Should I Become a Health Insurance Agent?
Health insurance agents sell health-related products and insurance to their clients. They typically look for clients, present them with health insurance options that meet their needs and, if necessary, assist with getting claims settled. Working weekends and evenings might be necessary to meet clients' scheduling needs.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; bachelor's degree increasingly common|
|Degree Field||Insurance, business, finance or related field|
|Licensure and Certification||State license required; voluntary professional certification available|
|Key Skills||Strong customer-service and analytical skills, as well as the ability to handle rejection and take initiative; written and verbal communication, time-management, critical-thinking and decision-making skills|
|Salary (2014)||$47,860 (median for insurance sales agents)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net
Step One: Acquire a College Education
Although a health insurance agent who can show a proven sales ability may be hired with just a high school or general equivalency diploma, many employers prefer their health insurance agents to possess a college degree. A bachelor's degree with a major in finance, economics or business is suitable. Many colleges and universities have courses in insurance, and a few schools offer majors or minors in insurance. Some coursework that can assist health insurance agents with their career include sociology, communication, psychology, economics, business administration, accounting and finance.
Step Two: Obtain State Licensure
Every state requires insurance agents to be licensed, and separate licenses are issued for different types of insurance. Most states require a health insurance agent to complete pre-licensing courses prior to taking licensing exams. However, some states may waive pre-licensing course requirements for those who hold a college degree.
- Contact the state licensing department. Since every state's laws are different, it's important that aspiring insurance agents understand the requirements for licensure. The state licensing commission can provide information on education and exam requirements, including education waivers.
- Investigate continuing education requirements. State laws often require agents to complete continuing education courses as a condition of license renewal.
- Verify that a pre-licensing course is approved by the state licensing commission. Proprietary schools often offer pre-licensing courses. People who are interested in becoming insurance agents should verify that the course offered by a particular school has approval by the licensing board in the state where they wish to earn a license and sell insurance.
Step Three: Complete On-the-Job Training
Upon being hired, a new health insurance agent typically works under an experienced agent for an extended amount of time. This mentor system allows new agents to acquire the skills and practice necessary to be successful. By watching an experienced worker, new health insurance agents learn how to communicate with clients, write insurance policies and conduct business appropriately.
Health insurance agents need to keep themselves updated on important issues for insurance sales even after they complete the initial job training. Various changes in government programs, regulations and laws can occur and impact policies.
- Take advantage of learning opportunities. In addition to shadowing experienced agents, new agents should ask about educational opportunities or other resources.
- Consider earning professional certification. While certification isn't always necessary, it's highly recommended agents acquire a professional designation in health insurance to demonstrate their skills and proficiency, giving them an advantage in seeking advanced and specialized positions. The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research offers certifications and courses for health insurance agents, including the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation.
- Continuing learning about the insurance industry. As with state licensure, completing approved continuing education courses is usually required to maintain professional certification. This can also help agents stay abreast with the latest trends in the field.