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How to Become an Insurance Agent

By Quillan Inkwell

Published:

Are you someone who knows how to communicate with people, put things in a positive light, and have a natural gift for sales? Becoming an insurance agent might be the right fit for you. Being an insurance agent is not only about selling insurance policies but also helping to ensure that people are covered in their times of need.

In this article, we’ll explore what it means to be an insurance agent, what educational requirements are needed to become one, what are the job outlook and average salary like, and much more.

Career Summary

Insurance Agent Salary

Insurance Agent Salary

The insurance agent salary depends on the position, rank, and years spent on the job. Below are some average salaries for Insurance agents in the USA.

  • Entry Salary (US$69k)
  • Median Salary (US$92k)
  • Executive Salary (US$125k)

In comparison, in 2022, the average income per year in the USA was $61,900.

What does an Insurance Agent do?

An insurance sales agent is a professional who sells insurance policies to individuals and businesses on behalf of insurance companies. Their primary role is to help clients assess their insurance needs, provide guidance on coverage options, and facilitate the purchase of insurance policies.

The insurance agent job description includes: assessing client needs, recommending coverage options, quoting and presenting policies, selling insurance policies, assisting with claims, policy reviews and updates, and building and maintaining client relationships.

Insurance Agent Career Progression

  • Entry-Level Agent: This is the starting point for most insurance agents. You’ll focus on building foundational knowledge about insurance products and sales techniques under the guidance of more experienced agents.
  • Sales Agent or Producer: As you gain experience and demonstrate strong sales skills, you may be promoted to the title of “Sales Agent” or “Producer.” At this stage, you may have a steady stream of clients and are primarily focused on generating sales and meeting sales targets.
  • Senior Insurance Agent: With experience and a track record of success, you may advance to a senior insurance agent role.
  • Sales Manager: Advancing into a sales management role, you oversee a team of insurance agents.
  • Agency Manager: In this position, individuals oversee an entire insurance agency or branch, taking on responsibilities such as recruitment, budgeting, and overall business management.
  • Executive Roles: At the highest level of career progression, exceptional insurance professionals may reach executive roles within the insurance company or agency. These roles could include Vice President of Sales, Chief Sales Officer, or similar positions.
Insurance Agent Career Progression

Pros:

  • Helping Clients and Building Relationships
  • Variety in Work
  • Flexibility and Autonomy
  • Great Income Potential
  • Room for Growth

Cons:

  • Sales Pressure
  • Possible Irregular Income
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Emotional Tolls
  • High Workload
  • Competitive Industry

Useful Skills to Have as an Insurance Agent

  • Communication
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Analytical Skills
  • Organization
  • Relationship Building
  • Adaptability

Popular Insurance Agent Specialties

  • Property Insurance
  • Casualty Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Employee Insurance
  • Retirement Planning Insurance

How to become an Insurance Agent

Insurance Agent 5 Steps to Career

In order to become an insurance agent, you must meet specific criteria, including educational prerequisites and other necessary qualifications. Let’s explore the essential requirements for pursuing a career as an insurance agent.

Education

People looking to become insurance agents should consider themselves fairly lucky, as generally speaking, anything past a high school diploma is not required. Let’s answer some common questions regarding the educational requirements for becoming an insurance agent.

Do I Need a Degree to Become an Insurance Agent?

In the United States, the requirements to become an insurance agent vary from state to state. While a college degree is not typically mandatory, some states may have specific educational requirements or preferences for certain types of insurance licenses.

However, 53% of insurance agents in the USA have a bachelor’s degree, usually in business.

It’s important to note that while a degree is not a strict requirement, having a college education can still be beneficial in the insurance industry.

Why is it Important to Get a Degree in a Related Field?

A degree in a relevant field such as business, finance, or economics can provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that may give you a competitive edge in the industry. Also, some employers may prefer or require a degree for certain positions.

Additionally, having a higher education can be beneficial for a few other reasons:

  • A better understanding of the industry: The insurance industry involves a lot of sales, business, and economic aspects. The better you understand the industry, the easier your life as an insurance agent will be.
  • Increased chances of advancing or landing a specialty position: In order to land a specialty position, or to advance up in the company and take on some kind of managerial or business-related role, you may need a related degree.
  • Networking and connections: While pursuing a degree, you have the opportunity to build a network of peers, professors, and industry professionals. These connections can prove valuable for future job prospects, internships, and career advice.
  • Personal growth: Education not only imparts knowledge but also fosters personal growth. It can improve your communication, time management, and organizational skills, making you a well-rounded individual.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in a Related Field?

