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Insurance Agent: Career Information

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Job Description of Insurance Agents:

Insurance agents, who may be referred to as insurance sales agents, help clients choose insurance policies that suit their needs. Clients include individuals and families as well as businesses. Captive agents work for an insurance company, and only sell that company's products. Independent insurance agents, or brokers, represent several companies. Types of insurance include property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance. Many insurance agents also sell mutual funds, variable annuities and other securities.

Employment Facts for Insurance Agents:

Insurance agents held about 435,000 jobs in 2008.

Educational Requirements for Insurance Agents:

Employers prefer to hire insurance agents who have college degrees, particularly in business or economics. They might consider hiring a high school graduate who has proven sales ability.

Other Requirements for Insurance Agents:

Every state requires insurance agents to be licensed. They are required to obtain separate licenses to sell life and health insurance or property and casualty insurance. In most states, sales agents, in order to become licensed, must complete pre-licensing courses and pass state examinations.

Advancement of Insurance Agents:

An insurance agent with ability can advance into a management position, becoming, for example, a sales manager in a local office. Later on one can become an agency superintendent or land another executive position.

Job Outlook for Insurance Agents:

Employment of insurance agents is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2018. Job candidates who are multi-lingual and those who have a strong knowledge of relevant technical and legal terms will have the best chance of getting hired.

How Much Do Insurance Agents Earn?:

Wage and salary insurance agents earned median annual earnings of $45,500 in 2009. Independant insurance agents earn only a commission, while insurance agents who work for an agency or carrier receive either a salary only, a salary plus commission or a salary plus bonus. Insurance agents often receive benefits that include continuing education, training to help with licensing requirements, office space and clerical support.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much insurance agents currently earn in your city.

A Day in an Insurance Agent's Life:

On a typical day an insurance agent might perform some of the following duties:

  • prepare reports and maintain records;
  • seek out new clients;
  • in the event of a loss, help policyholders settle insurance claims;
  • some may also offer their clients comprehensive financial planning services, such as retirement planning, estate planning, or assistance in setting up pension plans for businesses;

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Insurance Sales Agents, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos118.htm (visited November 29, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Insurance Sales Agents, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/41-3021.00 (visited November 29, 2010).

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