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Insurance risk management: a well-paying, ‘dynamic, fulfilling career’

Combatting stereotypes, this BCIT School of Business + Media program leads to prestigious jobs
Shaun Sinclair, program head of general insurance and risk management. Photo via: BCIT School of Business + Media.

Sheetal Lakhan had a set idea for her career path, having completed her legal administrative certificate and was getting ready to apply for a paralegal program. Everything was set in stone, or so she thought.

However, one car accident later, after speaking with an adjuster, Lakhan realized how fascinating the insurance field is and the fulfillment that comes from asking the right questions, finding the correct answers, and the satisfaction of problem-solving.

And just like that, she pivoted and enrolled in the BCIT School of Business + Media’s General Insurance and Risk Management program.

Now, Lakhan is Manager, Construction and Contracting for a major Canadian insurance company. Her instinct about insurance proved right, there’s never a dull moment, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I analyze risk in insurance proposals, determine policy terms, negotiate premiums, monitor trends to identify areas of concerns regarding losses and offer resources to help mitigate risk,” she explains. “I offer the solution the broker provides to the insured to make sure the best coverage is in place.

“I’m also involved in supporting operational transformation that continually modernizes our industry, driving adoption of new systems, all while ensuring we are in compliance with documentation and data integrity.”

Delving into the details to find the optimal solution is a far cry from the stereotypical impression that handling insurance is dull, with agents yawning as they wait to top up auto coverage.

Even with family and friends, Lakhan is excited to point out the characteristics that make her position a dynamic, fulfilling career with plenty of opportunities to travel.

“They don’t realize insurance is a financial and professional service,” she reveals. “You’re helping people and businesses restore property after losses. You’re constantly assessing risk to prevent such losses.”

Shaun Sinclair, program head of general insurance and risk management at BCIT School of Business + Media, urges doubters to “go to the nearest window and do a 360.”

“Everything you see is insurable,” he explains. “Whatever your interest is, you can connect your work to it. I have grads with the Canadian Football League, in movies and TV, mining, construction, Electronic Arts, and video games. You name it. In terms of opportunities, I don’t think there’s a better career.”

This diverse career path is especially promising if you pursue the school’s intensive two-year program—unique to Canada, with the possible exception of a program in New Brunswick modelled on BCIT’s.

In the first year alone, students take two Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) national exams. They also later obtain a Canadian Risk Management (CRM) certificate and qualify for a level 2 broker’s license and independent adjuster’s license.

“There’s way more money in insurance than most people realize,” says Sinclair. “After a few years, you could be making six figures. One of my grads, selling insurance on Vancouver Island, makes over $100,000. Awesome for someone who’s 22!”

Industry and opportunities are growing

The Insurance Institute of Canada estimates the country has 150,000 jobs in the insurance field. Of those professionals, 35,000 will retire in the next five years. Every month, Sinclair gets employers asking, almost beseeching him for qualified grads.

“There’s a continual supply need, and the industry is growing,” he states. “Where a business used to have a health-and-safety guy on site, now they want a trained professional to make the entire organization run better and more efficiently.”

Whether you’re shy or outgoing, there’s a niche for every personality, he says. For example, brokers are more sociable, meeting clients to learn their risks and needs. Underwriters, on the other hand, analyze risk and determine coverage. Depending on their role, they can either work quietly or be sociable. Adjusters go out and investigate, “making people feel whole again after a loss,” he describes.

Whatever their personality type, Sinclair emphasizes, students entering the program must be ready for commitment.

“Like all BCIT courses, ours are rigorous and tough,” he reveals. “You’ll work 50-60 hours a week, 35 weeks a year, in 15- and 20-week terms. University students take three or four courses a term. We do seven to nine. One of my students, who had a science degree, said he had never worked so hard.”

Lakhan appreciated the program’s intensity, such as team problem-solving of real-life industry challenges and the opportunities it creates, including visits by insurance companies.

“It’s like speed-dating. You walk around, table to table, and meet companies and brokerages,” she describes. “You present your résumé and business card. Positive things can come out of that. After your second year, they may remember you and offer you a job.”

Once you graduate, Sinclair notes, you can work just about anywhere in the world.

“Our grads have the upper hand. They join a company, and because they have their CIP right away, colleagues ask them for advice. It’s like an employer told me: ‘Hiring one of your students is like hiring a pro with at least five years’ experience.’”

For more information about the School of Business + Media’s General Insurance and Risk Management program, visit


The BCIT School of Business is a place for “doers” with a career destination in mind. Whether you want to turn a hobby into a business, enhance job opportunities, earn a higher income, or simply get a job you love, the transformation you’ll go through at BCIT will accelerate your success.