the Seattle area’s rapid job growth in the financial and tech sectors, Mellis also reminds students who are interested in business that they don’t necessarily have to major in business for their bachelor of arts or bachelor of science. They can specialize in business at the master’s degree level.

“If you’re skilled in engineering in technology and software programming, coupled with an MBA, that would make someone a particularly strong candidate,” he stated.

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on


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