A career in insurance can be very rewarding. If you want to learn how to become an insurance agent, you need the right steps. Of course, it’s a good idea to understand the job duties, too.
Insurance agents are very important members of any community. They help people figure out the type of insurance coverage needed. From auto insurance to home insurance to health insurance, you can help others as an agent.
Before you decide to go into a career as an insurance agent, you should understand this job. Let’s look at what you will be doing and the steps to follow to become an insurance agent.
Job Duties of an Insurance Agent
As an insurance agent, you are basically a salesperson for insurance policies. You will help clients find the coverage they need and get the best possible deal. It’s also common for agents to promote specific types of insurance for businesses and individuals.
Many insurance agents will also offer financial planning services. This might include retirement preparation or investment plans.
Some of the most common job duties of an insurance agent include:
- Identifying opportunities for sales
- Overseeing the portfolios of your clients
- Developing risk management strategies
- Taking care of policy renewals
- Tracking claims
Along with these duties, you will likely handle some basic administrative tasks.
Two Common Types of Insurance Agents
Before you become an insurance agent, it’s important to know the two different types of agents. While they will have similar job duties, they will be rather different.
If you become an independent insurance agent, you can sell insurance for many different companies. This allows you to look at the different rates offered for your clients. Often, this type of agent is called a broker. You will represent the client, not the carrier.
As a captive insurance agent, you will sell insurance for one company. You will have an employer and that will be the company you sell insurance for. This makes it easier to streamline the process, but you will represent the insurance company, not the client.
Both types of agents are rather common. However, if you’re an independent agent, you will likely work for yourself. Captive agents are more likely to be employees of a company.
How to Become an Insurance Agent in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Finish High School or Get a GED
You will need a high school diploma or GED to become an insurance agent. Make sure you complete high school or get your GED, as it’s a requirement in most states to get your license.
Step #2 – Get a Bachelor’s Degree (optional)
While you don’t need a college degree to become an insurance agent, it can be helpful. Many companies look for applicants with degrees. You may want to take courses in finance, business, and economics during your college studies.
Those with a marketing degree might be a good fit for this career, too. Some colleges will offer programs in risk management or even in insurance, which can be helpful. This type of degree can even lead to a career in underwriting.
Step #3 – Complete the License Training
Before you can work as an insurance agent, you will need to complete the licensing training requirements. Each state is a little bit different. You will likely spend about a month in-classroom training or going through a self-study program. It may also be necessary to provide fingerprints and have a background check done.
Step #4 – Get Your License
You will need a license to work as an insurance agent. This will require you to pass a licensing exam, which will cover the state insurance laws and insurance concepts. You may also need to hold a Series 6 or Series 7 securities registration, depending on the type of insurance you will be selling.
Step #5 – Complete On-The-Job Training
After getting hired by an insurance company, you will likely need to complete on-the-job training. This training will help you learn the different types of insurance the company offers. You will work with more experienced agents during this training, as well.
Common Skills of Insurance Agents
If you want to become an insurance agent, you need the right skills and traits. Not everybody is suited to be an agent. Some of the skills and traits you should have include:
- Excellent Communicator – You will work with clients and underwriters often. It’s important to have great communication skills both verbal and written.
- Customer Service Skills – If you’re excellent at providing customer service, you will make for a good insurance agent. This is a vital skill for this career.
- Patience – You will need to be patient as it takes time to build up your clients
- Persistence – This is a sales type of position and persistence is necessary. You will likely get turned down often.
- Entrepreneurial Mindset – Self-starters make great insurance agents. Those with the ability to work independently are suited for this type of career.
- Honesty – You must be honest if you want to work as an insurance agent.
It’s also a good idea to have energy and a positive attitude. Sales positions require the right type of person with a positive outlook on life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Insurance Agent
How much can I make as an insurance agent?
According to Indeed.com, an insurance agent can make an average salary of about $56K per year. As you gain experience, the average salary can go up to nearly $70K per year.
Top employers will pay quite a bit more, too. Some companies pay more than $100K for good insurance agents. Many others pay well above the average salary.
Your location will also impact your salary. New York is the highest paying city with Phoenix, Las Vegas, Orlando, Dallas, Chicago, Tampa, and Charlotte all paying above the national average.
With the right skills and licenses, you can make more, as well. An insurance producer license and a life insurance license give you the highest increases. A FINRA license can also help you earn a higher salary.
Those with SharePoint, CRM Software, and telemarketing skills can earn more, as well. Business management and sales management skills also help you earn more as an insurance agent.
How do insurance agents get paid?
While some agents will get paid a salary, most of the income is earned from commissions on policies and premiums on renewals. If you sell more policies, you will earn more money. Most commissions will range from 5% to 10% of the value of the policy sold.
What type of benefits can I get as an insurance agent?
It’s common for insurance agents to get health insurance, life insurance, a flexible schedule, a 401(k) with matching and paid time off. Some employers will also provide vision insurance, disability insurance, license reimbursement, and the ability to work from home.
How many hours will I work per week as an insurance agent?
Most insurance agents work full-time. They will work a 9 to 5 schedule. Some will work on Saturdays, as well. It’s common for agents to work a 40-hour workweek. Sometimes, you will also work a little bit of overtime.
How long will it take me to become an insurance agent?
The training to become an insurance agent usually lasts around 50 hours, but can be as much as 75 hours. It will depend on your state and how many licenses you will be getting. Most licensed insurance agents will spend three to four weeks in training.
Do I need a college degree to become an insurance agent?
No, you do not need a degree. Insurance agents will need a high school education and the proper training for the license in your state. No degree is necessary for this career.
What are the common types of insurance sold by insurance agents?
Many insurance agents will sell multiple types of insurance including:
- Auto insurance
- Property and casualty insurance
- Health insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Life insurance
- Travel insurance
It’s common for agents to specialize in health insurance, life insurance, or property insurance. Some may work directly with individuals, while others may work with businesses. It’s also possible to sell all types of insurance as an agent.
Can I work from home as an insurance agent?
Yes, and COVID-19 has made it even easier. Many companies are allowing agents to work from home. Several independent agents also work from home. This is a pretty easy career to get into if you want to work from home.
Are insurance agents in high demand?
The demand for insurance agents is expected to grow by about 10% over the next decade. This is about twice the average demand for all professions.
If you want to go into a career with high earnings potential, becoming an insurance agent might be the right choice for you. This type of career will allow you to help others get the coverage they need for their house, car, life, health, and even travel.