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Become An Agent

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Working As An Agent

  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $46,524

    Average Salary

What Does An Agent Do

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.

Duties

Insurance sales agents typically do the following:

  • Call potential clients in order to expand their own customer base
  • Interview prospective clients to get information about their financial resources and discuss existing coverage
  • Explain the features of various policies
  • Analyze clients’ current insurance policies and suggest additions or other changes
  • Customize insurance programs to suit individual clients
  • Handle policy renewals
  • Maintain electronic and paper records

Insurance sales agents commonly sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, and long-term care insurance.

Property and casualty insurance agents sell policies that protect people and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance also covers workers’ compensation claims, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.

Life insurance agents specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that promise a retirement income.

Health and long-term care insurance agents sell policies that cover the costs of medical care and assisted-living services in old age. They also may sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance.

Agents may specialize in any one of these products or function as generalists providing multiple products.

An increasing number of insurance sales agents offer their clients—especially those approaching retirement—comprehensive financial-planning services. Such services include retirement planning, estate planning, and help in setting up pension plans for businesses. In addition to offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products. For more information on agents who sell financial products, see the profile on securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents.

Many agents spend a lot of time marketing their services and creating their own base of clients. They do this in a variety of ways, including making “cold” sales calls to people who are not current clients.

Potential clients often use comparison shopping tools online to learn about different policies and obtain information from insurance companies. Clients can either purchase a policy directly from the website or contact the company to speak with a sales agent.

Insurance agents also find new clients through referrals by current clients. Keeping clients happy so that they recommend the agent to others is a key to success for insurance sales agents.

Insurance agents may work for a single insurance company or an insurance brokerage.

Captive agents are insurance sales agents who work exclusively for one insurance company. They can only sell policies provided by the company that employs them.

Independent insurance agents work for insurance brokerages, selling the policies of several companies. They match insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage.

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How To Become An Agent

Although most employers require agents to have a high school diploma, many agents have a bachelor’s degree. Agents must be licensed in the states where they work.

Education

A high school diploma is the typical requirement for insurance sales agents, although a bachelor’s degree can improve one’s job prospects. Public-speaking classes can be useful in improving sales techniques, and often agents will have taken courses in business, finance, or economics. Business knowledge is also helpful for sales agents hoping to advance to a managerial position.

Training

Insurance sales agents learn many of their job duties on the job from other agents. Many employers have new agents shadow an experienced agent. This practice allows the new agent to learn how to conduct the company’s business and to understand how the agency interacts with clients.

Employers also are increasingly placing greater emphasis on continuing professional education as the variety of financial products sold by insurance sales agents grows. Changes in tax laws, government benefits programs, and other state and federal regulations can affect the insurance needs of clients and the way in which agents conduct business. Agents can enhance their selling skills and broaden their knowledge of insurance and other financial services by taking courses at colleges and universities or by attending conferences and seminars sponsored by insurance organizations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Insurance sales agents must have a license in the states where they work. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance. In most states, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified courses and who pass state exams covering insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws. Most state licensing authorities also require agents to take continuing education courses focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.

As the demand for financial-planning services increases, many agents also choose to get licensed and certified to sell securities and other financial products. Licensing and certification requires substantial study time to pass an additional exam—either the Series 6 or Series 7 licensing exam, both of which are administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Series 6 exam is for agents who want to sell only mutual funds and variable annuities. The Series 7 exam is the main FINRA series license, which qualifies agents as general securities sales representatives.

A number of organizations offer certifications that show an agent’s expertise in insurance specialties. These certifications are not required for employment, but they can give job candidates an advantage over other applicants. Certifications also can be a source of continuing education credit. For details on specific designations, contact The Institutes and The American College of Financial Services.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Insurance sales agents must evaluate the characteristics of each client to determine the appropriate insurance policy.

Communication skills. Insurance sales agents must be able to communicate effectively with customers by listening to their requests and suggesting suitable policies.

Initiative. Insurance sales agents need to actively seek out new customers to maintain a flow of commissions.

Self-confidence. Insurance sales agents should be confident when making “cold” calls (calls to prospective customers who have not been contacted before). They must speak clearly and persuasively and maintain their composure if rejected.

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Do you work as an Agent?

Agent Jobs

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Agent Career Paths

Agent
Operations Manager Plant Manager General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Service Technician Service Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Delivery Driver Operations Manager
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Service Representative Home Health Aid Call Center Representative
Call Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager General Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Software Engineer Product Manager
District Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager Senior Product Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Representative Supervisor Assistant Manager
Office Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Operations Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Owner Driver Dispatcher
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Specialist Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Operations Manager Account Executive
Relationship Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Agent Branch Manager Account Manager
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Consultant Product Manager
Sales And Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Representative Specialist Account Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Account Manager
Senior Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Owner Maintenance Technician Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Service Technician General Manager
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Agent?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Lead Agent 3.3 years
Career Agent 2.9 years
Front Line Agent 2.5 years
Licensed Agent 2.4 years
Field Agent 2.3 years
Direct Sales Agent 2.3 years
Finance Agent 2.1 years
Customer Agent 2.0 years
Sales Agent 2.0 years
Agent Assistant 2.0 years
Agent 2.0 years
Service Agent 1.9 years
Support Agent 1.9 years
Home Agent 1.7 years
Contact Agent 1.4 years
Call Center Agent 1.3 years
Phone Agent 1.2 years
Call Agent 1.0 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 13.3%
Manager 5.4%
Internship 4.6%
Teller 4.6%
Server 3.1%
Supervisor 2.9%
Owner 2.5%
Assistant 2.4%
Volunteer 2.1%
Top Employers After
Cashier 8.3%
Manager 6.3%
Owner 4.5%
Supervisor 4.3%
Teller 4.1%
Server 3.1%
Associate 2.8%
Internship 2.8%
Specialist 2.7%

Do you work as an Agent?

