03 Sep USM-Industry Collaboration Bodes Well for All
In 2008, the University of Southern Maine introduced a new program called Risk Management & Insurance (RMI), an industry-funded initiative spearheaded by Ken Ross, a USM graduate and now the chair of the board of directors of Clark Insurance . The new academic offering was a collaborative venture between USM and Maine’s insurance industry to expose undergraduates to the social and economic impact the discipline provides in society. It also has helped create wonderful job opportunities. Since the first class graduated in 2010, the numbers now speak to a resounding rate of success.
- 61 students have graduated with the RMI concentration and 40 are now enrolled.
- The job placement rate for graduates of the RMI program is approximately 91%, with nearly all of the placements occurring at insurance organizations in Maine.
- Since 2008, a total of 586 students have taken the RMI 320 introductory course exposing not just RMI track students to the course but other students as well, a number of whom have been identified as having gone on to pursue careers in the field.
These numbers are significant for a variety of reasons that are good for Maine’s economy.
First, the insurance industry in Maine has more than 13,000 jobs with an estimated annual payroll of $939 million. Careers in the insurance industry are well paid with excellent benefits. Not only are the jobs well above the state’s median income levels, there are thousands of positions that soon will open as baby boomers retire and businesses continue to expand. Here’s a recent sampling of employment and compensation conducted by USM Professor Dana Kerr and RMI student Robert Daigle.
- Actuaries: The metropolitan area of Portland-South Portland-Biddeford has the 9th highest concentration of insurance actuaries of all metropolitan areas across the U.S. with an annual mean wage of $109,670 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators: As a state, Maine is ranked 2nd among all states for its concentration of insurance claims employment with an annual mean wage of $59,270. At the metropolitan area level, the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford area is ranked 4th in the country for its concentration of claims adjuster employment. Of the 1,750 people employed in insurance claims in the state, 1,340 of them are employed in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Underwriters: Maine is ranked 7th among all states for its concentration of employment in insurance underwriting with an annual mean wage of $70,920. The metropolitan area of Portland-South Portland-Biddeford is ranked 5th among all metropolitan areas in the country for its insurance underwriting job concentration. Of the 630 total number of underwriters employed throughout the state, 580 of them are employed in the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
The report concludes that relative to other occupations across all non-insurance industries within the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area, insurance underwriting has the 3rd highest job concentration according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Gratefully, insurance companies such as UNUM, Anthem, Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC), MMG Insurance, Harvard Pilgrim, Patriot Insurance, Patrons Oxford Insurance, Liberty, Acadia, Hanover and others have large offices in Maine with career paths and training programs that are fascinating. From research and risk assessment to loss control and marketing, insurance professionals often get to travel far afield, and sometimes globally, in service to their companies and their customers. Many also have financially supported the RMI program.
In addition, there are thousands of additional jobs within the distribution force – insurance agents and brokers, account managers and claim personnel who sell and service insurance programs for property/casualty, bonds, employee benefits, life, health, annuities, disability and liability.
Why do we highlight the RMI program at USM and the internships that are being offered by these employers? The university is in the midst of making these collaborative ventures the hallmark of their undergraduate and graduate programs. By methodically bringing the classroom into the workplace and workers onto campuses, every industry in Maine will begin to fill the employment pipeline with qualified candidates who will grow Maine’s economy and quality of life. After all, education is the ticket to greater prosperity.