Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a risk manager? As a risk manager, you get to help businesses identify, analyze, and mitigate all kinds of risks – from financial and operational, to reputational and beyond. It’s an exciting career path for anyone interested in business, analysis, and problem-solving.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to become a certified risk manager. You’ll learn exactly what skills you need, how to get the proper education and experience, which certifications to obtain, and tips for advancing your career. Let’s get started!
Skills Needed for Risk Management
To be successful as a risk manager, you’ll need to cultivate certain essential skills. These include:
Strong analytical abilities are crucial for examining data to uncover patterns and project potential outcomes. Risk managers leverage analytics to determine the probability and impact of various risks to an organization. Developing sharp analytical skills will help you thrive in this career.
As a risk manager, you need to deeply understand business operations to pinpoint vulnerabilities. Critical thinking enables you to identify risks, comprehend complex situations, and evaluate solutions. Sharpening your critical thinking is a must.
Clear and effective communication is vital when collaborating with stakeholders across the business. As a risk manager, you must convey technical data, explain your analysis, and persuade executives to take action. Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential.
Managing mountains of data is central to the risk manager’s role. You’ll need to adeptly organize information to derive insights and develop risk reduction strategies. Organization skills are indispensable.
In the world of risk management, change is a constant. New risks emerge as the business evolves. You must be able to rapidly adapt your analysis and recommendations as the situation shifts. Developing adaptability is key.
Now that you know the core skills, let’s explore the education you need to break into risk management.
While risk managers hail from diverse educational backgrounds, most positions require at least a bachelor’s degree.
Ideally, your bachelor’s degree should be in a field like finance, business administration, economics or statistics. These majors will equip you with foundational knowledge of business operations, data analysis, and risk concepts.
Coursework in statistics and data analytics is strongly recommended to build critical analytical abilities. Finance and accounting courses also provide useful risk management grounding.
Master’s Degree or MBA
Although not always required, earning a master’s degree or MBA can give your career a strong boost. These advanced programs enable you to gain specialized expertise and credentials that make you more competitive for risk management roles.
An MBA is a frequent path for aspiring risk managers, as it expands your business acumen. Programs with concentrations in risk management or analytics are perfect for this career.
With the right education under your belt, it’s time to grab some valuable experience.
Before becoming a fully certified risk manager, it’s wise to gain some hands-on experience. Here are smart ways to do it:
- Find an entry-level risk analyst or risk management trainee position at a company. These roles allow you to learn on the job from seasoned risk experts.
- If you have an internship in college, choose one in risk management, analysis or a related field to acquire relevant experience.
- Work in an adjacent field like insurance underwriting, auditing, or as a financial analyst. These build transferable skills.
- Consider rotational or leadership development programs at large companies. These provide exposure to risk management.
- Decide if you want to specialize in a niche like healthcare risk, cyber risk, or supply chain risk. Seek out experience in your niche.
As you gain experience, you’ll be ready to earn those coveted risk management certifications.
Professional certifications are the golden tickets to landing a risk management job and advancing your career. They prove to employers that you have the specialized knowledge and skills to be an effective risk expert.
Here are some of the most respected certifications in the field:
- ARMP: The Associate in Risk Management Principles is perfect for those newer to risk with under 2 years of experience.
- CRM: The Certified Risk Manager designation is one of the most coveted and comprehensive certifications. To earn it, you must complete five 2.5 day courses on risk principles, analysis, control, financing, and practices.
- CRMP: The Certified Risk Management Professional certification verifies your expertise through industry-standard examinations. Two years of experience is required.
- RIMS-CRMP: Offered by the Risk and Insurance Management Society, this credential focuses on competency in technical risk skills.
After specializing, niche certifications can give you an extra edge. Popular options include:
- CPHRM: Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management
- GRCP: GRC Professional Certification in governance, risk and compliance
- ORM: Operational Risk Manager certification for financial services
- CRMA: Certification in Risk Management Assurance for audit and control professionals
The more certifications you have, the more attractive you become to employers and recruiters. But the learning doesn’t stop there…
Maintaining Your Certifications
Like most professional credentials, risk management certifications must be kept current through recertification. Requirements vary but often include:
- Continuing education credits earned through courses or conferences
- Payment of recertification fees to the issuing organization
- Passing updated exams on the latest industry trends
- Earning Educational Credit Units (ECUs) via learning activities
Let expired certifications lapse too long, and you may have to retake courses or retest entirely. Set calendar reminders so you always recertify on time!
Networking and Finding Jobs
Beyond building your skills and credentials, networking is critical for landing your first risk management job or promotion.
- Join professional groups like RIMS or PRMIA to access job boards, career advice, and networking events full of potential contacts.
- Attend industry conferences and seminars to connect with fellow professionals and recruiters. Exchange business cards and LinkedIn info!
- Develop relationships and seek mentors within your current company who can advise you on available risk roles.
- Spruce up your resume and LinkedIn profile to showcase your risk management credentials, skills, and experience.
- Reach out to your personal and professional connections and let them know you’re looking. Networking is key!
Career Advancement and Salary Potential
As a certified risk management professional, you can look forward to strong career advancement prospects and salary potential.
- The average salary for risk managers is $115,000 annually, with top earners surpassing $200,000.
- With experience, risk managers often move into senior analyst, risk director, Chief Risk Officer (CRO), or other executive positions.
- The job growth rate for risk management is projected to be around 19% over the next decade – much faster than average!
In other words, risk management offers tremendous opportunities for career development, leadership roles, and salary growth over time.
We’ve just covered everything you need to launch an exciting risk management career – from the must-have skills, education, and experience to earning those all-important certifications.
Remember to continuously build your expertise, nurture your professional network, and maintain your credentials. With passion and dedication, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful, in-demand risk management expert!