Discover How to Start Your Career in Insurance

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On April 25th, we hosted an Office Hours with Career Connections to talk about how students and new grads can start their career in the Insurance industry!

Here’s our conversation!

TalentEgg
Hey Students and New Grads! Welcome to our Office Hours with Career Connections! My name is Akemi and I’ll be moderating our chat today. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome our amazing guest expert from Career Connections, Trevor!

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Good afternoon everyone – I am super egg-cited to be here to answer your questions abut careers in the insurance industry! I have been with the Insurance Institute – Career Connections team for the last 7 years and involved in Career Development for the last 15. Yes, I started when I was 10 ;-). Look forward to today’s discussion!

TalentEgg
Thank you so much Trevor! Here’s our first question.

Thayani, a Mathematics and Statistics student at the University of Toronto asks:
“How can I start a career in Insurance with a Mathematics and Statistics degree?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Thyani – a Mathematics and Statistics degree positions you well for many careers in the insurance industry. For example, you might consider becoming an Actuary. Actuaries love math, statistics, probability, and computer-based modelling. They essentially determine the likelihood of risks becoming a reality, their frequency, and their severity. Actuaries also play a key role in determining how much we pay for particular types of insurance to ensure there is enough money in the premium pool to take care of the needs of those impacted in the event of a claim.

But, that is not the only role you might find interesting: Underwriters and Risk Managers also require a high degree of analytical skill and logic. Underwriters essentially determine which risks an insurance organization can take on…while Risk Managers spot trouble before it happens and put appropriate plans into place to containerize or mitigate risks.

More information about these roles is available in our Talent Egg Profile and on our Career Profiles available on the Career Connections website. You can even watch a video of real life professionals working in these roles to learn more.

Jessica, a Business Economics student at Brock University asks:
“What kind of skills do I need to have to be in an analytical position in the Insurance industry?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Thanks for the question Jessica – Typically, analytical roles in the insurance industry require someone who is has a keen eye for detail, is a strong communicator, is skilled in making complex concepts accessible and easily understood by others, can understand that not all decisions can be solely based on data, and is solutions focused

Underwriting, Actuarial, Risk Management, and emerging roles in IT and data science and analytics are examples of business areas where you can put strong analytical skills to use in the insurance industry.

Joachim, a Global Management student at Royal Roads University asks:
“What one skill can be considered as the key determinant for career growth in the Insurance industry other than hard work?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Hmm… Joachim, that is a tough question. There are many skills that can help you grow your insurance career. That being said, for me, I think ‘curiosity’ is a key factor. If you are curious – you are asking questions, gathering information, and likely being resourceful in helping you determine the best course of action. Seeking clarification, making connections, committing to learning as much as you can and showing genuine interest in your work can go a long way in distinguishing yourself as an employee and insurance professional.

Amy, an Engineering student at Western University asks:
“What types of academic backgrounds do you look for when hiring for entry-level positions in Insurance?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Amy – great question! The good news is that insurance is essentially a part of everything that we do in life and in business. There are also a wide array of roles available in insurance that help to drive the business forward. That means that we require professionals with diverse educational backgrounds and experience to fill our talent needs.

You can learn more about how your Engineering background can apply to roles in insurance in the Education section under the Post-Secondary tab on our website. You can also explore our career profiles to see which roles might be a good fit with what you are looking for and are in keeping with what you have studied!

Charles, an MBA student at Vancouver Island University asks:
“How do the fields of finance and Insurance connect with each other? Can I specialize in finance in the Insurance industry?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Charles, insurance is actually the third pillar of the financial services sector. So, it is intertwined and connected to finance in a multitude of ways. In fact, the other two pillars, banking and investment/wealth management could not exist as they do today without insurance being in place.

Finance also plays an integral role in the insurance sector itself. Our finance departments are responsible for managing our cash reserves and investments to ensure that there is enough money available to pay out claims and comply with the regulatory framework in place to govern the fiduciary responsibility of the insurance company to its clients/policy holders.

So, there is an opportunity to specialize in finance in the sector. That said, you can also put your financial expertise to good use in roles like underwriting, risk management, and even claims. I would encourage you to learn more about these roles in the day in a life profiles available on TalentEgg and in the Career Profiles on our website.

