Think you need to be “sales-y” to work in insurance? Think again. Whether you’re a shy but analytical introvert, or an outgoing and aggressive extrovert, there’s a place for you in the wide-open field of the insurance industry. If you want to know what the aforementioned industry’s all about, read on.
What Insurance Professionals Do
Insurance goes hand in hand with risk management. Here “risk” refers to the chance of loss due to a certain event: a fire, an illness, or any sort of harm to your million-dollar legs. As an insurance professional, your job is to help people make informed decisions regarding those risks, whether you work on the front lines as a sales agent or in the back office as an actuary.
Is Insurance the Right Career for You?
To be successful as an insurance professional, you need to have the following qualities:
- Critical thinking. No matter what case gets thrown your way, you can stay calm, come up with a solution on the spot, and execute said solution perfectly. This is especially important in insurance, where you’ll rarely meet two clients who have the exact same needs.
- Knowledge. When a client bombards you with questions about your products, you can answer all of them without batting an eyelash, thereby inspiring confidence in your client.
- Clear communicator. Not all people know what terms like “vis major”, “ex-gratia payment” and other insurance terms mean. That’s why you should always talk in a way that your clients will understand you from the get-go.
- Honesty. You don’t have to lie, or even exaggerate, in order to make money from your clients. In fact, your clients will probably be relieved to know you’re the exception to the “all insurance salesmen are sleazy” rule.
- Integrity. Although sainthood isn’t a requirement for an insurance professional, it’s easier to score clients when you don’t mess up the little things that matter, like showing up for a coffee meeting on time.
- Organization. If you like to keep things nice and tidy, there’s zero chance of losing vital client files and getting shouted at over the phone.
- Salesmanship. When you think of a “salesman,” you probably think of a good-looking guy with a winning smile and a nice suit. Actually, salesmen are simply people who have a good grasp of human psychology and know how to use it to their advantage.
- Persistence. Even the best salespeople get doors slammed in their faces once in a while. But they keep selling anyway.
- Passion. It’s not uncommon for insurance professionals to work more than 40 hours a week, so you’ll have to really love your job.
- Empathy. If you know what makes people tick, your job becomes a whole lot easier. For example, you can give clients tips on how to lower car insurance bills without sounding condescending or intuitively predict the chances of a smoker falling back into old habits without too much guesswork.
Do you meet most of these requirements? If “yes”, you’re probably a good fit for the insurance industry. If “no”, try working on the qualities you lack before giving up and considering another field that’s a better fit for you.
Opportunities, Outlook and Training
Since the U.S. insurance market is going strong in 2015, there’s no reason not to take an insurance-related job. Careers you can pursue in this field include the following:
This is probably the most well-known job in the industry. As an insurance agent/broker, your job is to sell policies to the people who need — and who might need — them. If you like selling and working flexible hours on a commission basis, you’ll thrive in this line of work.
- Education: High school diploma/equivalent
- Training: An agent/broker can usually pick up all the necessary skills on the job. However, they do need to earn a license according to their state’s requirements. They can also earn certifications from the likes of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, FINRA, The American College of Financial Services, and The Institutes to become more competitive in their field.
- Median annual salary: $35,064 (excluding bonuses)
Ever wonder how premiums are calculated? You’ll find that out — and more — if you work as an actuary. Actuaries use their knowledge of statistics, risk management and other related subjects to determine how much to charge a client based on factors like the client’s age, health, lifestyle, marital status, medical history, etc. Because they have such an important responsibility, actuaries rake in one of the highest salaries in the business.
- Education: bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, statistics, mathematics and other fields that rely heavily on numerical analysis
- Training: Aside from on-the-job actuarial work, actuaries can gain a competitive advantage by passing exams from the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society.
- Median annual salary: $80,360
Whereas actuaries determine how much a client should pay, claims adjusters determine how much a client can To handle this oft-delicate situation, a claims adjuster has to be tactful, empathetic and an excellent negotiator all at the same time.
- Education: High school diploma holders are accepted, though bachelor’s degree holders are preferred
- Training: Like insurance agents, claims adjusters get a leg up in their careers through on-the-job training, getting a license according to state requirements, and continuing their education.
- Median annual salary: $46,839
Loss Control Specialist.
Loss control specialists inspect business areas, check them for potential hazards, and suggest safety measures to protect against those hazards. To do this, they must have adequate knowledge of engineering, risk management and safety management.
- Education: bachelor’s degree in any engineering field, or in industrial or occupational hygiene
- Training: Unless you’re a systems safety engineer, you don’t need to have a license. If you want one, you can take an exam administered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals or the American Board of Industrial Hygiene.
- Median annual salary: $63,348
Underwriters determine whether a client is an acceptable risk for the insurance company, based on actuarial calculations and other factors. They can either work full time in the office or go into the field to inspect insured properties.
- Education: Bachelor’s degree holders preferred; those with relevant work experience and strong computer skills are accepted
- Training: Certifications are usually required in this field. Entry-level underwriters can take a course by the American College of Financial Services, while those who have at least three years of work experience can opt for the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation from The Institutes.
- Median annual salary: $50,844
As you can see, the insurance industry welcomes professionals from all walks of life. If this post managed to convince you to take the plunge, don’t think twice about reading through all the sources linked to above, and start paving your way to a successful future career!
Exploring careers in business? Be sure to check out the entire series of career exploration posts!
A Career in Real Estate
A Career in Marketing
A Career in Business Law
A Career in Finance
A Career in Accounting
A Career in Insurance
A Career in Supply Chain
A Career in Human Resources
A Career in Management
A Career in Sales
A Career in Consulting