Six reasons continuing education makes you better

It’s likely your employer would be eager to kick in some education funds to keep you engaged and in-the-know

Six reasons continuing education makes you better



Donna Gray, American Insurance Marketing and Sales (AIMS) Society

It’s easier than ever to pursue continuing education for insurance. In fact, it’s already been 27 years since all 50 states first allowed online continuing education (CE) courses, and the options have only expanded since.

The lack of availability or selection can’t be used as anyone’s excuse for missing out. You can pursue online, set-schedule courses, on-demand webinars, self-study or the more traditional on-site, in-person opportunities. Free and low-cost options abound. And if you haven’t asked yet, it’s likely your employer would be eager to kick in some education funds to keep you engaged and in-the-know; after all it’s a definite benefit for them.

Why should CE matter to you as an individual? In short, because there’s always more to learn. But ultimately, CE can help you:

1. Follow your passion. In all honesty, few of us set out to pursue insurance as a career, but it’s a remarkably rich field with plenty of opportunity to hone in on a niche you find particularly rewarding, whether that’s specializing in an individual industry or focusing on client service. As your career advances, CE provides the chance to really become an expert in the areas of insurance you enjoy. Do what you like; like what you do.

When it comes to designations, the options abound: AAI, AFSB, AIAF, AIC, AIM, AINS, AIS, AIT, AMIM, APA, API, ARC, ARe, ARM, ASLI, AU, CIC, CLU, CPCU, CPIA, REBC, RHU. That’s a long list of acronyms and you likely don’t recognize them all, but the point is that there’s at least one that’s perfect for you.

2. Improve the basics. Most of us have learned presentation or computer skills on-the-job, but have never taken the time to master PowerPoint or Excel or to really polish our presentation capabilities. Yet those basic aptitudes remain remarkably important to our ultimate success. Don’t short change yourself. Invest in training to get better.

3. Look good. Specifically, look good to upper management. Go-getters pursue CE. Those only interested in cashing a paycheck don’t. If you want to look invested, be invested.

4. Expand your mind. Change your view. Regardless of the subject, education in and of itself expands your thinking. That’s a good thing in any profession, but particularly in insurance where it pays to be a student of the world. After all, insurance is about identifying trends and uncovering risks, then creating innovative ways to eliminate or mitigate those risks. It’s about looking at the everyday and then considering the unexpected. That requires creative thinking, which is a talent employers value. In fact, in a 2013 survey on higher education by the Association of American Colleges & Universities , 93% of business leaders said that a “demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems” mattered more than a person’s specific degree.

5. Talk to others. Some courses are better than others at providing networking and helping you to create a professional group of peers. While online study and self-paced lesson plans provide real benefit to busy professionals, don’t underestimate the value of in-person CE offerings. As we’ve learned through our Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) designation classes at the AIMS Society, some of the best learning and real career-changing moments come not as much from the material presented, but from the subsequent layering of real-life experiences and practical suggestions from other class participants. Even if you’re limited to online education, be sure to take advantage of subject matter chats, LinkedIn groups and article comment sections.

6. Cash in. Study after study shows that education pays. The more you know, the more you can make, so invest in yourself. It could provide the best return of your life.

Donna Gray is the executive director of the American Insurance Marketing and Sales (AIMS) Society. The society’s goal is to encourage professional development throughout a person’s career, and it offers a variety of education opportunities, events and programs. The AIMS Society created and administers the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) professional designation, which focuses exclusively on insurance sales and marketing skill development.

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