Insurance Agent: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Training Requirements

Research what it takes to become an insurance agent. Learn about job duties, employment prospects, education, and licensing requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Insurance Agent?

Insurance agents sell insurance plans to individuals and businesses. They help their clients choose insurance plans that suit their needs and also assess risk management when necessary. Insurance agents operate within a number of insurance fields, including property, life, and long-term care. More and more insurance agents are also providing clients with financial-planning services, especially for clients nearing retirement. Generally, insurance agents are employed by an insurance company or through an insurance brokerage.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an insurance agent.

Degree Required High school diploma or G.E.D., but employers may prefer a bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Insurance and Risk Management, Finance, or Business Administration
Licensure Required Required by state and insurance category
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% for all insurance sales agents*
Average Salary (2015) $64,790 for all insurance sales agents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Will My Job Duties Be as an Insurance Agent?

Your main responsibilities are to sell your employer's insurance policies to individuals and businesses, help clients choose suitable terms and coverage, and settle claims. Typically you concentrate on one or two sub-specialties of the insurance field, such as liability, property, disability, long-term care or life insurance. Specific duties include interviewing prospective clients about their risk management needs; explaining policy options to clients; customizing policies for clients; and calculating premiums. You also evaluate the condition and risk-worthiness of property, cultivate new clients and maintain policy records.

What Are My Employment Prospects?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, population trends have a large impact on the direction of the insurance industry ( For example, growth in the elderly population should increase demand for various forms of health and long-term care insurance; general population growth should drive sales of home and other property insurance; and the emergence of new businesses should drive sales of worker compensation and product liability insurance. However, a growing preference by insurance carriers to work through brokers and independent agents will somewhat inhibit your chances for employment.

About 466,100 people worked as insurance agents in 2014. Over the 2014-2024 decade, employment is projected to grow 9% to 509,500. As of May 2015, insurance agents earned an average annual salary of $64,790.

What Education Will I Need?

While many insurance agents have only a high school diploma or G.E.D., employers often prefer to hire those agents who have a college education as well. O*Net Online reports that about 33% of agents have a high school diploma, but 46% have a bachelor's degree ( Bachelor's degrees in insurance and risk management, finance or business administration are all acceptable to employers.

In an insurance and risk management bachelor's degree program you learn the distinct factors underlying risk evaluation in the major categories of insurance. Other areas of exploration include insurance accounting, insurance information processing, underwriting, claims and sales.

A bachelor's degree program in finance teaches you about the fundamental concepts in personal, business and public money management. Modeling, quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis are among the tools you learn to apply when evaluating spending decisions and investments. Elective courses allow you to explore such topics as international finance, investment strategy and taxation.

Bachelor's degree programs in business administration survey such core functions of business as accounting, marketing, human resources and operations, and also teach you how to manage them effectively. Some programs allow you to pursue an emphasis in risk management and insurance.

What License or Licenses Will I Need?

You will need a license in the state where you work for each category of insurance you sell. For example, if you sell property, casualty, health and life insurance you need four separate licenses. Most states require you to complete a pre-licensing course and pass a licensing exam testing your knowledge of state regulations and fundamental insurance concepts. Licenses typically need to be renewed every two years through completion of continuing education courses.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The skills and education necessary to be a successful insurance agent are also suitable to other similar careers. For examples, careers in other sales fields outside of insurance, like advertising or manufacturing, may be a natural fit for someone with sales skills or experience. Personal financial advisement is another career path, since this bachelor's-level job also relates to helping people better understand their finances and create life financial plans. Individuals may also be interested in a career in real estate, since real estate agents could benefit from a working knowing of home insurance.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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