If you’re like many of us, you started a career in insurance because you are a highly motivated person who loves the thrill of the sale as much as helping a client. Being in charge of your own career is icing on the cake.
Career growth can take many forms, but one of the best ways to grow organically is through the pursuit of advanced insurance certification programs.
The right insurance certification or designation gives you the knowledge you need to offer a higher level of service to your clients. What’s more, the insurance industry is an ever-changing landscape, and you need an ongoing commitment to staying on top of changes if you want to continue to do the best work for your clients.
There are many opportunities to seek designations and specializations. So where do you start? Here’s a quick primer on the top insurance certification programs.
The 7 Best Insurance Certification Programs
If you’re interested in pursuing additional insurance certifications, there are three organizations you can go to. The National Alliance, The Institute of WorkComp Professionals, and The Institutes all offer ongoing training opportunities for insurance professionals.
Each of these organizations offers its own unique certification process to help you continue to grow in your profession.
Let’s look at an overview of the top seven certification programs you can pursue:
The Associate in General Insurance (AINS)® is administered by The Institutes. This designation focuses on general property and liability insurance for personal or commercial lines. You also have the option of choosing one elective to focus on in your studies.
If you’re looking for a first step to continuing your education as an insurance professional, the AINS is a great place to start. You can complete the coursework in roughly nine to 15 months, and it will give you a strong foundation in general insurance principles.
The National Alliance offers the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)® designation. It focuses on the practical application of insurance principles and is considered one of the most credible insurance designations available.
According to The National Alliance, professionals that earn their CIC designation earn 30% more than their peers. To obtain your CIC, you’ll have to pass the following five exams:
- Agency Management
- Personal Lines
- Commercial Casualty
- Commercial Property
- Life and Health
You’ll also need to complete annual updates to keep your designation current. But the CIC does set you up to pursue further designations, like the CRM.
You will need to grant several days of intense focus at a time to pass each exam, but you will walk away with practical skills that will empower you to give some of the best service available in the country to each of your clients.
A chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU)® is an expert on risk management, underwriting, and property-casualty insurance. Like the AINS, it is administered by The Institutes, and receiving this designation is kind of like earning your master’s degree in insurance.
A CPCU shows your peers and clients that you have specialized knowledge of the insurance industry. It’s a great choice if you want to grow your career by working with a carrier, third-party, or in the fast-paced world of insurtech.
The CPCU is a prestigious designation, and earning it will not come easily. You’ll have to pass eight national exams on various insurance topics and agree to abide by a Code of Professional Ethics. It takes most people two to three years to earn their CPCU.
But if you’re able to put forward the time and commitment, earning your CPCU is one of the best ways to show that you have a proven track record of experience.
A Certified Risk Manager (CRM)® is an expert in preventing, minimizing, and eliminating risk. This designation is offered by The National Alliance and includes over 80 hours in risk management coursework.
The course covers the following five areas of risk management:
- Analysis of Risk
- Control of Risk
- Financing of Risk
- Practice of Risk Management
- Principles of Risk Management
You’ll need at least two years of professional experience before you can begin the certification process, and you may find yourself better prepared for this specialization after completing your CIC.
To earn your CRM, you’ll need to finish the coursework and pass the corresponding exams within five years.
As a Certified WorkComp Specialist (CWCA)®, you’ll specialize in workman’s compensation insurance. The Institute of WorkComp Professionals offers this certification.
Before you can qualify, there must be at least one CWCA at your agency in good standing. The coursework will cover the following four categories:
- Understanding the Workers’ Comp Premium Audit
- Navigating the Experience Mod
- The Anatomy of a Claim
- Putting the Process into Action
The Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI)® program is similar to obtaining your CIC, but it’s a bit more comprehensive, and you don’t have to complete any annual updates. The certification is offered by The Institutes and takes between nine and 15 months to complete.
If you’re hoping to eventually become a CPCU, receiving your AAI designation is a great place to start. You’ll have to complete the coursework and pass the corresponding tests in three core areas:
- The Foundations of Insurance Production
- Multi-Lines Insurance Production
- Agency Operations and Sales Management
If you’re looking to improve your customer service skills, you’ll want to become a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR)®. The National Alliance offered this designation and will teach you how to offer outstanding account management and communicate clearly with your clients.
As a CISR, you’ll be trained to manage commercial, personal, and life insurance accounts. To complete the certification, you’ll need to complete any five of the nine available courses and pass the corresponding exams within three years.
Where Will Your Career Take You?
Obtaining the right certification can help you learn new skills and leverage new business opportunities. And best of all, it shows your clients that you’re committed to growing professionally and offering them the highest level of service possible.