How Can You Become Successful in Insurance? – The Best Insurance Careers

LasoBaby boomers have dominated the insurance industry ever since it started to take shape. Combined with Gen Xers, they make nearly half (48%) of the insurance workforce, as stated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, we can safely assume that majority of this workforce will be retiring soon. If you’re on the lookout for fulfilling insurance jobs and planning to build insurance careers, this is one good reason to start preparing for it.   

Whether you’re a newbie who needs career counseling, or a professional looking to change career, we intend to guide you through the insurance careers here. We’ll explore the most lucrative insurance careers you can pursue in 2020 in this blog.  

Insurance Agents – The Insurance Sales Genius  

Moreover, insurance agents sell policies from one or more carriers to their clients. Their main job is to help customers identify their risks. And, to find the product that best suits their needs. There are mainly two types of agents: captive agents and independent agents. Captive agents can only sell policies from a single carrier, while independent agents have the freedom to sell policies from multiple carriers.  

Regardless of the type of agent, an agent’s customers can be individuals as well as businesses. They work in three primary insurance lines, i.e., life, health, and property and casualty (P&C) insurance. Prospecting, generating leads and converting leads into sales consume much of an agent’s time. For this, they have to keep their schedule moving, meet new people, and work mostly in the field. Thus, insurance agents have a reasonably stressful but highly flexible job.   

Requirements and relevant skills: 

  • A high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree in courses like business, law, marketing, or psychology, is preferred more.  
  • A state license, along with the completion of the pre-licensing course.   
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.    
  • Persuasion and influence skills to convince customers to buy policies to cover their needs.    

Insurance Agent Salaries 

The 2018 median annual salary for an insurance agent was $50,600, which comes to $24.33 per hour. The job outlook rate for 2018-2028 is 10%, which is very impressive and faster than average!   

Insurance agents can earn a lot more and beyond this. But it all depends on how good they are at what they do. Since insurance agents’ salaries are commission-based, the more policies they sell, the more they earn.  

Growth Prospects: 

Furthermore, insurance agents can apply for titles such as Accredited Advisor in Insurance, Certified Personal Risk Manager, and Certified Insurance Counselor. These accreditations denote insurance professionals. They demonstrate superior knowledge in their field compared to an average agent.  

Claims Adjuster – An Investigator of Claims! 

Claims adjusters investigate claims made by the insureds. For instance, if a third party runs into an insured’s garage with his/her car, the insured’s homeowner policy will cover it. But the adjuster needs to research, take interviews, and obtain all necessary information about the situation to assess the claims. Only then, further processing of the policy will be possible.  

Similarly, adjusters can split their time between office work and fieldwork. Their job requires traveling to clients’ places or the destination of accidents, primarily to assess damage during accidents and disasters. An adjuster’s job is not so stressful than other insurance jobs, yet assures flexibility in the work schedule.   

Adjusters can work for insurers and offer a claim that best suits the company’s interests. Or, they can work for the insureds and negotiate for more than what the insurers offer. It is one of the reasons why the market for adjusters observed growth in recent years. According to Statista, a pioneer in global business data platform, the growth of adjusters was visible in 2009. And it accelerated from 2012. By 2019, the market size of third-party administrators and insurance claims adjusters reached $256.27 billion.   

Requirements and relevant skills: 

  • A high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree in risk management and insurance is preferred more.  
  • A verified course in insurance adjusting, a pre-licensing course, and a subsequent licensing exam should be passed.  
  • Work experience or knowledge related to the respective line of insurance.   
  • Close attention to detail and observational skills.   
  • Exceptional negotiation skills to arrange the best interests for whom they’re working.   

Claims Adjuster Salaries

In addition, the median annual pay for claims adjusters was $65,000 in 2018. It breaks down to $31 per hour. But the job outlook for this insurance career is a negative 4% between 2018-28. However, the industry has about 346,000 adjusters. It has a decent market for career growth.    

Growth Prospects

As per the level of experience in claims adjusting, adjusters may apply for senior designations like Claims Supervisor, Director of Risk, or Claims Services Manager. Moreover, insurers also seek for adjusters who specialize in the related fields of the policies they sell. Thus, specialization makes the possibilities of building insurance careers nearly endless for prospective adjusters.  

Insurance Underwriter – Be A Risk Assessment Expert!

Additionally, insurance underwriters are professionals who evaluate an insured’s application for coverage and calculate the premium. With actuarial, statistical, and background information, they specialize in assessing risks. For this, underwriters require sensible judgment and meticulous attention to data.   

They set compelling premiums for agents and minimize risks for the insurers. Similarly, this job creates a balance between risks and rewards for which passion for finance. Also for strong analytical skills, and a knack for making calculated decisions is a must.  

Unlike agents and adjusters, underwriters work full time. They spend most of their time working on customers’ applications. But they may require handling customer inquiries sometimes. Depending on the carriers, some property and casualty underwriters may also need to travel to assess properties in person. But it is very rare. Overall, their job doesn’t allow flexibility and is stressful than an average insurance job.  

Requirements and relevant skills: 

  • Bachelor’s degree in courses like math, business, finance, or economics.   
  • Excellent communication skills. You’ll need to get the right information with the right questions.   
  • Calculated decision-making skills and great attention to detail.    
  • Ability to use enterprise resource planning and financial software.   

