Women shaking hands in business setting

Who knew? Untraditional starts to fulfilling careers in insurance

For some, the career path is straightforward: If you want to become a doctor, you go to med school, a lawyer, law school. Teachers have education degrees. Writers have English degrees. Trade professions require certifications and registered hours. If you want to become a pilot, a firefighter or a veterinarian, the route is clear.

These are jobs kids talk about, draw about and dream about. But not many kids grow up wanting to become an underwriter, actuary or adjuster. Unless you’re born into it, most kids never consider a career in insurance. And even if the field interests you, the path to achieving success isn’t nearly as straightforward.

From the insurance-specific roles to the universal business functions, like human resources, marketing and finance, careers in the insurance industry are plentiful, fulfilling and make great homes for those who may have chosen less traditional courses of study or want a career change. Protecting individuals and their assets against some of life’s worst moments is rewarding work.

From animal science degree to claims executive
Kristina Tomasetti, associate vice president of claims optimization for SageSure, has a Bachelor of Science in animal science.

“I wanted to be a geneticist and thought animal science was a good path there,” she said. “Organic chemistry and biochemistry derailed me.”

Unsure about what she wanted to do after completing her degree, she found herself working several jobs – for Ticketmaster, as a barista and a front desk clerk for a city rec center. A friend from her Ticketmaster role told her about a company with openings. She admits to knowing little about the big-name insurer USAA but applied for a policy services position anyway.

An experienced recruiter assessed her skills and recommended her for an entry-level claim representative position instead. She started out handling simple losses and progressed from there.

“In that first year, I found I really liked it,” she said. “We were there to help people after they had something bad happen. It felt good to be helping people.”

From music career to one that’s off the scale
Dan Harrison is new to insurance. Now a customer service representative for SageSure, his first profession was in music.

“I have a B.M. in music performance and music composition from the University of South Florida, and an M.M. and D.M.A. from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music,” he said. “This is my first year working in insurance, a much more stable career than the unfortunately unpredictable and kind of brutal world of adjunct teaching, and I’m hoping to find a permanent place here and increase my career options in insurance.”

From housewife divorcee to full-time work
In 1993, Debora McNicholas went from homemaker to divorced and found herself applying for any and all jobs she thought she might like. She landed one interview for an account manager for a life insurance agent.

McNicholas recalled, “The manager interviewed me and said, ‘Well, you know this is an account manager position you are not qualified for, but I like you. We will make a position for you.’ For a year and a half, I called people and businesses out of the phone book. I have no fear of the word ‘no.’”

Her career evolved from there. Since then, she’s been licensed in P&C, L&H in all 50 states when she worked for a commercial brokerage house as an account manager, and various agents before becoming a customer service representative at SageSure.

From writing English to writing code
While studying English Literature, Jonathan Santiago’s dream job was a public-school teacher and eventually university professor, but he found himself working in insurance to pay for college and it changed the trajectory of his career.

“The moral of the story? Sometimes you study for a dream job, but other times it just falls into your lap as you’re stumbling around the job market,” Santiago said. “The thing I love most about working in the insurance industry is the everyday opportunity to help people rebuild their lives.”

From the outside looking in, the insurance industry sometimes gets a bad reputation, but when you’re on the inside looking out, it’s a noble profession.

“Without insurance, many people would need to weather astronomical rebuilding costs by themselves,” said Santiago, who has served as a customer service rep, customer satisfaction specialist and now product engineer. “When you work in insurance, you’re part of that mission to help rebuild people’s lives. And that makes it really easy to come to work every day.”

Not sure what to do with your degree in Arabic?
“My best advice to folks is to not think about a job or career, but what are you good at — math, problem-solving, explaining things in simple terms to help people understand it, empathy, etc.” Tomasetti said. “Knowing that is the start because there are so many paths in insurance that tap into so many different skills. Insurance has such a wide range of roles.”

Santiago agrees and says, “Learn to market yourself. You’ve learned skills that no other degree can claim: effective communication, creativity, empathy. Put those on your resume and make a big deal about them in your interviews.”

Most importantly, if you find yourself looking for a fulfilling career with mobility and stability, you might need to take the road less traveled.

“Explore the insurance world,” Santiago said. “From marketing, to software, to customer service … There’s plenty of room for you.”

Whether you’re looking for a career move or trying to talk your college-bound kid out of studying history, check out our open positions. You just might find a home in insurance.