If you've been exploring careers in the insurance industry, you may have considered work as an insurance broker or insurance agent. The Insurance Information Institute reports 2,467,000 people were employed in the insurance industry in 2014 and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a high job growth rate of 9% for insurance sales agents through 2024. Working as an insurance broker or agent can be personally and financially rewarding. You’ll also enjoy many opportunities for growth and diversification within the industry.
Here’s a quick overview of the career path of an insurance broker or insurance agent:
As long as you are prepared to pass your licensure exam, you will at least a high school diploma to enter this business. Some employers require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in business, liberal arts, or a related field. Having a bachelor’s degree can make it easier to continue with your educational pursuits, such as getting a master’s degree. Business and managerial knowledge is valuable in this industry so any formal education will set a solid foundation for career success.
Training to Be an Insurance Agent
Almost all employers, whether they are independent brokerage firms or corporate organizations, have their own training program to teach insider sales knowledge and one-on-one training with seasoned agents. The initial training program can last anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on the nature of the position. As employees grow in their career, they must continue professional education to learn about different financial products, innovative sales strategies, and software programs so they stay relevant in the industry.
Insurance Agent Licensing Requirements
Specific licensing requirements for insurance agents and brokers vary from state to state but all states require insurance agents and brokers to be licensed before they can sell any type of insurance to the public. You will obtain a license by completing a set of courses and passing the state exam.
Insurance Agent Certification
You may have heard about insurance agent certifications when exploring insurance careers. Certification is optional and is centered on selling securities and other financial products. Agents must pass the Series 6 (to sell mutual funds and variable annuities) or Series 7 exam (to sell general securities) administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Some organizations also offer specialty certifications which an agent can pursue as continuing education credit or to improve their employability.
In addition to on-the-job training, insurance agents and brokers acquire a wealth of experience throughout their careers and can transfer many skills learned from one employer to another. Staying current on sales trends and strategies, being able to learn about financial products quickly, and developing strong communication skills are the keys to success in this growing industry. All of these skills can be developed on the job and as an agent moves upward in his or her career, either to a managerial role where they train and oversee a group of sales agents, or to specialize in a particular type of insurance or financial product.