The Top 5 Insurance Designations

Insurance designations can help anyone enter the insurance industry or advance their current career in the insurance industry. Senior managers HIGHLY recommend pursing any of the below property casualty insurance designations. Not only does it show management that you are proactive in advancing your career but it also shows that you are willing and capable of handling a multitude of difficult tasks.

Be sure to check with your employer or university before you get started. The majority of employers will pay for the cost of your exams and study material and a few university courses even count as credit towards the CPCU® designation.

Any of the below insurance designations will look great if you plan to enter the insurance industry. These designations are a great way to set yourself apart when interviewing and an even better way to improve your knowledge of the insurance industry

1) Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®)

This is the premier designation of the insurance industry. This insurance designation is often regarded as the “CPA of the insurance industry” and is only held by about 4% of the industry. In addition, this insurance designation is positively correlated with increased salary and management position.

This designation, offered by the Insurance Institute of America, consists of eight exams covering topics such as risk management, business law, insurance operations, financial planning and property-liability insurance.

You can learn more about the CPCU® designation here.

In addition, the API™ is only one extra exam after the CPCU®. It’s another quick designation to add to your CPCU®, see below for associate in personal insurance.

Download: Free Practice Exam (CPCU® | ARM™ | AINS™ | API™)

2) Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC)

The Certified Insurance Counselor is one of the many insurance designations administered by the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research.

This designation is highly regarded in the insurance agency world and claims to provide the best “practical and real world education”

The Certified Insurance Counselor designation consists of five CIC exams covering personal lines, commercial casualty, commercial property, life & health and agency management.

3) Certified Risk Manager (CRM)

The Certified Risk Manager designation is our top choice out of all the insurance designations if your career focus is risk management.

This designation is offered by the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research and focuses on managing risk, managing hazards, and managing loss exposures.

This insurance designation consists of 5 exams including principles of risk management, analysis of risk, control of risk, financing of risk and practice of risk management. These exams cover the most important risk topics such as how to identify, analyze, control and manage the operation, political and juridical risk.

4) Associate in Risk Management (ARM™)

Similar to the CRM designation, the Associate in Risk Management insurance designation focuses on all aspects of risk management.

This is another of the many insurance designations administered by the Insurance Institute of America. The ARM™ teaches you the science of risk management and provides you with the necessary skills and understanding to avoid, reduce and manage risk.

Unlike some of the longer insurance designations, the ARM™ designation is only three exams focusing on topics such as risk management principles, risk assessment, and risk financing.

Download: Free Practice Exam (CPCU® | ARM™ | AINS™ | API™)

5) Associate in General Insurance (AINS™)

Like some of the other insurance designations listed in our top 5 list, the Associate in General Insurance is also administered by the Insurance Institute of America.

The AINS™ designation focuses on general property and liability insurance knowledge for personal or commercial lines with an added benefit of selecting an area of insurance focus

The benefit of the AINS™ designation is that it offers 3 different exam options with a wide array of flexibility. To earn your AINS™ designation you must complete one exam on property and liability insurance policies, one exam on either commercial or personal lines and lastly, one exam of your choice from a wide array of about 39 various insurance topics.

Bonus: Associate in Personal Insurance (API™)

The Associate in Personal Insurance designation is sneaking onto our list of the top 5 insurance designations because it is only one extra exam after the CPCU® designation and it is a great way to transition into a few of the insurance designations listed above.

The API™ designation is an Insurance Institute of America designation consisting of only three exams, two of which (CPCU® 555 and CPCU® 556) count towards the CPCU® designation. The only additional exam is the API™ 28 exam.

The Associate in Personal Insurance designation focuses on personal insurance topics such as financial planning, property liability insurance, underwriting, and marketing. This is our number one choice on this list of insurance designations as a quick “transition designation”. This is a great entry level designation to choose because it counts towards two of your eight CPCU® exams and the API™ 28 exam also counts towards the AINS™ designation.

You can learn more about the API™ designation here.

Insurance Designations Review

You cannot make a wrong choice no matter which of the many insurance designations you choose. Our job as insurance professionals is to provide the best service possible to our customers and stakeholders and this is not possible without pursuing additional insurance education. In the growing insurance industry it is our job to better ourselves with additional education in order to fully understand every aspect of the insurance product so that we can confidently answer any and every question faced in our day to day lives.

Improving your insurance knowledge should be a daily goal. Not only does it help you personally build a better business and career, but it helps to build a better insurance industry.

Free Practice Exam

Ready to get started studying? We’re here to help (for free). Download one of our free CPCU® practice exams to get a feel for the type of content you will be studying.

Download: Free Practice Exam (CPCU® | ARM™ | AINS™ | API™)

More Information

For more information about the CPCU® designation checkout some of our other free resources:


CPCU® exams are administered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI does not administer the actual exams, we are an independent resource of free content, advice, and study material for professional insurance education. This blog is intended for informational purposes only, to inform prospective students of the benefit of the CPCU® designation.

CPCU®, API, ARM™, AINS™ are trademarks of the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (“The Institutes”). AssociatePI LLC is not affiliated with, associated with, endorsed by or otherwise supported or recognized by The Institutes in any way. AssociatePI LLC is not authorized by The Institutes to offer courses, practice examinations, or any other resources related to the Institutes’ designations or other programs.


Download your free CPCU®, ARM™, or API™ practice exam.