Agent Demographics

Gender

Female

50.2%

Male

47.4%

Unknown

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

60.6%

Hispanic or Latino

17.3%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.2%

French

10.0%

German

3.3%

Portuguese

3.2%

Chinese

2.8%

Arabic

2.7%

Mandarin

2.5%

Italian

2.5%

Japanese

2.0%

Russian

1.8%

Korean

1.3%

Hindi

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Cantonese

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Carrier

0.6%

Croatian

0.5%

Dutch

0.4%

Greek

0.4%

Dakota

0.4%
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Agent Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

26.2%

Liberty University

6.0%

Ashford University

5.6%

Kaplan University

5.2%

Strayer University

5.0%

Miami Dade College

4.3%

Weber State University

4.0%

American InterContinental University

3.9%

Arizona State University

3.7%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.6%

Florida International University

3.5%

Utah State University

3.4%

University of Memphis

3.4%

Utah Valley University

3.3%

Salt Lake Community College

3.3%

Georgia State University

3.2%

Michigan State University

3.1%

West Virginia University

3.1%

Mississippi State University

3.1%

Middle Tennessee State University

3.1%
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Majors

Business

30.8%

Criminal Justice

7.9%

Psychology

5.6%

Accounting

5.2%

Communication

4.7%

Management

4.2%

General Studies

4.2%

Marketing

3.9%

Finance

3.7%

Computer Science

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.6%

Education

3.1%

Nursing

3.0%

Medical Assisting Services

2.9%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Political Science

2.5%

English

2.3%

Information Technology

2.2%

Computer Information Systems

2.1%

Insurance

1.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

36.7%

Other

31.9%

Associate

13.3%

Masters

9.7%

Certificate

4.6%

Diploma

1.6%

Doctorate

1.1%

License

1.0%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Agent Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Photography Agent JS Reps Corp New York, NY Jan 11, 2013 $125,000
Photography Agent JS Reps Corp New York, NY Feb 07, 2011 $95,320
Photography Agent JS Reps Corp. New York, NY Jan 15, 2011 $95,320
Agent-Womensboard L.A. Models, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Jan 18, 2016 $75,000
Agent Hear We Go Again Inc. Los Angeles, CA Feb 10, 2015 $75,000
Multi Lingual Agent O.G. Realty LLC Berwyn, IL Oct 01, 2011 $72,000
Multi Lingual Agent OG Realty Berwyn, IL Oct 01, 2011 $72,000
Opex Lean Change Agent Ingersoll Rand Company Pueblo, CO Sep 01, 2015 $68,250
Opex Lean Change Agent Ingersoll Rand Company Pueblo, CO Jan 09, 2015 $68,250
Global Sourcing Agent Teknor Apex Pawtucket, RI Aug 01, 2013 $68,000
Global Sourcing Agent Teknor Apex Pawtucket, RI Sep 01, 2010 $68,000
Agent Creative Artists Agency Los Angeles, CA Aug 10, 2015 $65,000
Success Agent Salesforce.Com Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 11, 2016 $61,235
Sourcing Agent 7 Division, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 03, 2016 $55,453
Agent William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC Beverly Hills, CA Jan 09, 2016 $55,000
Baseball Agent All Bases Covered SM LLC Scottsdale, AZ Sep 20, 2016 $55,000
Agent William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC Beverly Hills, CA Aug 04, 2010 $55,000
User Experience Agent Aquent LLC Dallas, TX Sep 19, 2010 $53,269 -
$85,000
Photo Agent Norma Jean Markus New York, NY May 15, 2013 $52,175 -
$62,610
Agent/Producer Creative Asset Inc. New York, NY May 01, 2011 $51,600
Art and Photography Agent The Collective Shift LLC New York, NY Sep 02, 2015 $50,000 -
$55,000
Art and Photography Agent The Collective Shift LLC New York, NY Sep 10, 2015 $50,000 -
$55,000
Agent University of Maryland College Park Salisbury, MD Aug 01, 2012 $48,250
Agent University of Maryland College Park Salisbury, MD Sep 01, 2012 $48,250
Sourcing Agent Eastern Edge Inc. North Bergen, NJ Sep 27, 2013 $48,147
Sourcing Agent Eastern Edge Inc. North Bergen, NJ Sep 21, 2013 $48,147
Photographers Agent Norma Jean Markus New York, NY May 15, 2013 $48,001
Photographic Agent Total Management, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $47,000

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Top Skills for An Agent

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  1. Insurance Products
  2. Phone Calls
  3. Financial Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Offered advice to individuals and corporate clients in selecting appropriate insurance products.
  • Assisted as interim call center supervisor, monitored call center representative phone calls and provided necessary performance feedback.
  • Researched and provided financial services ranging from health/disability/life insurance to financial packages such as mutual funds and stock options.
  • Prospected and solicited new clients via cold calls, company-generated list and prospecting from personally established lists of clients and associates.
  • Licensed Life Insurance Producer - Licensed Health Insurance Producer

How Would You Rate Working As an Agent?

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