Insurance Career Schools

Despite the fact that many insurance companies that exist today have been doing business for over one hundred and fifty years, formal collegiate-level programs to train insurance professionals cropped up only in the early 1900s. Since that time, the number of colleges and universities that offer insurance degrees has grown to exceed one hundred.

Insurance educational programs are likely to continue to rise. The insurance industry is in a growth mode and is being transformed by developing legislation, regulation, and technology. In addition, there are a number of economic and social factors that are impacting the field. According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), about half the working insurance and risk management professionals will retire within fifteen years. This will fuel future demand for actuarial science and risk management experts at all levels.

Insurance is a complex field. More and more employers require their employees to have formal educational training in insurance topics. Therefore, to increase your chances of succeeding in an insurance career, it would behoove you to explore educational programs that will provide you with a solid academic foundation.

Choosing a School

Insurance colleges usually offer either two-year programs where students earn an associate’s degree or four-year programs where bachelor’s degrees are awarded. To find a school that is the best match for you and your career goals, the following factors should be considered:

Degree sought - Schools typically have areas of focus or strengths. These are areas where the curriculum is more solid, and the quality of instruction is superior. If you know that you want to pursue a career in insurance, be certain that the insurance specialty is among your paramount search criteria.

Location - While the location of the school or university is always a consideration, it should not be the sole consideration. Many universities offer distance and online learning opportunities for insurance programs.

Cost - Colleges are either public or private. Public colleges are funded by state and local governments, and usually cost less for students who live in their state. Keep in mind that financial aid is available at both public and private colleges.

Tuition assistance - Many employers of insurance professionals place a high value on continued education. They may have tuition assistance programs or reimburse employees for college expenses if they are related to the pursuit of insurance career advancement.

Reputation - The prestige of the institution matters to an insurance professional. A degree from a well-known and highly regarded institution will be more impressive on a résumé than one from an unknown school.

According to the 2011 U.S. News and World Report, the following are the top ten insurance schools with a bachelor’s program as ranked in 2010:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Georgia
  • Georgia State University
  • University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • University of Illinois
  • New York University
  • Temple University
  • University of Texas
  • Florida State University
  • University of South Carolina

Placement rates - The school’s ability to place students into professions upon graduation speaks highly of the quality of the program.

Once you have narrowed down your choices, you may want to visit the campus, meet with insurance curriculum advisors, talk with students who have completed the program, and explore student-to-teacher ratios. These activities will all help you in determining whether a program might be a good fit for you.

Applying to a School

Insurance Career Schools

Much like the résumé and application you deliver to a prospective employer, your college application must leave a favorable impression of you. It is an opportunity to give a college admissions professional a sense of your academic, work, and social accomplishments.

One of the most important things you need to do when applying to a college is to make sure you know and abide by all application deadlines. Know what is required in the application packet and when it is due. A late application, in many instances, is cause for denial.

Most colleges have an application fee that must accompany the application package. The fees typically range from $35 to $50. It is usually nonrefundable. Even if you decide not to go to that school, you cannot get your application fee returned. The school you are applying to may offer fee waivers for low-income applicants.

Most schools will want you to authorize your high school to send them an official transcript, so they can view your previous academic history. In addition, many colleges also want to review SAT scores.

Whether required or not, you may include letters of recommendation with your college application package. The letters should be from former teachers, coaches, or work supervisors who can vouch for your skills and commitment to higher education.

A critical part of the application package is your personal essay or statement. These should not be taken lightly. The essays can be tremendously influential to an admissions counselor.

The final step in the interview process is often a personal interview. Interviews are usually extended to serious candidates. They provide an excellent opportunity for you to assess the college and get your questions answered.

School Accreditation

Accreditation is the process of reviewing a school’s programs and policies to ensure that they meet certain criteria. The criteria are set by an independent outside agency. When a school meets the specified criteria, it is granted accreditation. Accreditation is made at both the institutional level and the program level. What that means is that a school may be accredited to grant a degree in one area, but not another.

Accreditation ensures certain quality standards are met. The process is designed to protect students, schools, and employers. When students receive a degree from an accredited college program, other colleges as well as employers recognize it. So, for example, if you plan first to obtain your associate’s degree and then go for your bachelor’s, you will want to be sure that the associate’s program is accredited. With an accredited school, your degree will be recognized and the probability of having your credits transferred increases.

Unlike in most other nations, in the United States, accreditation organizations are private. They are not affiliated with the government. Accreditation organizations exist to review colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education for standards of quality and improvement efforts. For example, the American College received its accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Most potential employers will verify that the college that an applicant’s degree is obtained from has been accredited. A degree from an unaccredited college does not carry the same weight and may not qualify the candidate to work in an insurance career.

Last Updated: 04/07/2013

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