Spotlight on a Risk Management Career Path

Risk management professionals meeting in office

Are you good with numbers? Do you have a knack for analyzing situations? Are you rarely indecisive, and interested in doing varied tasks each day? If so, a risk management career could be the right choice for you.

Jobs in risk management generally focus on analyzing risk for companies and individuals in various situations. Risk management professionals also look for ways of mitigating risk in order to improve profitability by lowering costs. This guide takes a closer look at the career pathways in this field.

What Is a Risk Management Career?

As of October 2021, there have been 18 climate-related disasters in the U.S. that each caused more than $1 billion in losses,1 and the human and financial cost of climate-related disasters will only worsen in the years to come. Researchers at Cambridge University have determined that by 2040, climate change could drive additional costs of $100 billion annually on top of the current costs of disasters around the world.2

If you decide to pursue a risk management career, you could play a vital role in the planning, analysis and management of risk due to natural disasters and other events. A risk management career can be a rewarding line of work because it’s essential for the protection and growth of companies, as well for as the mitigation of risk to individuals. There are several types of jobs in risk management that you may want to pursue.

Common Types of Jobs in Risk Management

The jobs in risk management are varied, but they all require analytical reasoning, critical thinking and smart decision-making. Some of these jobs are performed in office settings, whereas others may require a mix of office work and fieldwork.

Claims Adjusters

When an accident occurs or a natural disaster strikes, claims adjusters are called upon to assess the damage. They may assess damage to homes, businesses or vehicles. In addition to taking a close look at the damage to the property, claims adjusters may need to interview witnesses, examine police reports and consult other professionals such as medical professionals or construction workers.

After collecting all of the necessary information, claims adjusters develop a report, which is then sent to a claims examiner. If the claims examiner approves the claim, the claims adjuster is responsible for negotiating the settlement with the policyholder and finalizing the claim.

Claims Examiners

Claims examiners are responsible for reviewing the reports sent to them by claims adjusters. They may also lend a hand to the claims adjusters when a claim is particularly complicated or when a natural disaster skyrockets the number of pending claims.

Some claims examiners work for life insurance companies. There, they assess new applicants for serious illnesses that would pose a high risk to the insurance company. When a covered individual passes away, the claims examiner confirms the cause of death before authorizing the payout.

Appraisers

As the job title suggests, appraisers are responsible for determining the value of an item that is covered by insurance, as well as the cost to repair an insured item that has been damaged. Many professionals in this subfield specialize in auto damage appraisals. Such appraisers must have a thorough knowledge of auto body shop work.

Loss Control Specialist

Whereas claims adjusters, examiners and appraisers deal with problems that have already occurred, loss control specialists seek to prevent those problems from occurring at all. Working for insurance companies, loss control specialists inspect insured businesses such as construction firms and manufacturing plants.

These professionals consider possible threats to the business, such as fire, crime or accidents. They identify specific issues, such as malfunctioning fire prevention systems or inadequate safety gear. Then, they advise the business on steps needed to reduce the potential for adverse events. They also advise the insurance company about appropriate premiums to charge the business for insurance.

Risk Management Specialist

The job of a risk management specialist is similar to that of a loss control specialist. However, you’ll typically find risk management specialists working for insured businesses. Their job is to identify potential risks within the various areas of the business and take steps to mitigate them.

For example, a risk management specialist may inspect working conditions, negotiate with unions, consider the potential for climate change-related damage and analyze the potential for legal liability. Risk management specialists may also specialize in finance. Within the finance department, these professionals analyze financial reports and cash flow information to check for potentially fraudulent activity.

Earning a Risk Management Degree

There is no universal degree requirement for individuals who wish to pursue a risk management career. Professionals come to this field from a range of academic backgrounds. They may hold degrees in finance, accounting, mathematics or business administration.

Some schools offer a dedicated risk management degree, which is the ideal choice for students planning on a risk management career. A risk management degree typically involves a multidisciplinary curriculum that draws from the disciplines of finance, mathematics and business management or administration. Although the exact curriculum will vary from one school to the next, you may expect to study any of the following topics: 

  • The principles and practices of financial accounting, including a close look at developing and analyzing financial statements
  • Business and managerial finance, including concepts such as asset valuation, assessment of risk, capital budgeting and time value of money
  • Property and casualty insurance with a look at commercial liability and property protection coverage
  • The principles and applications of life and health insurance
  • Concepts in enterprise risk management and organizational risk management, with an eye toward minimizing risk in support of a company’s long-term growth strategies

There are many different career paths available to graduates with risk management degrees. As you pursue your degree, you may not know exactly which risk management career path you’ll take. Working at an internship while in college is a great way to get an insider’s look at various careers in the field. Talk to your career services department, attend job fairs and contact professional organizations to find internship opportunities near you.

While working at an internship, take the initiative to ask questions about the field. For instance, you could ask your supervisor how they advanced to their position. Be positive when receiving feedback about your work, and take plenty of notes.

Lastly, be sure to obtain contact information for your internship supervisors. (You may need to ask them for letters of recommendation later on.) It’s also a good idea to keep the line of communication open, because the company where you interned could very well extend a job offer as you approach graduation.

Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Work in Risk Management?

Many professionals who work in risk management get started with a bachelor’s degree. An undergraduate degree is typically all you’ll need to work as an underwriter or claims adjuster, for example. However, earning a master’s degree could enable you to pursue promotion to a managerial position. 

If you’re thinking of earning a master’s degree in order to qualify for a promotion, you’ll likely go to graduate school after spending at least a few years working in the field. However, there are a few situations in which you might pursue a master’s immediately after earning your bachelor’s degree. For example, the job of loss control specialist or risk management specialist may sometimes require a master’s degree depending on the specific employer.

You can begin working toward a rewarding risk management career when you become an online or on-campus student at Grand Canyon University. The Colangelo College of Business is pleased to introduce one of our newest degree programs, the Bachelor of Science in Risk Management. Students will become confident and capable leaders as they acquire core competencies in risk analysis, mitigation strategies and financial principles.

Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to learn more about our exciting new degree program.

Retrieved from:

1National Centers for Environmental Information, Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters, Overview in November 2021

2Yale School of the Environment, Yale Environment 360, Natural Disasters Could Cost 20 Percent More By 2040 Due to Climate Change in November 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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