A Long-Term Look At 4 Common Insurance Career Paths


In the insurance industry, there are nine “gateway” roles that most new grads start in, such Broker, Underwriter, Claims Agent or Actuary, for example, but endless different paths you can pursue within the industry from there.

“One thing the insurance industry is known for is mobility – it’s common for people to have experience in multiple career paths over the course of their careers,” says Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute of Canada.

He recommends trying the role that seems like the best fit for you now and going from there.

“If you start out working in claims but then you realize underwriting might actually be the best career path for you, for example, you can definitely find ways to transition into that area of insurance later on,” Trevor says.

As long as you obtain the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation early on in your career, you’ll likely be able to move fluidly through the industry over your career. (The only exception is actuarial roles – Actuaries must have strong academic backgrounds in mathematics or statistics and complete a series of qualifying exams.)

But you may not want to move around after all. Each individual career path within the insurance industry provides a ton of variety and opportunity for progression for people who are committed to doing their jobs well and learning as much as they can along the way.

Keep reading to learn more about the long-term paths of four popular careers in insurance: sales, underwriting, claims and actuarial.



Where you’ll start: Junior Broker or Customer Service Representative

How to get ahead:

  • Be good at your job – achieve sales targets and keep your customers happy
  • Demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning – attend seminars and other industry events to learn as much as you can about the products and services you sell
  • Enhance your licence – as a Broker or Agent, you must be licensed in the province or territory that you work in, and you can complete additional programs to continue your professional development

How your insurance sales career might progress:

  • Advance your knowledge and experience, allowing you to gain more independence, grow your book of business (i.e., work with more clients or higher-value clients – kaching!) and have more opportunities to work with clients one-on-one
  • Move into team lead, supervisor or management roles, responsible for a team of Brokers or even several branches of a brokerage
  • Become a subject matter expert in a certain type of insurance, such as marine, aviation or environment
  • Try other functions within the industry, including underwriting, new business development, risk management or adjusting



Where you’ll start: Underwriting Assistant or Junior Underwriter

How to get ahead:

  • Build strong relationships – Underwriters work with Brokers to determine if the insurance company will insure a Broker’s client, and at what rate, premium, exclusions, etc., so you’ll need to create and maintain excellent working relationships to keep both the Brokers and your insurance company happy
  • Meet your goals – putting the right insurance policies in place will keep consumers happy and protect your employer from unnecessary risk, so you’ll be recognized and rewarded for making the right choices

How your underwriting career might progress:

  • Work with more complex policies that present a higher degree of risk, such as vintage cars, century homes or people with lots of speeding tickets, for example
  • Experience more freedom and discretion to determine the rates and premiums on the policies you put in place
  • Move to a different specialty area within one company or experience different specialties at a number of different insurance companies (did you know that some companies specialize in insuring casinos, for example?)



Where you’ll start: Telephone Adjuster, Contact Centre Representative or Assistant Field Adjuster

How to get ahead:

  • Handle all of your claims well – Adjusters are measured on their ability to handle claims properly and promptly, and provide customers with all of the information they need about their claim to get on with their lives
  • Detect fraud – insurance fraud costs companies money and can artificially raise premiums, so adjusters who can find and manage fraudulent claims are celebrated as the heroes of the insurance industry

How your claims career might progress:

  • Act more independently without being supervised in the office or on the field
  • Specialize in areas that require additional knowledge of legislation and experience in dispute resolution, such as accident benefits or liability, for example
  • Move up into team lead, supervisor or manager roles, overseeing teams of more junior Adjusters
  • Become an Independent Adjuster representing multiple insurance companies when they don’t have the expertise in-house or there is a higher volume of claims than usual



Where you’ll start: Intern or Junior Actuary

How to get ahead:

  • Accumulate subject-matter expertise – expose yourself to and get training in as many different areas of the industry as possible
  • Complete your exams – Actuaries must achieve professional status by passing a set of exams offered by the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries

How your claims career might progress:

  • Work on projects that involve a higher degree of risk
  • Analyze trends and make recommendations on how to manage those trends
  • Establish rates and premiums for products
  • Move into managerial positions leading teams of other insurance professionals


Insurance is already part of everything you do.
Why not find your career in it? To learn more, visit www.career-connections.info.


Visit TalentEgg’s Insurance Career Guide, presented by Career Connections, a division of the Insurance Institute, to find student and entry level jobs in the insurance industry, plus career resources to help you hatch your career!

About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.