Unless you’ve been in the business long enough to be grandfathered, you’re probably required by your home state to complete a couple dozen continuing education hours each license renewal period.
Most agents see this requirement as a negative—something they have to do instead of something they get to do. But maybe there’s a better way of looking at it. Continuing education classes can help agents keep up with changes in the industry, learn about new solutions, clarify their understanding, expand into other product lines, and gain insight into what their competitors are doing. When taking in a classroom setting with other agents, CE courses provide agents with great networking opportunities, and there are some events that offer credit not only for agents but also for HR managers, giving brokers an opportunity to invite some of their most important clients.
Given the many potential benefits of continuing education, we’d recommend that you start thinking a little differently about this requirement. Here are a few ideas to help you pick which CE classes to attend:
We’ll start with our most important tip: don’t procrastinate! Agents who wait until the last minute to complete their continuing education requirements often find that their options are limited. They quickly sign up for whatever online course will help them meet the deadline without regard to the content or their level of interest in the topic. If this sounds like you, then you’re likely wasting a great opportunity to enhance your industry knowledge. If you plan ahead, you’ll probably find future CE classes to be much more beneficial.
In most states, you can go online, purchase a package deal from one continuing education provider, and complete your CE requirements with two or three multi-hour courses. While this might be the quickest way to complete your required hours, you’ll miss out on the different perspectives that multiple different instructors can provide. Instead of learning from a single CE provider, consider attending classes taught by different instructors. Everyone has a different viewpoint and a different teaching style, and you may find that some instructors are better at explaining difficult topics than others. This might even give you ideas about how to explain these concepts to your clients.
As we’ve already explained, you might be able to complete all of your required CE hours by taking online courses, but doing so will cause you to miss out on some great networking opportunities. Continuing education classes give agents a great excuse to gather together in one place on a periodic basis, and when that happens there’s also the opportunity to learn from each other. In a live classroom setting, you’ll benefit not only from the instructor’s knowledge but from the viewpoints of the other attendees.
Some agents sign up for continuing education classes simply because the provide CE credit, not because they care about the material. We would suggest that you choose your classes more carefully. Register for courses that actually interest you, because they’ll help you better understand a solution you already sell or because they’ll introduce you to a product that you should be selling. While you won’t get carrier-specific information in a CE class, you will gain valuable background knowledge about a solution and can follow-up by getting specific information from the various carriers that offer that solution. Often, you’ll find that the folks with the best solutions are the ones who teach the CE classes, so, simply schedule a follow-up meeting with the instructor after the class is over to learn more.
Some instructors prefer not to share their presentation with the audience as the information is proprietary, and that’s certainly fine. But it never hurts to ask if you can get a copy of the slides in PDF format. These slide decks can serve as great reference material or help refresh your memory about a particular topic.
Once an agent is grandfathered, there’s a tendency to avoid continuing education classes since they are no longer required. This is unfortunate because the industry is constantly changing and none of us knows all there is to know. In our opinion, you should continue to attend classes whether they’re required or not. That’s why it’s called continuing education, because it’s something we should continue to do throughout our lives. You’re never too old to learn.