What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Employment in the Insurance Field?
Careers in the insurance industry range from sales and sales management to actuary, underwriter and adjuster positions. Each comes with its own advantages of employment as well as disadvantages. With the exception of insurance sales, growth in this sector will decline through 2030, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technology has automated many functions and reduced the number of needed workers. Nonetheless, thousands of jobs are expected to come available each year as insurance professionals either retire or leave to pursue other opportunties.
Advantages of working in the insurance industry include uncapped earning potential if you're working on commission. Large insurers commonly offer training, job coaching and career mobility. College degrees and advanced education can help you get ahead in many of the fields, but for the most part, advancement is based on performance.
If you are a hard worker who can make sales, review claims efficiently or build an effective client base, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to increase your earnings and land promotions. On the other hand, competition is fierce in many fields, and unless you are passionate about insurance, your chances of advancement are reduced.
One advantage of employment in insurance is that you don’t need a college degree to enter the field. You do, however, need to obtain a license to sell most types of insurance. Most states require a separate license for each type of insurance you carry. You can find an entry-level job in a support capacity without formal training, but you need to acquire certifications and credentials to advance.
Once certified, you must maintain your credentials through continuing educational requirements. There are opportunities to expand your business as an independent insurance representative with additional financial products, but you need to earn more credentials to provide those services.
Many insurance positions, such as being an underwriter for a major insurance company, are regular nine-to-five jobs that usually don’t require weekend work. You’ll be inside an office at a desk for most of your day, allowing you to schedule your evenings and weekends freely. Independent agents, on the other hand, travel extensively to call on customers and must accommodate client scheduling needs.
As an insurance sales representative, your schedule will include work evening and weekend hours when clients are available. Some agents consistently work more than 40 hours a week. Kaplan suggests that many insurance sales agents like the irregular hours of the job because it affords them the flexibility to schedule personal appointments and run errands during the day.
For the most part, you can count on insurance for stability in your career. Opportunities will be best for insurance sales agents with an expected job growth rate of 7 percent through 2030, about as fast as the average rate for all occupations, reports the BLS. By contrast, the BLS projects that job openings for insurance underwriters will decline 2 percent during this same time period. BLS further notes that jobs related to claims adjustment will drop 3 percent.
Businesses and individuals need insurance no matter what state the economy is in, which is a benefit of working in the insurance industry. At the same time, the usual areas that you can count on to increase business often are reduced in a tough economic environment. Consumers buy fewer cars and homes. Businesses hire fewer employees who need insurance. Theft claims may increase. Large insurance companies are relatively stable, but they can rely on downsizing and replacing staff via technological advances to remain viable.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."