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 a specific insurance company and only sells that company's products, while other agents work independently or for a broker, and sell products from multiple insurance companies.

Types of insurance include property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance. Many insurance agents also sell investment products, such as mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities.

Quick Facts About Insurance Agents

  • In 2017, they earned a median annual salary of $49,710 and hourly wages of $23.90.
  • Just over 386,320 people were employed as insurance agents in 2017.
  • 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 about 10 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations through 2026.

    A Day in an Insurance Agent's Life

    These are some typical duties found in online ads for insurance agent jobs advertised on

    • "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.

    The Soft Skills 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 a good rapport with potential clients, understand their needs and persuade them to give you their business.

      What 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

      • "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?

      • Holland Code: ECS (Enterprising, Conventional, Social)
      • MBTI Personality Types: ESTJ, ESFJ, ESTP, ESFP (Tieger, Paul D., Barron, Barbara, and Tieger, Kelly. (2014) Do What You Are. NY: Hatchette Book Group.)

      Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

      Description Median Annual Wage (2015) Minimum Required Education/Training
      Advertising Sales Representative Sells space in magazines and newspapers, and airtime on radio and television programs, to advertisers


      Bachelor's Degree Preferred; On-the-Job Training
      Sales Representative Sells products for a manufacturer or wholesaler $60,340 Bachelor's Degree Preferred
      Stock Trader Buys and sells stock for investors $63,780 Bachelor's Degree
      Retail Salesperson Sells products directly to consumers, usually in a store. $23,370 H.S. or Equivalency Diploma Preferred

      Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17.
      Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online.