Penolopie, a Mathematics and Economics student in the University of Alberta asks:
“What kind of work experience can I get working as an intern at a Insurance brokerage?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Penolopie – as an intern at an insurance brokerage, you would gain quite a bit of insight in terms of how the industry works and how an insurance policy is put into place to protect an individual or business – whether it be their property, protection against personal or professional liability, a vehicle, etc.

This is all valuable insight and can be leveraged not just in broker roles in the future – but, likely would come in handy in underwriting, risk management, and claims as well. I would also suspect that you would have the opportunity to hone your relationship management, communication, and problem solving skills.

Kevin, a Business Management student at the University of Waterloo asks:
“What types of entry-level opportunities are available for new graduates who are keen to start a career in Insurance but have no prior experience?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Kevin – thanks for your question. Insurance is a field where the hiring managers assume that in entry level roles, you have little to no direct insurance experience. So, don’t worry! There are roles available – whether they are in claims, underwriting, brokering, etc. – your university degree is likely enough to get you in the door.

That said, you will also want to look to your transferable skills to support your application and entry level work in the industry. For example, if you have worked as a camp counsellor – you likely have some great skills in communication, risk management, and completing required paperwork – e.g. incident reports.

You might also draw on customer service experience, construction, working as an attractions attendant at an amusement park, in hospitality, etc. Take a look through insurance roles and start to draw parallels from your work, school, and volunteer experiences. The ‘Your Experience’ section on our website can help out a lot!

Jason, a Commerce student at Ryerson University asks:
“How can I find my career fit in Insurance?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Jason – good question! The Career Connections website is all about helping you to better understand how your education, interests, and experience can add up to a really great career in the insurance industry! There is even a quiz that you can take that will help you to narrow down which area of the business might be right for you. You can take it at: here.

Also on the site, you can find full career profiles which outline a number of roles in the industry, watch career videos with perspectives from industry professionals working in the industry about why they love what they do, get resume and networking tips, and even begin to explore the opportunities currently available in the industry on our job site. This job site also features links to 150+ insurance employers – so, it is a good starting point for getting connected to what’s out there.

We also have the Insurance Career Guide on TalentEgg – lots of great articles and resources here!

Almira, a Social Science and Geography student at McMaster University asks:
“Are there particular positions or sectors of Insurance that are in high demand?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Thanks for your question Almira! Based on some demographic research conducted by the Insurance Institute, we are anticipating that about 25,000 professionals are eligible to retire in the next 2 – 5 years. This means that there will be a wealth of exciting opportunities available across the industry! Obviously, the more professionals in a particular role, the more demand is likely to be available. So, you will likely see a slightly higher demand for Brokers, Underwriters, and Claims Professionals.

Actuaries in property and casualty insurance are also in high demand. And, as the field shifts with technology and other disruptors, we anticipate emerging needs in areas like data science and analytics, IT, etc. to also follow suit.

Emily, a Business student at Sault College asks:
“What are the best certifications to earn in order to get your foot in the door and start a career in Insurance?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Thanks for your question, Emily! A diploma or degree are your starting point – we know that insurance employers place a high value on post-secondary education and demonstrating a commitment to on-going learning. There are no specific credentials that you require to join the industry. That said, if you are looking to become an agent or a broker, you might look to obtain your license before applying to positions to give yourself a bit of an edge. Actuaries will want to take one or two examinations to join an actuarial team… and independent adjusters also require a license (N.B. Loss adjusters and claims professionals who work for an insurance company do not).

The important thing to do is to understand where you think you might look to head in the industry and gain as much insight/exposure into that area of the business as you can. You might consider attending insurance networking events – there are actually a lot through professional associations, the Insurance Institute, etc., a seminar, or even pursuing your General Insurance Essentials certificate through the Insurance Institute to give you increased exposure to the sector. I’d encourage you to check out our website to learn more about licensing, offerings of the Institute, and our tips for networking!

