How to Become an Insurance Agent
Great communication skills, analytical skills, initiative, and self-confidence make you the perfect candidate to become a successful insurance agent.
Everyone needs insurance to protect their car, home, health, and even their children’s futures. Before buying insurance, people need to compare premiums, coverage, deductibles, and who has the most humorous commercials—it can be overwhelming at the best of times. When you learn how to become an insurance agent, you can assess your clients’ situations and advise them on which insurance policy is right for them.
Gaining this depth of knowledge about the insurance industry requires training, licensing, and a lot of drive. You decide what types of insurance you sell and the setting you sell it in. The insurance business can be financially rewarding, giving you a stable income and control over how much additional money you make based on the effort you put in.
What Is an Insurance Agent?
As an insurance agent, you’ll work with clients to help them choose what type of insurance is best for their situation. Newlyweds, new parents, and those getting ready to retire might be ready to talk to you about life insurance. Meanwhile, nearly every state requires drivers to have auto insurance.
Once you learn how to become an insurance agent, you can choose what type of insurance and other products you’d like to work with. This can include:
- property and casualty insurance
- auto insurance
- life insurance
- health insurance
- long-term care insurance
Working in insurance, you can expand your business by also offering financial-planning services, including retirement planning and estate planning. Special licensing allows insurance agents to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities.
What Do Insurance Agents Do?
Much of your work as an insurance agent involves customer contact, beginning with calling potential clients to offer your services. You’ll spend a good amount of time talking with your clients to discuss their existing coverage and explain the features of different insurance policies. You’ll also keep track of insurance policy renewals and electronic and paper records for each of your clients.
Check out this comprehensive insurance agent job description for more details about a typical day in the life of an insurance agent and the skills and qualifications you’ll need to be successful.
How to Become an Insurance Agent
You can choose between two career paths as an insurance agent. If you work for a single insurance company such as State Farm or Progressive Insurance, you represent only that company and sell their products. This is called being a captive agent.
You can also choose a more flexible job as an independent insurance agent by working for an insurance company with the ability to sell policies from several companies.
Insurance Agent Training
Most of your training as an insurance agent will be on-the-job. Although many agents have a bachelor’s degree in finance or business, you may be able to find a position that only requires a high school diploma or equivalent, especially if you’ve taken business, math, or finance classes or worked in sales or customer service positions. As a new employee, you might be able to shadow someone at your agency who can show you how to become an insurance agent.
Even the most money-savvy students need a little help funding their education. Invest in your future with these scholarships for insurance majors.
Insurance Agent License Requirements
All insurance agents must be licensed in the states where they work. You can obtain your license before applying for jobs, but many agencies will help you get your license after they hire you. Depending on what type of insurance or other products you sell, you may need more than one license.
To earn your license in some states, you’ll need to complete approximately 20 hours of pre-licensing courses in how to become an insurance agent and then pass an exam testing your knowledge of insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws. Exams and licenses are managed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Continuing Education for Insurance Agents
Most states require you to take continuing education courses to renew your license every two years. Most often this will include 24 hours of classes that focus on subjects including:
- insurance laws
- consumer protection
- the technical details of insurance policies
How Long Does It Take to Become an Insurance Agent?
The time it takes you to become a licensed life insurance agent can range from a few weeks to several months. It all depends on how quickly you can complete the pre-licensing coursework and understand the business well enough to pass the licensing test.
How Much Do Insurance Agents Make?
Monster data shows the median insurance agent salary is $58,190 per year. Salaries range from around $37,800 to more than $92,500, depending on your location, experience level, and area of expertise. Some insurance specialties earn a bit more, with medical insurance agents topping the list at a median salary of around $65,180, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Many independent insurance agents are paid only by commission. Agents who work for a single insurance company may be paid salary, salary plus commission, or salary plus a bonus.
You can look up the average salary for an insurance agent in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Insurance Agent Jobs
To attract top insurance companies hiring, you’ll need to invest some time into creating a stand-out resume and cover letter. Be sure that your insurance agent resume includes information about any previous sales or customer service positions you’ve had and any business or public speaking classes you’ve taken.
Once you’re ready to apply for jobs, check out the insurance agent jobs available on Monster.
The BLS identifies these as the top five states for insurance agent jobs:
The top areas are:
Looking for Insurance Companies Hiring? Do This Next
Insurance sales is one of the most lucrative careers you can begin right out of high school. With so many opportunities for growth in the field, where you go from there is up to you. Now that you know how to become an insurance agent, upload your resume to Monster for free so that recruiters can find you for the top insurance agent jobs in your area.