Insurance Agent

Career Information

Insurance agent with clients
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An insurance agent helps clients choose insurance policies that suit their needs. He or she may also be called an insurance sales agent. Clients include individuals and families as well as businesses. A captive agent works for an insurance company, and only sells that company's products. An independent insurance agent or broker represents several companies. Types of insurance include property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance.

Many insurance agents also sell mutual funds, variable annuities and other securities.

Quick Facts About Insurance Agents

  • In 2015, they earned a median annual salary of $48,200 and hourly wages of $23.17.
  • Just over 466,000 people were employed as insurance agents in 2014.
  • Most are independent agents who work for insurance agencies and brokerages, while others are captive agents employed by insurance carriers.
  • Most jobs are full-time positions.
  • The job outlook for insurance agents is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.

A Day in an Insurance Agent's Life

These are some typical duties found in online ads for insurance agent jobs advertised on Indeed.com:

  • "Provide leads, schedule appointments, identify client needs, and market appropriate products"
  • "Close the sale on current prospects"
  • "Meet new business production goals and objectives as established"
  • "Provide prompt, accurate, and friendly customer support"
  • "Build business referral relationships"
  • "Support sales staff with inputting quotes and working renewals"
  • "Be a team player that wants to be a part of something bigger than just his/her job"

How to Become an Insurance Agent

Employers prefer to hire insurance agents who have college degrees, particularly in business or economics.

They might consider hiring a high school graduate who has proven sales ability.

Every state requires insurance agents to be licensed. They need separate licenses to sell life and health insurance or property and casualty insurance. In most states sales agents must complete pre-licensing courses and pass state examinations.

What Soft Skills Do You Need?

In addition to education, training and licensing requirements, you will also need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to do your job. They are:

  • Listening Skills: In order to understand your clients' needs, you need excellent listening skills.
  • Reading Comprehension: You must be able to understand written documents describing insurance instruments.
  • Verbal Communication: Insurance agents have to convey information about the products they sell.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Your ability to sell policies depends on your relationships with other people. You must be able to establish good rapport with potential clients, understand their needs and persuade them to give you their business.

    What Will Employers Expect From You?

    In addition to skills and experience, what qualities do employers look for when they hire workers? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed.com:

    • "Strong computer skills (Outlook, Word, Excel, agency management software, quoting software)"
    • "Enthusiastic about the role that insurance and financial products play in members' everyday lives"
    • "Possess a genuine willingness to learn, be intuitive and resourceful and be coachable"
    • "Must be organized, able to multi-task, and efficient"
    • "Must be aggressive/assertive, a self-starter, and able to influence others"

    Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

    Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

     DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2015)Minimum Required Education/Training
    Advertising Sales RepresentativeSells space in magazines and newspapers, and air time on radio and television programs, to advertisers 

    $48,490

    Bachelor's Degree Preferred; On-the-Job Training
    Sales RepresentativeSells products for a manufacturer or wholesaler$76,190Bachelor's Degree Preferred
    Stock TraderBuys and sells stock for investors$71,550Bachelor's Degree
    Retail SalespersonSells products directly to consumers, usually in a store.$21,780H.S. or Equivalency Diploma Preferred

    Sources:
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited May 28, 2016 ).
    Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited May 28, 2016).

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