Insurance brokers must have at least a high school diploma or GED for licensure, though most employers look for those with 4-year bachelor's degrees in business, economics or finance. These programs can help would-be brokers learn valuable skills related to brokerage, customer service and insurance sales. On-the-job training programs are common with entry-level employment, though many employers prefer to hire insurance brokers with at least three years of experience in an insurance-related position.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
A bachelor's degree in business administration provides a well-rounded curriculum that goes beyond the scope of insurance and risk management. Students learn how businesses, economies and currencies operate, as well as examining national and global business trends. Programs require four years of study and typically include courses on:
- Business law
- Foundations of business operation
- Marketing and advertising
- Business ethics
- Management and leadership concepts
- Organizational behavior
Bachelor of Science in Finance
Students in a finance bachelor's degree program learn accounting methods, principles of economics and financial planning strategies. This degree program focuses on financial management and prepares students to work with financial, investment and insurance portfolios. Students learn about various financial institutions and regulations through courses on:
- Financial management
- Financial accounting
- Cost estimation
- Corporate finance
Insurance brokers are typically required to have 3-5 years of experience, though some employers offer on-the-job training programs for newly graduated insurance brokers with no professional experience. In these training programs, new insurance brokers work under the supervision of an experienced insurance broker. Many insurance brokers begin their careers as sales agents in other industries. Once they have acquired sufficient experience and developed strong sales skills and knowledge of insurance and risk management, they pursue careers as insurance brokers. Employers who do not offer on-the-job training programs often prefer to hire insurance brokers with experience relevant to the type of insurance the employer deals. This can include life insurance or property and casualty insurance sales.
Licenses and Certifications
Insurance brokers and sales agents must be licensed in their state of employment. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most insurance brokers are required to have licensure based on their services. Brokers who sell life and health insurance coverage must have life insurance licensure, and those who provide property and casualty insurance coverage must obtain property and casualty insurance licensure. Personal lines licensure is required for brokers who only sell homeowner and automobile insurance plans. In most states, insurance brokers must take state-approved insurance training courses and pass an exam. Courses and exams cover federal insurance regulations and various topics in insurances sales.
The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research (NAIER) offers voluntary certification for insurance brokers who sell property and casualty, life, health, and fire insurance. The organization offers certification for insurance service representatives, insurance counselors and risk management professionals. To gain certification, brokers must take NAIER insurance courses and pass a comprehensive exam. Insurance brokers must participate in continuing education programs in order to remain certified.
Workshops and Seminars
Employers typically hold workshops for newly hired insurance brokers to become familiar with the employer's insurance sales policies and operational procedures. Some business or finance degree programs may also sponsor risk management and insurance workshops as a supplement to the program's traditional curriculum.
Several organizations, including the NAIER and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA), offer workshops for experienced and beginning insurance brokers. These organizations offer online training courses and seminars that discuss insurances sales tactics, client relationships and legal aspects of insurance sales.
Additional Professional Development
Insurance brokers can find professional development opportunities with the NAIER and IIABA. The NAIER offers a number of publications on the industry, including Resources magazine and more than ten insurance research books. The IIABA publishes Independent Agent, a magazine that addresses trends and topics in insurances sales. This organization also offers a virtual university that contains hundreds of industry articles, various paperwork forms and continuing education resources for insurance brokers. Most insurance brokers continue to learn more about insurance and risk management through state-approved continuing education programs, which are required to maintain licensure.
Aspiring insurance brokers can seek bachelor's degree programs to better their chances at finding employment in the field, but some firms require additional related experience. New insurance brokers also need to attain state licensure and may need to undergo training workshops.