Should I Become a Certified Workers' Compensation Professional?
Certified workers' compensation professionals utilize principles of safety and preventative management, disability law and claims management in order to help firms handle workers' compensation claims. Such professionals examine the claims submitted by individuals who would like to receive workers' compensation benefits. Many work for individual corporations, although workers' comp issues are often handled by human resources specialists in smaller firms. Such professionals may also work for workers' comp insurance companies.
Workers' compensation professionals, like other types of claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators, usually work full-time in an office setting. Much of their time is spent looking through documents and on computers and phones. Payscale.com reported in January 2016 that workers' compensation administrators earned a median annual salary of $50,222.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Finance/risk management, insurance, human resources|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Licensure required in some states; certification required/preferred|
|Experience||Varies; 3-7 years of claims-related experience could be required|
|Key Skills||Communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills|
|Salary||$50,222 (2016 median for workers compensation administrators)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Monster.com (November, 2012), UNC Charlotte, UC Davis Extension, Payscale.com (July 2015)
Certified workers' compensation professionals are not required to hold a degree, but a bachelor's degree in finance, risk management and insurance or human resources may be preferred by many employers. Licensure is required in some states, and most employers require or prefer certification. Experience requirements vary by employer, and 3-5 years of claims-related experience could be required. Workers will also need strong communication, analytical and interpersonal skills.
Steps for this Career
Let's see what steps have to be taken to become a certified workers' compensation professional.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Though not all employers require formal education, an undergraduate degree in a field such as insurance and risk management or human resources management can provide a good background for this career. Formal training programs provide prospective workers' compensation professionals with a broad understanding of risk management, insurance, accounting, business and investments. Real-world experience is gained through hands-on laboratories and internship opportunities.
Earn certification. Workers compensation professionals can become certified through such organizations as the Insurance Education Association (IEA), which offers the Workers' Compensation Claims Administration (WCCA) designation. This certification program provides an introduction to workers' compensation and includes courses in workers' compensation claims, medical coordination of workers' compensation and disability management. As a prerequisite, candidates are required to have either completed introductory courses or a seminar.
Step 2: Obtain Licensure
Some states require that professionals in this field obtain the Workers' Compensation (WC) Adjuster License. In order to be eligible for the designation, individuals will need to either pass an exam or an approved training course. Continuing education will also be required to maintain licensure.
Step 3: Gain Entry-Level Employment
An aspiring workers' compensation professional can gain entry-level employment as an insurance claims appraiser or adjuster. Appraisers and adjusters are responsible for managing cases, analyzing claims and pursuing resolution. Workers' compensation claims analysts must have advanced communication and organizational skills, as well as investigative and negotiation expertise.
Consider earning a master's degree. A master's degree in a field such as human resources management or risk management and insurance could help an individual advance into a more senior position. Alternatively, if one is interested in branching out into consulting work, a master's degree and work experience provide good preparation.
Gain advanced certification. Advanced certifications usually require previous work experience in the workers' compensation industry. The IEA offers the Worker's Compensation Claims Professional (WCCP) designation, which is a step up from their WCCA designation. The WCCP program covers advanced issues in workers' comp, such as permanent disability and advanced labor laws. To maintain this certification, it is required that members complete at least six hours of continued education courses annually.
To become a certified workers' compensation professional, you may need a college degree and licensing in addition to obtaining certification.