Teresa Costouros may have “fallen into insurance” more than 20 years ago, but the path she’s taken since is no coincidence.
She started, like many still do, without any insurance-related training in an entry level clerical role. And while the insurance industry continues to welcome people from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, it’s always better to have a plan.
Today, Teresa is the Curriculum Co-ordinator and an Instructor for MacEwan University’s 13-month accelerated Insurance and Risk Management diploma program in Edmonton. She sees the benefits of post-secondary insurance education first hand from her students in the knowledge they gain, the job offers they receive and the career paths they take.
If a career in insurance interests you, here are five reasons why a diploma program like MacEwan’s might interest you too.
Get a taste of different types of insurance
Eight of the 20 courses MacEwan students must complete are industry-specific, ranging from automobile insurance to loss adjusting to underwriting to sales. These classes allow students get acquainted with the industry and help them narrow down the area they hope to pursue after graduation. The other 12 are general business courses. “Students graduate with general business education and a specialization in insurance,” Teresa says.
Earn credits toward your CIP designation
MacEwan’s Insurance and Risk Management diploma program is one of eight in Canada where students can earn credits (upwards of nine credits at some schools) toward their Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation while completing their studies. “Most employers want students tp complete the CIP,” Teresa says. “Some might want them to then take the Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP), a business degree or leadership certificate.”
The CIP is not a requirement to enter the industry, unlike a Broker’s/Agent’s or Adjuster’s license in many provinces and territories. But it demonstrates your skills and knowledge to potential employers and shows them that you’re serious about insurance.
You’re half way to a business degree
Many employers require the employees they promote to mid-level or management positions to earn a university degree. Many of these two-year diploma insurance programs shave two years off a four-year business degree program. MacEwan graduates, for example, can transfer their diploma credits to the Management major of MacEwan’s Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Graduates get hired
During the program, students meet insurance professionals through guest lectures, networking sessions and industry events. Teresa, who teaches seven of the eight insurance courses, also recommends students who’ve excelled in their studies to employers for certain positions. “I’ve got industry phoning me three to four times a week looking for possible candidates,” she says. Most MacEwan grads (98%) get hired after graduation for one of three positions (the other 2% go into risk management):
- Underwriter: Evaluates the risks involved in insurance applications and determines which clients to accept
- Broker/Agent: Offers clients insurance policies based on their specific needs
- Adjuster: Investigates insurance claims, makes recommendations about benefit payments and negotiates settlements
Graduates get promoted
At a MacEwan information session a few years ago, Teresa says a man who was already working at an insurance company inquired about the program. She asked him why he wanted to enroll, and he said, “The company I work for hires many MacEwan grads and I’m tired of seeing them move up the ladder and I’m still doing the same job I was hired for two years ago. I want the same advantage that they have.”
Investing in insurance-related training and education, whether through a diploma program or designation, is an investment in your career.
Photo credit: Hans Mestrum