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Risk Management Certification and Certificate Programs

Learn about undergraduate and graduate certificate programs that offer risk management education. Review certification information along with the required coursework and possible career outcomes.

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Essential Information

Risk management classes prepare students to analyze potential risks through an understanding of financial records, business operations and economic trends. Certificate programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Focusing on topics such as financial accounting and wealth management, undergraduate certificate programs in risk management may be taken alongside degree programs. Sometimes offered online, graduate certificate programs are designed to increase students' knowledge of investing and financial risk management. At the graduate certificate level, experience and an undergraduate degree are usually required for admission. Completion of a certificate program typically qualifies students for voluntary certifications.

Undergraduate Certificate in Insurance and Risk Management

Risk management is the financial evaluation of business operations and decisions. At the undergraduate level, students pursuing bachelor's degrees in business or finance can supplement their education with a certificate in insurance and risk management. Completion of certificate programs can lead to progress toward professional certification in risk management, through the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.

Course Topics

Completion of these certificates requires as few as 5-8 classes, depending on one's choice of an undergraduate major. Common course topics include:

  • Introductory financial management
  • Types of insurance
  • Employee benefits
  • Financial accounting
  • Health and property risk management
  • Wealth management

Popular Careers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most employers prefer individuals with bachelor's degrees or higher in financial management positions, including those of risk management specialists or actuaries ( Graduates of graduate-level risk management certificate programs may be prepared for careers in finance or other industries; popular job titles include:

  • Chief risk officer
  • Risk management specialist
  • Financial risk manager
  • Actuary

Graduate Certificate in Risk Management

Risk management certificates are available for specific areas of interest, like health care or financial investing. Some certificate programs focus on financial risk management; others look at decision-making and risk management. Programs are often available through online study, as they are geared toward working professionals. These 1- to 2-semester graduate certificate programs usually require that applicants have work experience - sometimes a minimum of three years - and a bachelor's degree.

Course Topics

Students may have to complete as few as four courses to earn this certificate. Courses in a risk management program teach students to recognize and understand business, financial and insurance risks. Students learn to minimize risks and maximize business returns through effective evaluation of risks and financial choice in courses like:

  • Incident response
  • Strategic decision-making
  • Business continuity
  • Risk planning
  • Analysis of decisions
  • Risk and cost management

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, employment of actuaries was expected to increase 21% between 2008 and 2018. The agency noted that there were 19,590 individuals working as actuaries in the United States as of May 2011; many of these earned between $54,350 and $168,270 annually.

The industry an actuary works in can have an effect on potential salary. For example - for the same May 2011 time frame - those working in insurance agencies reported a mean salary of $101,000 annually, while those working in state government reported an annual salary of $76,360.

The BLS did not differentiate financial risk managers from other finance managers. As such, in May 2010, the agency reported that there were 477,690 financial managers working in the United States. Many of those individuals earned between $58,120 and $146,150 in May 2011. The field of financial management was expected to grow eight percent in the 2008-2018 decade.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification Information

Individuals seeking further education can obtain a Master of Business Administration in concentrations like risk management and insurance or strategic management and leadership. These programs require as few as two years to complete and include courses in actuarial science, risk management fundamentals and negotiations.

Organizations like Governance Risk Compliance Security International (GRCSI) offer certifications for risk management professionals ( In addition to a basic credential and an expert credential, certifications are available in the finance, information technology and operations management fields.

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