Insurance industry catching the eye of job-seeking african-americans - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Insurance industry catching the eye of job-seeking african-americans

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(ARA) - Americans are more interested than ever in identifying new job opportunities in growing industries. While emerging opportunities in technology and health care industries have won a lot of attention, another long-established industry is poised for growth - insurance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts demand for insurance will continue to rise, and the industry will experience "significant growth" over the long term. As baby boomers age, their need for different types of insurance products will likely increase. This is also likely to be the case for their adult children and their families.

The growth in the industry should be of particular interest to African-Americans seeking a high-growth profession, some industry watchers say. That's because demand for insurance products and services that meet the needs of the African-American population is expected to rise, and with it the need for insurance professionals who know how to serve the market.

"There is a greater need in the insurance industry for professionals educated and experienced in African-American culture," says Jodi Webster, a district manager for Farmers Insurance Group in northern California. "The industry is realizing -- and responding to -- the need to provide education to the African-American community on the importance of having the proper insurance in place, especially in the life insurance arena."

In addition to the opportunity to fill a high-demand role that will help educate their community, African-Americans might find a career as an insurance agent interesting for several other reasons, says Webster. A Farmers agent for five years and district manager for eight, Webster feels an insurance career as an agent offers the opportunity to be self-employed, in control of one's own professional destiny and provides an unlimited income potential.

"As an agent, I was an independent contractor, not an employee," she says. "For agents, there's a huge opportunity to serve an evolving, growing African-American marketplace. Plus, you get to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself. The investment required to start an agency is affordable and you gain the benefit of corporate branding and support."

Major insurance providers are also realizing the value of agents who can culturally connect with the African-American community. Farmers, for example, recently launched its African-American Market Expansion, which aims to provide products and services to a growing market segment. As part of that initiative, the company has focused recruitment efforts in the African-American community to expand awareness of career opportunities with the company.

"This initiative will help Farmers better serve the African-American community's insurance and financial needs," says Faye W. McClure, Farmers vice president of strategic marketing. "The campaign aims to increase Farmers' exposure to the second largest minority group in the nation." Farmers African-American Market Expansion will initially focus on eight states; California, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Alabama and Tennessee.

As a people person, Webster says, the opportunity to serve the African-American community has been professionally and personally rewarding. "I like the opportunity to coach and mentor people to develop successful agencies," she says. "It's rewarding to help them develop their ability to realize their dreams and provide themselves and their families with a comfortable lifestyle."

"Need for insurance knowledge and education continues to grow in the African-American community, and so will opportunities for agents adept at serving this community," she adds.

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