If we are referring to a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as business, economics, or anything else of the sort, it will take roughly 52 months to complete the program from when you first enroll to when you receive the degree. This tends to be about 1 semester longer than four years, with the typical range being anywhere between four and six years.

If you wish to engage in further education and get a master’s degree in any one of the related fields, it may take an additional 18 to 24 months.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Degree?

In the USA, if you plan on getting a bachelor’s degree in economics, it may cost you anywhere between $200 and $660 per credit on average. If you require 120 credits, as many courses do, you may end up spending between $24,000 and $79,200.

If you plan on getting a master’s degree, whether in business or economics, you can expect to spend anywhere between $44,000 and $57,000 for a two-year program.

Furthermore, if you plan on taking any sort of four-year bachelor’s degree program in the USA, you can expect to spend roughly $26,000 per year, or $104,000 over the course of four years at a public institution. However, the cost of bachelor’s degree programs in private universities may be much higher, up to or even over $55,000 per year, or over $223,000 over the course of four years.

Licensing

You will need to obtain a license to become an insurance agent in the United States. Each state has its own insurance licensing requirements and regulations, so the specific process may vary depending on where you plan to work as an insurance agent.

Contact the insurance department or regulatory body in your state to determine the specific requirements for becoming an insurance agent. They will provide you with the necessary information regarding licensing, education, and any other prerequisites.

Can I Obtain an Insurance Agent License Online?

Yes, in most cases, it is possible to become an insurance agent through online education. Many states in the US allow pre-licensing education to be completed through a variety of online courses that are offered by approved providers. Many people prefer taking online courses because they are convenient and flexible, and often very affordable as well.

Start by researching the requirements for becoming an insurance agent in your specific state. Check with your state’s regulatory body or insurance department to ensure that the pre-licensing education you are looking to take is accepted. Once you confirm that you are allowed to take online courses, you should then look for a variety of approved providers that offer pre-licensing courses online.

Once you have completed your online course, you must take and pass your licensing exam, which is generally administered by a third-party testing organization approved by the state. After passing your licensing exam, you can apply for a license and become an insurance agent in your state.

What Are Some Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become an Insurance Agent?

To help you on your journey of becoming an insurance agent, there are a variety of online resources that you can take advantage of. Here are just a few of the best ones.

  • Insurance Information Institute (III): The III is a reliable source of information on insurance industry trends, news, and educational resources. They offer various articles, reports, and guides that cover different types of insurance, industry terminology, and insurance basics.
  • Insurance Journal: Insurance Journal is an online publication that covers news, articles, and resources related to the insurance industry. They provide information on insurance trends, regulations, and professional development. Their “Education & Training” section offers articles and resources that can be helpful for aspiring insurance agents.
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC): The NAIC is an organization that supports insurance regulation and consumer protection in the United States. Their website offers valuable resources, including publications, educational materials, and licensing information specific to each state.
  • Insurance License Exam Study Guides: Many websites offer study guides and practice exams specifically designed to help you prepare for the insurance licensing exams. Examples include ExamFX, Kaplan Financial Education, and PreLicense.com. These resources can help you familiarize yourself with the exam format and test your knowledge of insurance concepts.
  • State Insurance Department Websites: Each state has its own insurance department or regulatory body that oversees insurance licensing. These websites often provide detailed information on the requirements, exams, and licensing processes specific to your state. They may also offer study materials and recommended resources to help you prepare for the licensing exam.

Practical Experience

Once you become a licensed insurance agent, many insurance agencies or companies provide on-the-job training programs. These programs are designed to familiarize newly licensed agents with the company’s products, sales techniques, customer service practices, and other essential skills for their specific roles. Combining theoretical knowledge with practical experience can help you excel as an insurance agent.

What to Expect During Your First 90 Days as an Insurance Agent | Video by Cody Askins

What Are Internship Opportunities for an Insurance Agent?

Internship opportunities for aspiring insurance agents can provide valuable hands-on experience and insights into the industry. Here are a few potential avenues to explore for insurance agent internships:

  • Insurance Companies and Agencies: In insurance companies, interns work closely with experienced agents, learning about insurance products, sales strategies, customer service, and administrative tasks. Similarly, interning at independent agencies offers exposure to client management, policy underwriting, claims processing, and marketing, providing a comprehensive understanding of the insurance industry and different product lines.
  • Brokerage Firms: Insurance brokerages specialize in connecting clients with insurance policies from different insurance companies. Interning at a brokerage firm can provide insight into the brokerage process, including risk assessment, policy selection, and negotiation. This experience can be particularly beneficial for individuals interested in working with commercial insurance and larger-scale accounts.
  • Professional Associations and Networks: Insurance-related professional associations, such as the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) or state-specific insurance associations, may offer internship opportunities or connect aspiring insurance agents with member agencies. These associations can provide networking opportunities, educational resources, and access to industry events that may lead to internships or job opportunities.