Insurance Underwriter Salaries

In 2018, the median annual pay for insurance underwriters was $69,380. It breaks down to $33.36 per hour. However, insurance underwriters are slowly losing their jobs because of technology. It is also because of automated insurance technologies. Between 2018-2028, the outlook job rate for underwriters is a negative 5%.  

Growth Aspects 

Experienced underwriters can opt-in for specialty designation of Associate in Commercial Underwriting (ACU) and Associate in Personal Insurance (API). The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (AICPCU) awards the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation too. Similarly, depending on the carrier and options available in the state, executive positions in the company and other advancement options may be open.  

Insurance Actuary – The Most Challenging Insurance Job to Break into! 

Furthermore, an insurance actuary is one of the most challenging insurance professions. Their role is focused on risk assessment and research for carriers. Also, they use statistics, mathematics, and financial theories to analyze the risk that an event will occur. It is to help businesses minimize the cost of that risk. Their job also involves projecting potential risks and claims that will affect the company. So, they usually deal with statistical data more than people.   

Like insurance agents, actuaries also specialize in the three major insurance lines. Breaking into these insurance careers need passing many exams and not to mention, the competition is very high! Besides, insurers heavily rely on actuaries for risk assessment. This pressure can be too much for some people to handle. Their job is also limited to office work and rarely involves field visits, restricting flexibility while adding stress.   

Requirements and relevant skills: 

  • Bachelor’s degree, with a background in statistics, economics, or finance.   
  • Ability to use analytical and database-oriented software.   
  • Certification from the concerned society in the designated line of insurance like the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries.   
  • Strong technical and analytical skills.    

Insurance Actuary Salaries 

Being an insurance actuary is one of the highest paying insurance jobs on the market. In 2018, there were 25,000 actuaries, compared to 475,900 insurance agents. The median annual salary for Insurance Actuaries was $102,880, which is about $49.46 per hour.   

Not only is the pay good, but they are also in high demand. For 2018-2020, the job outlook rate is 20%, which is much faster than any other insurance job.   

Growth Prospect 

Also, advancement and growth opportunities for actuaries depend mainly on job performance and the number of actuarial exams they pass. For example, actuaries who have achieved fellowship status supervise other actuaries. Then, they provide suggestions and advice to senior management. Similarly, actuaries with a broad knowledge of risk management can get executive positions like chief risk officer or chief financial officer.   

Those were our top picks for the best insurance careers and jobs that you can pursue in 2020. Was it helpful to decide which insurance jobs fit your skills and interests?   

If you’re still confused and don’t know which type of insurance career to choose, here is a visual representation to compare these careers.

  Salary  Qualification and Education Required  Job Outlook  Growth Prospects  Stress Level  Flexibility 
Insurance Agent  $50,600  Mediocre  10%  High  Medium  High 
Claims Adjuster  $65,000  Mediocre  -4%  High  Medium  Medium 
Insurance Underwriter  $69,380  High  -5%  High  High  Low 
Insurance Actuary  $102,880  High  20%  High  High  Low 


Thus, the number of green flags in each career option pretty much sums up our suggestion here. Yes, if we were to propose the best career option, that would be insurance agents. Now connecting back to the captive and independent agents – discussed earlier – let us tell you which type of agent has more benefits. Undoubtedly, the answer is independent agents! Let us present our take on this suggestion as well:  

  • Freedom and Option to Build a Brand of your Own

Likewise, independent insurance agents have more freedom in their work. They can start an agency of their own and work to build a brand out of it. Unlike captive agents associated with a carrier, independent agents face their own business. From hiring their first employees to growing their agency, they’ll be the in-charge in every step. Independent agents can also make their schedules; they are their boss. They can set meetings at their preferred time and meet as many clients as possible. Also, they also develop connections as freely as possible.

Likewise, according to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, a national association of independent insurance agents, independent agencies grew by 10% in 2015. Additionally, growth in an independent agency means plenty of room for independent agents to prosper in the market.  

  • Earn More Than an Average Agent

Likewise, independent agents can sell policies from multiple carriers from their agency. They readily have an option to provide numerous alternatives to their customers. It guarantees more sales. High sales mean higher commissions. And there you go – you’ve paved a way to earn more than the average salary mentioned above.   

  • Unparalleled Support 

An independent insurance agent can also get full support of a field marketing organization, or FMO. It is something that captive agents can’t do. Also, FMOs can offer support and resources for self and agency development. A carrier might not be able to provide that. For example, webinars, additional training, and even marketing materials to grow their book of business.   

Well, these are just a few appealing benefits of becoming an independent insurance agent. There are many other long-term benefits in this career. You can explore further and gain more expertise. As for this blog, we don’t want to keep you reading and delay signing up for becoming an independent insurance agent.  

But if you have extra room for dessert, here is a bonus tip! The best entry-level insurance job to target as an independent agent is in the P&C sector. Likewise, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, direct lines of premiums written for all lines of businesses under P&C companies were worth $670 billion. On the other hand, direct premiums for life insurance (including life, health, and accident) were $166 billion. The difference portrays how profitable and flourishing this sector is.   

Lastly, we hope you found this blog informative and our suggestions on the insurance careers helpful. Let us know what you think about these insurance jobs and becoming an independent insurance agent in the comment section below! 

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