Penolopie, a Mathematics and Economics student in the University of Alberta asks:
“Prior to getting work experience in the industry, how does one choose between P&C and Life & Health to start a career in?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Penolopie – thanks for that insightful question! The area of the industry you decide to specialize in is really dependent on what you are looking for in your career and the types of risks you would like to work with. I’d suggest that you spend some to learn more about p & c insurance, the types of risks professionals manage, and the rewards of a career in the sector. I would encourage you to also spend some time on the sites of life and health companies to learn more about their organizations and the opportunities available on their side of the business.

I also think it is important to note that nothing you decide is irreversible. There is a strong connection between the two sides of the business – and, in fact, some p & c organizations also have life and health arms of their organizations. So, it is also possible to move between the two.

Edson, a Psychology student at San Marcos University asks:
“As an international student, I am permitted to work full-time during breaks. Are international students considered for full-time positions in Insurance? If so, is there flexibility to switch to part-time when classes start again?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Edson – thanks for your question! Insurance is a global industry and the consumer base in Canada is as diverse as the people who live here… so, international students would have the opportunity to apply for and work in positions in the insurance industry.

You will want to clarify and clearly indicate that you are eligible to work in Canada and do not require sponsorship for a work permit. And, yes, there are some roles where it is possible to take on part time hours when you return to school. This is particularly relevant to roles as a broker/agent or in claims. That said, it possible that roles supporting the underwriting or actuarial department may have part time options available as well. I can’t say it is the norm, but it does happen where students are able to continue part time while in school.

Florence, a Biology student at Carleton University asks:
“What are some examples of potential employers in the Insurance industry?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Employers in insurance are as diverse as the roles and people who work in it – you could work for a brokerage or insurance agency, insurance company, claims or adjusting firm, a risk management consultancy, in all levels of government, healthcare, financial institutions, and even in private companies (e.g. Tim Horton’s).

Insurance companies also come in all shapes and sizes – some are very small (5 or less employees) and localized… while others are large and have offices around the country (or even the world)! Essentially, you can find an employer that suits who you are and the kind of company that you want to work for. Insurance also offers the freedom to change course along the way!

There are some great companies advertising opportunities on TalentEgg right now! Be sure to check them out – there are links from our profile page! I’d also invite you to check out the job site on the Career Connections web site. There are links to over 150 insurance employers – so, a good place to get connected!

Shiya, a Finance student at Western University asks:
“What is the best way to start a career in the Insurance industry?”

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Shiya, that is a good question. I would say there are a couple of things: 1. Connect and network with industry wherever possible – this could be at events on campus, on-line, or even at industry functions. We have some great networking tips on our website and in our articles on TalentEgg. 2. Learn as much about the industry as you can – read trade publications like CI Top Broker or Canadian Underwriter, attend topical seminars, and keep abreast of issues impacting insurance – e.g. climatic change, the sharing economy, autonomous vehicles, etc. 3. Determine which area of the industry is of most interest to you – you can take our quiz or explore on our website and, spend time learning about the industry employers who would need someone with your skills and experience. Hope this is helpful in showcasing how you can take some steps now that will pay off in the long run in helping you connect to the industry!

TalentEgg
We’re almost at the end of today’s Office Hours with Career Connections! Before we wrap things up – do you have a final piece of advice for Students and New Grads hoping to join the Insurance industry?

Trevor, Manager of Career Connections
Thanks everyone for your egg-ceptional questions! I hope that you found this Office Hours to be helpful, informative, and insightful. Keep the conversation going with us on Twitter, Like the Career Connections page on Facebook, and check out our Youtube videos. Also be sure to visit our website to learn more! A big thanks to our friends at TalentEgg for hosting us today! We really appreciate having the chance to engage in such an egg-cellent session!

TalentEgg
Wonderful! And that’s it for today! Thank you so much to our guest expert, Trevor from Career Connections for joining us and thank you to our audience for being a part of our Office Hours!

Make sure to bookmark our Office Hours page to sign up for future live online Q & A sessions with Career Connections and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest updates on how to hatch an egg-citing career in Insurance!

Want to learn more on how to build a career in Insurance? Visit the Career Connections website to begin!

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About the author

Akemi Liyanage Akemi Liyanage is a Content and Community Coordinator at TalentEgg. Helping millennials get on their feet and rise through the world as successful professionals is the reason she gets out of bed every morning. Tweet her your career questions, thoughts and ideas at @akemiliyanage.