Industry Guide: Careers in Insurance
Learn about available roles, top companies, and how to get started.
In a world which is filled with unexpected risks, many people are looking for ways to keep their money safe and reduce their chance of experiencing financial losses. Insurance is the field which helps people and companies protect themselves from unexpected risks, by allowing customers to purchase insurance products and receive financial claims if a loss arises.
Most people have heard of the insurance industry, but not as many have considered the many unique careers in the field. Jobs in the insurance industry are expected to grow by around 0.3% from 2018 to 2028, but there are certain jobs in the field which are growing much faster than average, including sales representatives, actuaries and software developers. Approximately 2.8 million people work in the insurance industry, and even now, it has a relatively low unemployment rate of 4.8% (as compared to the national unemployment rate which is currently around 8-11%).
There are many different types of insurance, including health insurance, life insurance and annuities, property and casualty insurance (such as homeowner’s insurance which is used to protect homeowners from losses if a fire, accident, or natural disaster damages their property), enterprise risk insurance (protecting companies from financial risks), reinsurance, and catastrophe insurance. Some of the insurance firms you may have heard of include Liberty Mutual, Prudential Financial, State Farm, Metlife, New York Life, Geico, Aflac, Cigna, PURE Insurance, and UnitedHealthcare.
Many of the jobs in the field are common in other industries, including:
Sales: there are about 393,470 insurance sales people in the USA. To get started, you don’t need extensive experience or education, though you do need to pass a state exam and earn a license to sell insurance. The job is expected to grow by 10% through 2028, faster than average. Sales agents earn a median of $50,940, but there is potential to earn all the way up to $125,500. As with other sales jobs, earning potential reflects the sales person’s persuasiveness, communication skills, and persistence; and many jobs are paid by commission, which can mean top sales people can earn at the top of the range.
IT and software development jobs exist in most insurance firms, not only to create websites, but to manage and analyze large volumes of confidential data, such as insurance claims. The median salary for a software developer is about $103,620 and this is one of the fastest growing occupations in the USA, expected to grow by 21% through 2028.
Managers and supervisors coordinate and supervise the work of administrative and other staff, and there are about 59,330 people in the insurance industry with this type of role. They earn approximately $66,000 to $70,000.
However, there are many specialty roles in the field that you may not have heard of. Many of these roles offer entry-level positions, and can be a great fit for students with academic backgrounds in business, humanities, or social sciences. These include the following:
Underwriters look carefully at people’s applications for insurance and make decisions about whether to provide insurance to them, and under what terms. For example, someone who does underwriting for car insurance would analyze the applicant’s driving record, how many miles they drive per year, and the type of car they own. There are about 86,620 people working in this type of job and it pays a median of $70,020 per year. Underwriters usually have a college degree, and most pursue certifications in the field, like the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) certification.
Claims adjusters, examiners and investigators are responsible for analyzing insurance claims and determining how much the insurance firm must pay for them. They may investigate different claims, talk to medical specialists, review police records, or communicate with witnesses to accidents to assess damage and prevent insurance fraud; and they often negotiate claims. If you are analytical but still value people-facing work, this job may be right for you. This occupation employs more than 208,000 people, and average salaries are around $68,000 per year. Most people in the field have a bachelor’s degree plus on-the-job training.
Insurance claims and policy processing clerks work in an administrative capacity to process applications for insurance, make adjustments to policies, and pay out claims; there are about 213,640 people working in this type of job and it is growing about as fast as average. This office job does not generally require a college degree and pays a median of $40,750, but it requires strong customer service skills and attention to detail.
Risk consultants or Loss Control Specialists help clients avoid insurance claims by preventing accidents and losses in the first place. For example, to prevent worker’s compensation claims, a loss control specialist might do an assessment of the work environment and make sure workers are trained in the right safety procedures. In a health insurance company, these professionals might be health coaches or health educators, teaching insurance members to eat healthier food or reminding them to get their flu shots. Occupational health specialists can earn around $74,000 and the job is expected to grow about 7% through 2028.
