Insurance Agency Careers
An Insurance Agent helps individuals, families, and businesses select insurance policies that provide the best protection for their lives, health, and property. Insurance agents sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care.
Common Work Tasks
- Sell annuities that promise a retirement income
- Sell health insurance policies that cover the costs of medical care and loss of income due to illness or injury
- Sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term-disability insurance policies
- Cross sell financial planning services to clients, including retirement planning, estate planning, and assistance in setting up pension plans for businesses
- Prepare reports, maintain records, and seek out new clients
- Help policy holders settle their insurance claims
- Maintain regular contact with their clients to ensure that the clients’ financial needs are being met
- Hire customer service representatives to handle routine tasks such as answering questions, making changes in policies, processing claims, and selling more products to clients
- Complete paperwork and prepare presentations to prospective clients
- Travel to meet with clients, close sales, or investigate claims
Other Job Titles
Insurance Agents are also known by other titles, including:
- Captive Agent
- Securities and Commodities Sales Agent
- Financial Services Sales Agent
- Insurance Representative
Education, Training, and Experience
Education and Training
For insurance agent jobs, many companies and independent agencies prefer to hire college graduates—especially those who have majored in business or economics. High school graduates may be hired if they have proven sales ability or have been successful in other types of work.
Agents learn many of their job duties on the job from other agents. Many employers have their new agents shadow an experienced agent for a period of time. This allows the agent to learn how to conduct their business, how the agency interacts with clients, and how to write policies.
Certification and Licensure
Insurance agents must obtain a license in the States where they plan to work. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance. In most States, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified pre-licensing courses and who pass State examinations covering insurance fundamentals and State insurance laws. The insurance industry is increasingly moving toward uniform State licensing standards and reciprocal licensing, allowing agents who earn a license in one State to become licensed in other States more easily. Most State licensing authorities also have mandatory continuing education requirements focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.
Previous experience in sales or insurance jobs can be very useful in becoming an insurance agent. In fact, many entrants to insurance sales agent jobs transfer from other sales related occupations, such as customer service representative positions. In selling commercial insurance, technical experience in a particular field can help sell policies to those in the same profession. As a result, new agents tend to be older than entrants in many other occupations.
The median annual salary of an Insurance Agent is $44,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $113,000 annually, and the bottom 10 percent earn less than $25,000 annually. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of insurance agents are:
- Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities - $58,730
- Insurance Carriers - $58,920
- Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services - $50,790
- Management of Companies and Enterprises - $53,660
- Depository Credit Intermediation - $47,790
- 2006-2016 Employment growth: 13%
- Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 56,000
- Employment 2006 : 436,000
- Employment 2016: 492,000