Insurance sales agents operate as independent brokers or work for insurance companies selling life, auto, home and related insurance coverage to consumers. Typically, insurance sales agents must have high school diplomas and be licensed in the state in which they sell insurance. Some employers may require a bachelor's degree. Continuing education and training may also be necessary.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for this field for the years 2014-2024 is 9% and the median annual wage for insurance sales agents in May 2015 was $48,200.
Insurance Sales Agent Job Requirements
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a high school diploma is usually necessary for insurance sales agents. However, some companies may prefer college graduates. Prospective agents may take classes in economics, business or finance, to understand the principles of selling insurance as a product. They may also take courses to help them become better salespeople, such as psychology. Undergraduate programs that specifically study insurance and risk management are available through colleges and universities. These programs aim to teach students the basic principles of risk management through coursework in insurance theory and security analysis.
Job Description for an Insurance Sales Agent
Insurance sales agents act as intermediaries between insurance companies and insurance buyers, including individuals and business. They advise customers on the insurance policies that best suit their needs. Sales agents may specialize in one type of insurance coverage, such as health, property, life and auto, or they may be well versed in several forms of insurance coverage.
Job Duties for an Insurance Sales Agent
The primary task of an insurance sales agent is selling his or her product to interested parties. To accomplish this task, insurance agents must be active in seeking out new clients and explaining types of coverage they may find helpful. In order to sell their product they must also understand it by keeping abreast of the rates and policies that various insurers offer.
Additionally, insurance sales must fill-out and submit applications, issue quotes, maintain client records and prepare reports. In the event of a claim, agents help their customers file and receive financial compensation for their loss.
Licensing and Certification
In order to sell insurance, sales agents must obtain a license from the state in which they operate. The requirements vary by state, but typically include completing pre-licensing coursework and passing a state-sanctioned exam. States also often require continuing education units to be completed every few years to keep insurance sales agents up-to-date on insurance laws and coverage.
The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research also offers several types of industry-recognized certification designations that insurance sales agents may earn to signify their expertise in the field. For instance, agents can attend a CIC (Certified Insurance Counselors) program that covers essential topics in property, casualty and health insurance, or a CSRM (Certified School Risk Managers) program that teaches the core doctrines of risk management inherent in all insurance deals. All programs require some coursework and the passing of an examination to achieve certification.
In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reported 466,100 insurance sales agents working in the United States. Employment opportunities within the field are expected to increase by 9% over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS. The BLS also predicts 43,500 insurance sale agent jobs will be added over that time period.
A career as an insurance sales agent requires basic education, like a high school diploma or a college degree in business or a related field. And in this field that has projected employment growth for at least the next decade, states require agents to obtain a license for the state in which he or she will plan to sell insurance.