To find internship opportunities, you can explore the websites of insurance companies, independent agencies, and brokerage firms to see if they have dedicated internship programs or contact them directly to inquire about potential internships. Additionally, utilize online job search platforms, internship websites, and professional networking platforms to discover internships in the insurance industry.

What Skills Will I Learn as an Insurance Agent?

As an insurance agent, you will develop a range of skills that are essential for effectively serving clients and navigating the insurance industry. Here are some key skills you can expect to learn and enhance as an insurance agent:

  • Insurance Knowledge: You will acquire in-depth knowledge of insurance products, policies, and coverage options. This includes understanding different types of insurance such as auto, home, life, health, and commercial insurance. You will learn how to assess clients’ needs and recommend appropriate coverage solutions.
  • Sales and Marketing: Selling insurance requires strong sales and marketing skills. You will learn how to identify and prospect potential clients, build relationships, and effectively communicate the value and benefits of insurance products. This includes learning persuasive techniques, negotiation skills, and the ability to handle objections.
  • Customer Service: Providing exceptional customer service is crucial for building and maintaining client relationships. You will learn how to address client inquiries, provide accurate information, resolve concerns, and handle claims effectively. Developing strong interpersonal and communication skills is vital in delivering excellent customer service.
  • Analytical Skills: Insurance agents need to analyze clients’ risks and determine appropriate coverage options. You will develop the ability to assess clients’ needs, evaluate risk factors, and recommend suitable insurance plans. This involves analyzing policy terms, coverage limits, deductibles, and premiums.
  • Problem-Solving: Insurance agents often encounter complex situations and client-specific needs. Developing problem-solving skills will enable you to navigate challenges, find creative solutions, and provide tailored insurance solutions to meet clients’ unique requirements.
  • Organization and Time Management: Managing multiple clients, policies, and administrative tasks requires strong organizational and time management skills. You will learn to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and efficiently manage paperwork, applications, and policy documentation.
  • Ethical Conduct: Insurance agents are expected to adhere to ethical standards and act in the best interests of their clients. You will learn about insurance laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines. Upholding integrity, confidentiality, and professionalism are important aspects of being an insurance agent.
  • Technology Proficiency: The insurance industry is increasingly utilizing technology and digital tools. As an insurance agent, you will learn to use insurance software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, online quoting platforms, and other digital tools to streamline processes and enhance productivity.
  • Continuous Learning: The insurance industry is constantly evolving, with new products, regulations, and market trends emerging. As an insurance agent, you will develop a mindset of continuous learning to stay updated on industry changes, maintain your licensing requirements, and enhance your knowledge and skills.

What is the Work-Life Balance of an Insurance Agent?

The work-life balance of an insurance agent can vary depending on various factors, including the agency or company they work for, their client base, specific role within the agency, and personal preferences. Here are some considerations regarding work-life balance as an insurance agent:

  • Flexibility in Schedule: Insurance agents often have some flexibility in setting their schedules. This can be advantageous for achieving a better work-life balance. You may have the ability to schedule client meetings, prospecting activities, and administrative tasks at times that work best for you and your clients. However, keep in mind that there may be specific hours of operation or client availability that you need to accommodate.
  • Client Demands: Insurance agents typically work closely with clients, and their needs may require some flexibility in your schedule. Clients may require assistance outside of regular business hours, especially during emergencies or claims processes. Balancing client demands while maintaining personal boundaries can be important for achieving a healthy work-life balance.
  • Seasonal Workload: The workload of an insurance agent can vary throughout the year. Certain times, such as open enrollment periods or renewal seasons, may be busier than others. It’s important to anticipate and plan for these periods to ensure you can manage your workload effectively and maintain a balanced lifestyle.
  • Support from the Agency: The level of support and resources provided by the agency or company you work for can impact your work-life balance. Some agencies may prioritize work-life balance initiatives and provide resources to help agents manage their workload effectively. It’s important to consider the culture and support systems in place when evaluating potential employers or agencies.

What’s the Career Outlook for Insurance Agents?

The job outlook for insurance agents in the USA is positive. According to official statistics, employment in insurance sales is projected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. It is projected that roughly 52,700 openings for insurance sales agents will open each year for the next decade.

Insurance Agent Popular Career Specialties

What Are the Job Opportunities for an Insurance Agent?

