Insurance 101: Introduction To Entry Level Careers In The Insurance Industry


If you haven’t seriously considered the insurance industry as an ideal place to start your career, maybe these statistics will encourage you to start:

Not even the recent tough economic times could slow the growth of the insurance industry: while many industries were laying off workers at the height of the last economic downturn, about 12,000 positions were added to the insurance workforce in Canada!

In addition, according to recent demographic research conducted by The Insurance Institute of Canada, about half of the approximately 110,000 Property and Casualty insurance professionals are between 41 and 60 years old, and 25% of them are expected to retire in the next two to six years.

There aren’t enough young insurance professionals to fill those gaps at the entry level or to move up into management roles, so the opportunities to start and grow your career within the insurance industry are enormous no matter what your educational background.

Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager at the Insurance Institute, answered a few of our Insurance 101 questions to help students and recent grads like you better understand the job opportunities in this booming industry.

“Insurance as a career is not just about sales. Other roles can work directly with customers, in business-to-business relationships, or in the ‘back office’ in claims, underwriting, actuarial science, risk management, appraising and investigations.”
Trevor Buttrum, Career Connections Program Manager, The Insurance Institute of Canada

What are the different areas of the insurance industry?

Trevor: There are three main types of insurance:

Life, Health and Financial: These are your extended health plans, critical illness insurance, creditor’s insurance and life insurance – essentially, making sure money is there to support you in case you get sick or to make sure families/friends do not need to shoulder the costs associated with your final expenses.

Social Insurance: These are government administered programs. In Canada, we are lucky enough to have universal health care. We also have employment insurance and workplace safety insurance which make sure we have a means of financial support in the case of job loss or injury at work.

Property and Casualty: This is essentially for anything without a pulse. Whether it’s for something we own, our businesses or even our liability in an accident. Property and casualty insurance can be for almost anything!


What kind of entry level jobs are there in the insurance industry?

Trevor: Insurance is unique in that there are nine “gateway” roles in the industry which don’t even include positions in IT, Accounting/Finance or HR that also exist in our sector! These gateways include:

  1. Broker/Agent
  2. Underwriter
  3. Loss Adjuster
  4. Risk Manager
  5. Claims Investigator
  6. Loss Control Specialist
  7. Actuary
  8. Marketing Representative
  9. Appraiser

Common entry level job titles in the industry include: Customer Service Representative, Junior Broker, Underwriting Assistant, Junior Underwriter, Risk Analyst, Claims Assistant, Claims Representative, Actuarial Intern, Junior Actuary, Marketing Assistant and Appraisal Representative.

Insurance as a career is not just about sales. In fact, only two of the nine gateway roles have a sales component to them. Other roles can work directly with customers, in business-to-business relationships, or in the ‘back office’ in claims, underwriting, actuarial science, risk management, appraising and investigations.


Do you need to have a business or finance degree to work in the insurance industry?

Trevor: No, you do not require a business or finance degree to work in the industry. In fact, no matter what your background, chances are you can find ‘a fit’ in the insurance sector.

Gifted at Math? Consider a role as an Actuary. Have a Kinesiology, Nursing or Health Sciences degree? Think about work as a loss adjuster specializing in Accident Benefits. English your thing? Take a look at underwriting.


What are the possibilities for long-term career growth?

Trevor: Insurance offers above-average potential for advancement – if you demonstrate you are competent, committed to continuous learning (e.g., earning industry designations/licenses, attending seminars, etc.) and work hard, you are very likely to be rewarded for it!

There are supervisory, team lead, managerial, director and executive positions available within the industry. Compensation within the industry is lucrative and often includes benefits such as no-cost insurance education, extended health and life insurance, and a multitude of opportunities for professional development.


What do people who work in insurance typically like most about their jobs?

Trevor: When asked what they like most about the industry, many insurance professionals talk about the variety and stability the industry offers.

There is a multitude of opportunities available within the sector that build on your interests, experience and career goals. The industry also has an openness to working in multiple business areas or changing directions over the course of your career. This allows for a career path that evolves and is as individual as you are.


How can students learn more about careers in insurance?

Trevor: A good starting point is the Career Connections website. Here students and recent graduates can:

  • Read full occupational profiles for each of the nine gateway roles
  • Watch video clips about the industry and hear from professionals about their experiences working in insurance
  • Explore insurance education, licenses and professional designations
  • Connect to 150+ industry employers using the links provided and the job site

Also, students can take advantage of seminars and industry networking events offered by industry organizations like the Insurance Institute of Canada, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, Insurance Women Associations, etc. These provide great opportunities to network and expand industry knowledge.

Career ConnectionsInsurance is already part of everything you do.
Why not find your career in it? To learn more, visit


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.