If you've ever had an automobile accident or sustained structural damage to your home or business, you probably worked with a public adjuster. These professionals, also known as claims adjusters, interview claimants and witnesses, examine automobiles and properties, and speak with accountants and lawyers to get claimants the highest reimbursements for their losses and injuries. Choosing this field can give you satisfaction in knowing you're helping people put their lives back together. In return, you can earn an above-average salary.
Salary and Benefits
Public adjusters earned average annual salaries of $61,110 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. If you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, you would make over $89,590 per year. Your earnings are highly contingent on experience, geographic area and the size and salary budget of your employer. Since most public adjusters work full time -- though hours can be highly irregular -- they can usually expect to receive benefits such as paid time off, medical insurance and retirement savings plans.
Salary by Industry
Salaries for public adjusters can vary somewhat by industry. They earned the highest annual salaries of $71,150 in the natural gas distribution industry, according to the BLS. You would also earn relatively high salaries working for federal and local government agencies -- $67,980 and $65,240 per year, respectively. Expect a slightly lower salary of $60,470 annually if you are employed by an insurance carrier. And, your annual income with a state government employer would be $54,980.
Salary by State or District
Public adjusters earned the highest average salaries of $78,000 in Louisiana, according to 2011 BLS data. If you were employed as one in the District of Columbia or New Jersey, you would make $71,080 or $67,580 per year, respectively. Expect a salary closer to the national average for this field in Pennsylvania -- $61,460 per year. And your yearly income would be somewhat less in either Florida or Oklahoma at $55,580 or $53,710 per year, respectively.
Jobs for claims or public adjusters are expected to increase by only 3 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, which is slower than the 14 percent average growth rate for all occupations. Property damage claims go up, of course, in areas where natural disasters occur. However, the BLS says growth in public adjusters' employment still is expected to lag overall, partly because the number of traffic accidents -- and claims -- is on a downward trend.