What is the top paying insurance industry job?

Q:

I'm considering working in insurance, but I'm not sure what kind of job to aim for. What insurance job pays the most?

A:

I think getting into the insurance industry is a great choice; it's an understated but very stable industry. Insurance is a financial product but it is also considered a consumer staple that is sure to be in high demand for years to come.

If you talk to the average person about the insurance industry and what jobs are available, they might think of the three main positions: insurance broker, underwriter, and claims adjuster.

An insurance broker is a licensed individual responsible for selling insurance and can make either a salary, commission, or both. Salaries here are going to be slightly higher than the average white-collar salary in your area, but the real money is made in commissions or by running your own brokerage and hiring people to sell for you (I know several independent insurance brokers drawing mid-six-figure commissions). If you're confident in your sales skills and have the drive, being a broker has relatively low barriers to entry and is a good place to start (see What Is an Insurance Broker? to learn more about this profession).

Underwriters work more behind the scenes. They're the ones who handle the paperwork and decide which customers to insure and for how much. As an employee, there is little room to increase your pay beyond getting a periodic raise, but the starting salaries are higher than those of insurance brokers.

As a claims adjuster, you would be responsible for determining the value of losses and deciding whether the company should pay out or not. Adjusters either work at an insurance company or open up their own independent adjusting firm. Salaries are relatively high due to the nature of the work, but if you can open your own firm, the sky is the limit.

Those are the main ones, but insurance is so much more than that. Insurance is a financial product with a lot of legal work to be done on the back end. If you're looking to get into the insurance industry and don't mind doing some extra schooling, there is good money to be made on the financial and legal side.

The insurance industry also makes extensive use of actuaries who assess and manage their risks by setting rate standards, mortality tables, and managing overall risk. Advanced degrees in statistics and financial theory are required, but the pay-off is often a six-figure income.

When insurance companies collect premiums, they turn around and invest that money to earn a profit. These investments are handled by portfolio managers and analysts who regularly make six figures on top of bonuses they can earn by meeting performance benchmarks. However, advanced degrees or professional certifications such as CFA is required.

There's a lot of money to be made from selling insurance products on commission. But as you can tell from what I've said, positions throughout the industry pay a very comfortable salary. If you're interested in selling and managing customer experiences, then working as an agent or broker might be your calling. If you're more comfortable working with spreadsheets and crunching numbers, you might be happier pursuing a career as an actuary or an underwriter. If you're fascinated by the intricacies of the law, then the legal end of the industry might be right for you. But whichever path you choose, if you land that insurance job you're aiming for, it's sure to be lucrative.

(Want to learn more about these jobs and how to get them? Check out Insurance Industry Careers: What They Are and How to Get Them.)

Have a question? Ask us here.

View all questions from Jacques Wong.

Share this:
Written by Jacques Wong
Profile Picture of Jacques Wong
Jacques grew up around the insurance industry and began actively participating in 2013. Since then, he has gotten a Level 2 license, won an Insurance Council of BC award in 2015 for academic excellence in the insurance licensing courses and educates insurance professionals through PNC Learning.   Full Bio