With the jobless rate stuck at a frustratingly high level, many individuals are finding themselves searching for lasting career opportunities. At the same time, the US insurance industry is actively seeking new talent, as it expects upwards of a 50% turnover in its workforce within the next 15 years. In addition, the supply of graduates from the nation’s risk management programs currently provides only 10-15% of the industry’s employment needs. (1)
So how can motivated individuals take advantage of this incredible career opportunity? Here are five steps to finding a lasting career in the insurance industry:
1. Leverage your strengths
It’s important for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the insurance industry to realize that it’s an incredibly diverse field. There’s literally something for everyone.
Mathematically or financially inclined? Actuarial science applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk.
Self-motivated and driven? You may do well as a producer, finding new clients and servicing existing accounts.
The great news is that insurance executives appreciate new talent from outside the industry—they know that insurance-specific training can be added to your existing skill set to create an outstanding employee for the long-term. Unlike many other fields, there is more than one way to enter the industry, so don’t be intimidated because you don’t have proven insurance experience on your resume yet.
2. Identify available industry sectors
The insurance industry is incredibly broad, encompassing all aspects of society. Insurance carriers, brokers and agencies offer services within Employee Benefits (including wellness programs and health insurance), Personal Lines (including homeowners, life and auto insurance) and Property & Casualty, or P&C, which is focused on businesses that may be small and locally owned or large and globally focused. Your own career experience or interests may push you toward one field or another. Again, that’s the “beauty” of insurance—it allows you to bring valued services to clients within an area that interests you personally.
3. Find a Mentor
Once you’ve pinpointed or narrowed your area of focus, find someone with whom you can discuss your interests. CEOs of leading property and casualty carriers and brokers continually cite “managing talent” as one of the industry’s top three priorities, so you should expect a warm welcome.
Most insurance organizations have a website to help you pinpoint contact information, so that’s a great place to start. Three sites to start your search:
4. Get Educated
If you are currently in Elementary through High School:
- The Griffith Foundation offers free resources to students and teachers interested in the insurance and risk management field including:
- Insurance Literacy Standards, which uses age-appropriate lessons for grades 4, 8 & 12 to reveal the impact of insurance on daily life decisions and also provides an overview of insurance industry career options.
- The Service-Learning and Insurance Education Guide helps middle and high school students develop and evaluate insurance-related service learning projects.
Both resources are free to schools upon request, and information on each can be found on the Griffith Foundation’s website as listed above. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Acutaries also offers a joint web site, www.BeAnActuary.com, which allows students to fully explore the actuarial field through articles, course checklists, quizzes and videos
If you are currently in College/University level:
- There are over 43 US colleges and universities with an active chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the international risk management, insurance and actuarial science scholastic fraternity. Offerings include an annual national conference, scholarships, assistance with internships and opportunities for interaction with industry executives. Go to www.gammaiotasigma.org for more information.
- The Big I has created InVEST, a program specifically targeted to nurturing talent from “Generation Y,” including robust internship opportunities already in place with insurance agencies and carriers such as Travelers, Chubb, Harleysville and Westfield.
- The number of colleges and universities offering specific degrees in risk management and insurance (RMI) or actuarial science (AS) continues to expand. Even if your college does not offer a specific degree, you can explore opportunities by taking RMI or AS courses through the college of business or math department.
If you are currently in Career Change:
- As already mentioned, most insurance organizations are investing in continuing education for their employees. With your expressed interest in an insurance career, most will work with you to gain any required certification or education once you agree to employment. If you’re interested in pursuing continuing education on your own, you may want to begin by contacting a college or university with RMI programs or by beginning a general online search of insurance continuing education credits.
The insurance industry is eager to get you involved, so the most important step is the first one. Regardless of your education level, having an interest in the broad possibilities afforded by an insurance career is your entry ticket to a lucrative future. There’s no need to wait–jump in and get started!
Source: (1) Data from participating RMI schools; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Digest of Education—Building a Talent Magnet: How the Property and Casualty Industry Can Solve Its People Needs; McKinsey & Co.