A recent study found that the majority of Canadians are looking to make a career move in 2023. With a growing labour force, the best thing you can do to stand out is to get more qualifications.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has a wide range of certifications you can achieve, but one of its most successful is its General Insurance and Risk Management program.
With a graduate employment rate of 98%* — yes, 98% — this two-year diploma program from BCIT’s School of Business + Media gives graduates the skills to start work immediately in a number of insurance or risk management roles and helps them thrive in a variety of business environments.
After passing their required courses, first-year students are qualified for their level 1 license, which lets them work over the summer break in the industry. Upon graduation, students have the education requirements to qualify for a level 2 broker license and a level 1 loss adjuster license, and they can qualify for a level 2 adjusting license with one additional course.
To help us learn more about this program, we spoke with graduate HUB International Insurance Brokers’ Manager of Commercial and Complex Risk Support Services Jason Hall. Hall talked with us about his time at BCIT, why he made the switch, and what you should consider if you want to apply for the General Insurance and Risk Management program.
Career prior to insurance
While he started his career in insurance at a brokerage in London in the mid-90s, Hall says that he quickly left — drawn to doing sales in the IT sector. Over the past few decades, he stayed in tech sales, even through his move from the UK to Canada.
Though he had enjoyed his experience in tech sales, Hall says his priorities changed in 2015.
“Our first child was six months old, and I was travelling with work regularly, which put pressure on my wife as we had no family in Vancouver,” says Hall. “If you’ve never moved away from friends and family, you don’t fully realize the value of that support network.”
Around that time, during a family visit in London, Hall received a call from his head office letting him know he was being “restructured” out of his position, which wasn’t the first time this had happened.
“Granted, they brought me back with a promotion and a pay rise after the first time,” he says. “I was one of many people let go so the company could improve its bottom line in the hopes of finding a buyer. It is an all-too-common story. That was the moment that started my journey back to a career in insurance.”
Taking the risk
After assessing his new priorities, Hall’s wife was the one who suggested he look back at insurance, as she was then in BCIT’s Financial Planning program, and had heard about the General Insurance and Risk Management program.
“I started researching the industry and the opportunities it presented and was amazed at how interesting and diverse it was,” says Hall. “A couple of other things struck me; there was a demographic gap in the industry, which meant there was an opportunity, and I could transfer my skills and experience of the last 20 years and apply it in this field.”
After attending an info session and chatting with the program head, Hall was hooked and enrolled.
During the program
While he was initially a little self-conscious going back to school in his forties, Hall discovered he wasn’t the only one looking for a career change in his cohort.
“Also, one of the things I value about the program is that many of the instructors work in the industry,” says Hall. “This means you can engage in discussion about the material and learn real-world examples.”
One of the biggest surprises Hall had while in the program was during his communications course. While he had 20 years of experience in sales, an industry which centers on communication, the course was a good reminder for Hall to simplify his communication style, rather than use heavy business jargon.
“Like many cities, Vancouver is wonderfully multi-cultural,” says Hall. “To be effective, our communication should be simple and inclusive. We will achieve so much more.”
The BCIT General Insurance and Risk Management program prepares their students to get their Chartered Insurance Professional and Canadian Risk Manager designation, a resume combination that helped Hall stand out when applying for positions.
“This is a program that has been developed with input from industry leaders to produce graduates that are workplace ready,” says Hall. “The program boasts 98% job placement after graduating.”
For those looking to make a career jump, Hall suggests talking with someone you really trust, to give you honest feedback. While being open-minded and knowing what you want is important, he says it’s also important to know what you don’t want in your next career — so do your research.
“If you’re considering a career change, yes, there’s a lot to plan, but there are so many opportunities in Insurance and Risk Management, and the BCIT Business and Media program will provide the knowledge and exposure you need,” says Hall. “Take that, along with your existing experience, and you have so much value that the industry is looking for.
Now that he is a graduate, Hall says that he gained so much from the program by really engaging with the material presented in class, as opposed to memorizing to pass exams.
“This is a very welcoming and rewarding industry, so be curious and connect. You’ll be glad you did.”
To learn more about the General Insurance and Risk Management program, or to sign up for an info session, visit bcit.ca/insurance.
*Source: BC Student Outcomes, prepared by BC Stats (2021)