How to Become an Insurance Broker in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for insurance brokers. Get the facts about licensure, education requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
An insurance broker assists clients in finding policies that suit their needs. A profile of this career is summarized in the table below.
|Education Required||High school diploma; bachelor's degree is preferred|
|Education Field of Study||Business, finance, economics, insurance|
|Key Skills||Customer service, interpersonal, initiative, persuasion|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure is required to sell insurance policies in the state in which the broker works; certification is voluntary|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||10% (for all insurance sales agents)*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$48,210 (for all insurance sales agents)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is an Insurance Broker?
Insurance brokers are customer representatives who help individuals and businesses find insurance policies that best meet the needs of their customers. They sell life, health and property insurance, but not as employees of any particular insurance company. Brokers must be licensed in specific insurance areas before they're permitted to sell policies. Most earn 4-year degrees.
To be a successful broker, you need to be familiar with the entire insurance market. Your market competition will include captive agents, who work for one company, and independent agents, who work for several. Successful brokers often have a breadth of industry knowledge greater than that of captive and independent agents. Your duties will include researching policies, providing advice on finance and risk management, preparing reports, maintaining records and cultivating new clients.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Although it isn't required, a bachelor's degree on your resume will increase your chances of gaining employment with an insurance brokerage firm. Degree programs in business administration or economics provide you with the necessary background in finance, accounting, business law and marketing. Other potentially helpful courses include psychology, sociology, public speaking and communications.
You could also consider earning a bachelor's degree in insurance and risk management. These aren't as widely available as business administration or economics programs. In addition to developing fundamental business skills, they devote whole courses to explaining the principles and concepts underlying life, health and property insurance.
Step 2: Work an Internship
Some bachelor's degree programs in insurance and risk management provide internship opportunities with insurance firms. During an internship, you'll observe and participate in the internal operations of the firm. After it ends, you may have to submit a written report describing the experience while the employer provides a written evaluation to your instructor. If an internship isn't available at your school, you could also try to arrange your own.
Step 3: Obtain a State Broker's License
You need a broker's license from each state in which you plan to work. Licenses are available for life, personal, property and casualty insurance. Broker's licenses and agent's licenses are different, although as a broker, you can still hold an agent's license and work for companies as an agent. Some states are moving away from the two types of licenses and requiring both agents and brokers to obtain a producer's license. Producer is an insurance industry term for both agents and brokers. If you pass the series 6 or series 7 exams offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, you can obtain certification and a license to sell various financial products.
Step 4: Find a Job
At a brokerage firm, you can expect to start out either at the customer service desk or as a broker's assistant. As you gain familiarity with the industry and your employer's business practices, you can become a customer service rep (processes insurance transactions under supervision), personal lines rep (provides detailed coverage for personal belongings and homes) and commercial line rep (commercial and business insurance). If you demonstrate initiative, competence and leadership, positions as a department supervisor, producer or manager of a branch office could open up.
Step 5: Obtain Certification in an Area of Expertise
For professional development and career advancement, consider certification in an area of insurance where you've acquired expertise. The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research offers a number of voluntary certifications for independent agents or brokers. These include the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), the Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) and the Certified Risk Manager (CRM).
If you're interested in a financial planning credential, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Obtaining a CFP requires three years of financial planning experience and the passage of an exam covering such areas as general planning principals, risk management, benefits planning, tax planning and retirement planning.
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