Career Path Series: Insurance

Insurance agent working on a claim

The U.S. insurance industry is a major employer providing over 2.9 million jobs in 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of these roles are unique to the field like actuaries, claims professionals, and underwriters. Here is a breakdown of potential career paths and entry-level positions for these industry-specific occupations.  


Defined by the Society of Actuaries, actuaries are “business professionals who analyze the financial consequences of risk, using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to study uncertain future events.” They analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost to the company of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property. Using their expertise in evaluating various types of risk, actuaries help design insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial strategies. 

An undergraduate degree, preferably in actuarial sciences, business, mathematics, or statistics, is needed to become an actuary. Certification is also required. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) endorses actuaries who work in the property-casualty insurance field, encompassing automobile, homeowners, medical malpractice, and workers compensation insurance. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) validates actuaries who work in life and health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance.

Recent graduates start as trainees under the tutelage of experienced actuaries. Entry-level responsibilities include conducting research, compiling data, and writing reports. Advancement depends largely on job performance and the number of actuarial exams passed. Those who achieve fellowship status may serve in supervisory roles and provide advice to senior management. Those with broad knowledge of risk management often serve in an executive position such as chief risk officer. 

Insurance Claims

Insurance claims professionals have many job titles including claims representatives and claims adjusters. Claims representatives, who typically work in an office, facilitate the processing of policies and claims. Adjusters work in the field to examine losses. 

Some claims positions only require a high school diploma. More advanced degrees may be preferred depending on the types of claims handled. For example, a business or accounting baccalaureate would be beneficial for careers specializing in handling financial claims. 

Entry-level claims professionals start by focusing on smaller cases under the supervision of more experienced colleagues. Eventually, they gain more responsibility and take on larger claims. Field workers like appraisers and examiners, receive additional on-the-job training to better understand technical details of cases they handle like damage to cars and houses. 

Currently, the highest demand for claims workers comes from the health insurance industry. Rising medical costs create a greater need for claims examiners to address the growing number of medical claims. The increasing number of natural disasters stimulates demand for adjusters in property and casualty insurance. 


Underwriters evaluate insurance applications and create or write the policies. They decide what should be covered and how much to charge for it. Skilled underwriters have financial and risk expertise. They also possess a high level of attention to detail while using algorithms and risk management techniques to create effective comprehensive coverage that satisfies the company and the client. Most insurance underwriters specialize in one of three fields: life, health, or property and casualty. 

Most employers look for candidates with undergraduate degrees in finance, business, economics, or mathematics. Certifications can also help advance your career and salary. Some of the most common certifications are the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF).

Underwriters start out writing basic policies. As expertise is gained, they start taking on more types of policies as well as ones that are more complicated. Increasing demands for underwriters are anticipated in specific fields, such as health insurance, marine insurance, and workers’ compensation.

A career in the insurance industry offers not only a good starting salary, but a multitude of advancement opportunities to diversify your career and increase earning potential. Whether someone wishes to be an actuary or an underwriter, there is something for everyone.

Insurance agent working on a claim

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