There are various types of insurance jobs available across the industry. Here are some common types of insurance jobs:

  • Insurance Agent/Producer: Insurance agents, also known as insurance producers, are professionals who sell insurance policies to individuals and businesses. They assess client needs, provide guidance on coverage options, and facilitate the purchase of insurance policies.
  • Underwriter: Underwriters evaluate insurance applications, assess risks, and determine the terms and conditions of insurance coverage. They analyze information about the applicant, such as their health history, driving record, or property details, to determine the appropriate coverage and premium.
  • Claims Adjuster: Claims adjusters investigate insurance claims to determine the validity of the claim and the extent of coverage. They evaluate damages, negotiate settlements, and work with policyholders, witnesses, and other parties involved in the claim.
  • Risk Manager: Risk managers work within organizations to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. They analyze risks associated with various aspects of the organization’s operations, such as property, liability, and employee safety. They may recommend insurance coverage and implement risk management programs.
  • Actuary: Actuaries assess risks and uncertainties in the insurance industry. They use mathematical models and statistical analysis to determine the probability of events, such as accidents or natural disasters, and their potential financial impact. Actuaries help insurance companies set premiums, evaluate reserves, and manage financial risks.
  • Insurance Broker: Insurance brokers act as intermediaries between insurance companies and clients. They assess client needs, research insurance products from multiple companies, and recommend appropriate coverage options. Brokers help clients navigate the insurance market and negotiate policy terms.
  • Loss Control Specialist: Loss control specialists work to prevent or minimize potential losses for insurance companies or organizations. They assess risks, provide safety recommendations, and develop risk management strategies. Loss control specialists often focus on preventing accidents, injuries, or property damage.
  • Insurance Compliance Specialist: Compliance specialists ensure that insurance companies adhere to laws, regulations, and industry standards. They monitor regulatory changes, develop compliance policies and procedures, and conduct internal audits to ensure compliance with legal and ethical requirements.
  • Independent Agent/Entrepreneurship: Some insurance agents choose to become independent agents and establish their own agencies or brokerages. This path offers the freedom to build their own client base, choose which insurance products to offer, and run their business independently.

These are just a few examples of the wide range of insurance jobs available in the industry. Each role has its specific responsibilities and requirements, providing opportunities for individuals with different skills and interests to contribute to the insurance sector.

What Types of Companies Hire Insurance Agents?

Insurance agents can be hired by various types of companies in the insurance industry. Here are some common types of companies that hire insurance agents:

  • Insurance Companies: Insurance agents are often employed by insurance companies directly. These companies may offer a wide range of insurance products, such as auto, home, life, health, and commercial insurance. Insurance agents working for insurance companies may operate as captive agents, representing and selling policies exclusively for that specific company.
  • Independent Insurance Agencies: Independent insurance agencies work with multiple insurance companies and offer a variety of insurance products. These agencies hire insurance agents who can work with clients to assess their insurance needs, provide policy options from different insurers, and help clients select appropriate coverage.
  • Brokerage Firms: Insurance brokerage firms act as intermediaries between clients and insurance companies. They assess client needs, research insurance products from various insurers, and recommend suitable coverage options. Insurance agents working for brokerage firms assist clients in finding the best policies that align with their specific requirements.
  • Employee Benefits Providers: Some companies specialize in providing employee benefits packages to other businesses. These companies hire insurance agents who specialize in employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, disability coverage, and other workplace benefits. Agents in this role work closely with businesses to design and manage employee benefit programs.
  • Financial Institutions: Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions often have insurance divisions or partner with insurance companies to offer insurance products to their customers. Insurance agents may be employed by these financial institutions to sell insurance policies and provide insurance-related services to their clients.
  • Risk Management Companies: Risk management companies work with businesses to identify and manage risks associated with their operations. These companies may employ insurance agents who specialize in risk management, helping clients assess risks, develop risk mitigation strategies, and ensure appropriate insurance coverage is in place.
  • Professional Services Firms: Professional services firms, such as accounting firms or law firms, may have insurance divisions to provide insurance solutions to their clients. Insurance agents working in these firms may offer specialized insurance products tailored to the needs of professionals in specific industries.
  • Direct Sales Companies: Some companies utilize direct sales models to sell insurance directly to consumers. These companies often hire insurance agents who work as independent contractors to promote and sell insurance products through direct marketing, telemarketing, or online channels.

Should I Become an Insurance Agent?

If you are someone who is organized, has a keen eye for detail, likes building relationships with people, and has a knack for sales, then becoming an insurance agent is definitely an option to consider.

This is a fairly well-paying position, even at the entry level, and there’s plenty of room for growth and opportunity. There are dozens of different opportunities for advancement in this field, with many specialties that you can go into.

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