Actuaries are specialty mathematicians who use statistics and financial theories to analyze and assess the financial costs of different risks. To become an actuary requires you to take and pass several difficult exams to become certified. While this is a relatively small occupation, employing about 25,000 people, this job is expected to grow by 20% through 2028—much faster than other occupations—and pays an average of $108,350, with most actuaries earning between $64,860 and $193,600.
Attorneys in the insurance industry typically defend the insurance firm and its policyholders in lawsuits. It takes 3 years of law school, plus passing the bar exam, to become an attorney, but the payoff can be good—median salaries are $122,960 and the occupation is expected to grow about 6% through 2028.
So how can you start your career in insurance?
Included on our list of industries with the best job security, insurance is a great industry to consider. The diversity of available positions means that there are opportunities for students from all academic backgrounds to find a role that suits them. But it can be intimidating to know where to look in an industry that isn’t always highlighted in school. Here’s a few ways to get started:
Look for insurance companies that invest in professional development and have a built-in, paid training program for roles like claims adjustment or underwriting.
When you enter the insurance industry as a new grad, there will be a lot to learn. And if you are hired for an underwriter or claims adjustment role, you will also need to receive certain certifications before officially starting. Finding a company that understands the learning curve and invests in training will make your entrance into the insurance industry a smooth one.
PURE Insurance, for example, is a fast-growing organization that provides comprehensive property & casualty insurance in the high net worth market. The company seeks out candidates with a wide range of experiences and has no requisite for work or internships in the industry for their underwriting and Member Advocate roles. To support new employees, PURE provides a comprehensive, paid training program to help employees obtain the necessary certifications and skills they need to succeed. This member-owned, purpose-driven organization has a track record of investing in their people, so you can expect to grow professionally in a fulfilling career far beyond the initial paid training program. Learn more about PURE Insurance and their opportunities for new grads here.
Keep an open mind when considering your career opportunities.
Insurance is an industry that may have never crossed your mind – but it’s important to keep your options open as you evaluate where to begin your career. Put aside any misconceptions you might have about the industry, and take the time to learn about the breadth of opportunities available. From sales to software engineering to claims adjustment to actuary work, there’s a host of opportunities in this industry suited for all academic backgrounds. On top of that, there’s a diverse range of companies offering their own unique cultures and work environments.
Get familiar with the range of insurance companies out there
There are thousands of insurance companies of all types and sizes in the U.S., which gives you a lot of choices when evaluating where you’d like to work. With so many options, do your research to uncover things like career growth opportunities, company mission, D&I initiatives, and social impact goals, and be sure to ask the right questions in an interview to learn about a company’s culture.
You can also sign up for RippleMatch and get matched with top insurance companies offering a range of great positions. Click on the links below to learn more about each company hiring on RippleMatch:
AIG is a global insurance company that provides a range of insurance products including general property/casualty, life insurance, and retirement and financial services.
The companies comprising the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies® currently make up one of the country's largest insurers of vehicles, homes and small businesses, and provide a wide range of other specialty insurance and financial services products.
Gallagher is one of the world's largest insurance brokerage, risk management services and human capital consulting firms.
PURE Insurance is a purpose-driven, member-owned organization providing comprehensive property & casualty insurance in the high net worth market.
The Travelers Companies, Inc. is a leading provider of property and casualty insurance for auto, home and business.
UnitedHealth Group helps people live healthier lives and helps make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealthcare is the insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group and the largest single health carrier in the U.S.
Zurich is a leading provider of commercial property-casualty insurance solutions and services in the U.S. and Canada.
The insurance industry has countless opportunities for all majors, from computer science to humanities to business. If you like the challenge of analyzing risk, working with numbers and finances, ensuring accuracy and handling details, or helping people find the right insurance plan for them, consider starting – and growing – your career in this promising and secure industry.