Workers Compensation Education Requirements for HR Professionals

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the types of workers' compensation certifications available to human resources professionals, and where to obtain the training and education necessary for certification.

In order for human resources professionals to adequately perform all of their work functions, they must have a decent understanding of workers' compensation. Such knowledge can be gained through Insurance Educational Association programs, college and university programs or stand-alone certificate classes.

Essential Information

Human resources (HR) professionals can be responsible for a variety of employee relations tasks, from hiring and firing to determining payroll. One aspect of some HR jobs is handling workers' compensation claims for workers injured on the job. While there is no apparent general standard of workers' compensation education for the HR field, there are a variety of options for specialized workers' compensation education.

Required Education College and/or insurance industry certification in workers' compensation
Other Requirements State workers' compensation certification
Median Salary (2018) $60,880 (Human Resources Specialists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 5% growth (Human Resources Specialists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Workers' compensation insurance, also known as workers' comp, refers to the process by which employees are compensated by their employers for injuries incurred at work. Employees who incur medical expenses or loss of wages due to these injuries may file a workers' comp claim with their employer to be reimbursed for these expenses. An HR professional may handle these claims, and may need specialized education to make sure the claims are properly filed and paid.

Professionals interested in gaining detailed knowledge in the field of workers' comp can enroll in multi-course certificate programs. It is often possible to take one class from a certificate program as a stand-alone course. Regardless of program duration, students taking detailed classes in workers' compensation usually focus on the laws and regulations associated with these claims. Because workers' comp laws vary by state, prospective students will want to ensure their education covers laws that apply to their jurisdiction.

Insurance industry organizations like the Insurance Educational Association (IEA) offer specialized workers' comp education. The IEA offers two exclusive certificate programs in workers' comp, including the Workers' Compensation Claims Administration (WCCA) program and the Workers' Compensation Claims Professional (WCCP) program. It is also possible to earn certificates or take stand-alone classes in workers' compensation through college or university extension and continuing executive education programs.

Insurance Educational Association Programs

The workers' comp designations offered by the IEA are targeted toward residents of Nevada, California and Arizona, with separate programs for each state. In most cases, students can complete the coursework online or at an IEA location in their state.

The two workers' comp certificate programs offered by the IEA cover different areas. The WCCA program, which is considered the less advanced of the two programs, consists of 3-5 classes, depending on the state. Class topics for the WCCA certificate include basic and advanced overviews of workers' compensation claims, managing disability after returning to work, permanent disability classification according to American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines and medical issues with claims.

The WCCP program is considered more advanced, and consists of 3-4 classes, depending on the state. The WCCP certificate is not available for Nevada. These classes cover advanced AMA disability classification, current labor codes and case law and an overview of advanced issues in workers' compensation law and claims. Both of these designations may require maintenance consisting of additional coursework or attendance at an IEA seminar.

College and University Programs

The workers' compensation education offered through colleges and universities varies by institution. Some schools, like Michigan State University, offer unique certification programs. Others offer more generalized workers' compensation education that focuses on local rules and regulations that impact the worker's comp claim filing and payment process. Class topics might include workplace disability management, claims procedures and an overview of local worker's comp laws.

Michigan State University's workers' compensation program is intended for students from across the U.S. with professional experience in workers' comp and knowledge of at least one jurisdiction's workers' comp laws. The program results in certification as a Certified Workers' Compensation Professional (CWCP), and is presented as an intensive 4-day seminar. The program's stated goals include reducing the cost of insurance and claims payments, increasing workplace safety, understanding medical aspects of workers' comp claims and screening for claim eligibility. The CWCP certification is valid for two years and can be renewed by taking an exam or showing evidence of continuing workers' compensation education.

Knowledge of workers' compensation is an essential component of human resources. HR professionals who choose to participate in an Insurance Educational Association program can select the WCCA program (3-5 classes), or the more advanced WCCP program (3-4 classes). HR professionals can also complete coursework at a college or university, which will offer different perspectives, information and completion times depending on the institution.

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