The Alphabet Behind Your Name: Understanding its Value to Your Career


We read bylines of articles, hear introductions at conferences and see the seemingly endless jumble of letters behind someone’s name on a badge or business card. Do you know what those letters represent? Do you know the time and investment linked to earning those letters? If I’m an insurance or risk management professional looking for my next move in my career what can those letters do for me and my career?

I like to think of myself as a collector of those letters, better known as designations. While I’ve slowed a little bit on the number I’ve collected at this stage of my career, from when I was starting out in the insurance industry, I still know the value of those letters and adding more behind my name for my reputation as well as my employer’s. They represent someone who understands that continuous learning is a sign of a good insurance professional and a characteristic that employers value and are looking for.

Most insurance professionals will recognize the designations of the Institutes – CPCU (Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters), AIC (Associate in Claims), ARM (Associate in Risk Management), and AIDA (Associate in Data Analytics) to name a few. And the claims professional will recognize those designations from the Education Institute – SCLA (Senior Claims Law Associate). But there are some designations that IAIP members obtain that are equally or even more valuable, that we need to be sure become as well known.

Do even our members know the designations their membership in IAIP makes available to them? Let’s explore those designations:

One of the first members can learn is CIIP (Certified Insurance Industry Professional). The designation requires you to be a current member of IAIP for three or more continuous years, that you be employed in the insurance industry for a minimum of five years, that you take 16 hours of IAIP courses and complete a non-association industry educational program or designation.

Once you’ve earned your CIIP, you are eligible for the DAE (Diversified Advanced Education) designation. The DAE requires you to have earned and held the CIIP designation for three years, be a current IAIP member in good standing, meet industry and IAIP education, leadership and participation standards, and that you complete one of IAIP’s ethics programs, OR a state certified ethics program.

But I want to talk about the newer designations available that provide soft skills and skills that are sought and valued by employers in 2024 and beyond. These are the designations that offer success in your current role and open doors for your career aspirations no matter what your role or future goals. So, what soft skills to take your career into the future will you acquire while earning these designations? Life Hacker in their 02/15/2024 article The 11 Most In-Demand Job Skills (and How to Develop Them) | Lifehacker said the 11 most in-demand job skills are:

  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Management
  • Analytics
  • Teamwork/ Collaboration
  • Sales
  • Problem Solving
  • Research
  • Adaptability

The CLP (Certified Leadership Professional) requires you to complete 17 courses covering 52 hours of education and to pass the exams after each course. As the name implies, the course provides critical skills to start thinking and acting like a leader. So, what of the 11 skills will you develop in CLP? How about Fundamentals of Strategic Thinking or Critical Thinking Skills for problem solving, project management, or analytics. Or Coaching Conversations, Leadership 101, Adapting your Leadership Style, Employee Engagement, or Challenging Negative Attitudes for leadership. Maybe Delegating for Growth, The Exceptional Manager, Diversity Awareness or Managing Remote Teams for management skills. And project management, customer service, teamwork and problem solving could benefit from the courses on Succession Planning, Effective Negotiation Skills, How to Make Yourself Indispensable, and Ethics.  

CLP-A (Advanced Certified Leadership Professional) picks up where CLP leaves off. It requires applicants to successfully complete 10 courses covering 40 hours of education to help hone and improve your leadership skills. CLP-A expands on the skills you learned in CLP to help refine those 11 essential skills with Balancing Priorities, Resilience, and Systems Thinking to improve your problem solving, analytics and project management skills. Organizational Trust, The Toughest Supervisory Challenges, Effective Change Management, Developing Your Direct Reports, Managing Remote Teams, and Women and Leadership to make you better at leadership and management. Teamwork and customer service skills can benefit from How to Manage Your Emotions, Skillful Collaboration, Managing Up and the Golden Rule.

ACR (Associate in Client Relations) helps the student to develop their professional brand with essential client relations expertise. Students are required to complete thirteen two- or four-hour courses and pass quizzes after each. ACR, as the name implies, covers all things customer service, but it can help you improve the other 10 sought-after skills with Balancing Feelings and Facts for analytics, project management, research and problem-solving. Cultural Competency for leadership, management, teamwork and communications. Developing Clients for Life, Creating an Outstanding Client Experience, Overcoming Client Complaints, and Ethics in Client Relations are key to improving not just client service, but also your sales skills. Excellence in Business Etiquette, Excellence in Business Writing, Professional Communication Skills, and Understanding Generational Differences can make you a master of communication skills. And Listening with Intent, Negotiating Skills and Conflict Resolution, and Managing Time and Stress can make you the team player that gets things done, making your teamwork skills and reputation proceed you in any interview.

So, as you can see, you have an advantage in being a member of IAIP because you not only have access to these courses to help you acquire letters behind your name but also those critical sought-after skills for your career now and in the future.

Brenda McDermott, CPCU, CLP, SCLA, CIIP, SCLA, ARM, AIDA, AIC is a workers’ compensation claims specialist in The Hartford’s Major Case Unit. She is a past International Rookie, Claims Professional, Risk Management Professional of the Year and International CWC Speak-Off winner. She was the 2022 Region V Insurance Professional of the Year. She has been a long-time member of IAIP and served in multiple offices at the local, state, and regional levels. A past Region V RVP, she is currently serving as the Region 5 Marketing Director and Assistant to the RVP. She is co-chair of the international Marketing and Today’s Insurance Professional Committee. She is an MAL in Region 5 from Missouri.

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