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


Insurance sales agents typically do the following:

  • Contact potential clients to expand their own customer base
  • Interview prospective clients to get information about their financial situation and discuss existing coverage
  • Explain the features of various insurance policies
  • Analyze clients’ current policies and suggest additions or other changes
  • Customize insurance programs to suit individual clients
  • Handle policy sales and renewals
  • Assist clients with the insurance claims process
  • Maintain client records

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

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

Life insurance agents specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities, which require the policyholder to make a single deposit or a series of payments in exchange for regular disbursements over time.

Health and long-term care insurance agents sell policies that cover some or all of the costs of medical care and of assisted-living services for older adults. They also may sell insurance for dental care and for short- and long-term disability.

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

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.

Many agents market their services to create or expand their own client base. For example, they may make sales calls to people who are not current clients, often through referrals from current clients.

Insurance agents may work for either a single company or several companies.

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

Independent insurance agents may sell the policies of several companies to match their clients' needs with the company that offers the best rate and coverage.

Insurance brokers work for insurance brokerage firms. They represent their clients, rather than insurers, and may offer advice about competing companies' rates, coverage, and reputation. Like agents, brokers may be either captive or independent; however, because independent brokers are not associated with insurance companies, they must involve an insurer or insurance agent to complete a sale.

Work Environment

Insurance sales agents held about 523,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of insurance sales agents were as follows:

Insurance agencies and brokerages 61%
Self-employed workers 14
Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers           8
Direct health and medical insurance carriers 5

Most insurance sales agents work in office settings, although they may spend time traveling to meet with clients.

Work Schedules

Most insurance sales agents work full time.

Education and Training

Insurance sales agents typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation. However, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. Agents must be licensed in the states where they work.


A high school diploma is typically required for insurance sales agents. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as business.


Insurance sales agents learn many of their duties on the job, such as by shadowing an experienced agent. New agents learn about insurance products, the sales process, and how to interact with clients.

Employers often expect agents to stay abreast of changes in tax laws, government benefits programs, and other state and federal regulations that may affect clients’ insurance needs and the way in which agents conduct business. Agents may take continuing education to meet employer expectations.

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 topics such as insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.

Some insurance sales agents also sell securities and other financial products. To do so, they must become licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA's Series 6 exam is for agents who want to sell financial products, such as municipal fund securities, mutual funds, and variable annuities. Its 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 may give job candidates an advantage over other applicants. For details on specific designations, contact The Institutes and The American College of Financial Services.

Personality and Interests

Insurance sales agents typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an insurance sales agent, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Insurance sales agents should also possess the following specific qualities:

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.


The median annual wage for insurance sales agents was $49,840 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,510.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for insurance sales agents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Direct health and medical insurance carriers $70,570
Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers           57,990
Insurance agencies and brokerages 48,830

Wage data are from nonfarm establishments. The data exclude self-employed workers and owners and partners in unincorporated businesses. Tips, sales commissions, and bonuses for meeting production targets are included in wages; premium pay, such as overtime and shift differentials, is not.

Independent agents may be paid by commission only. Sales workers who are employees of an agency or an insurance carrier may be paid in one of three ways: salary only, salary plus commission, or salary plus bonus.

In general, commissions are the most common form of compensation, especially for experienced agents. The amount of the commission depends on the type and amount of insurance sold and on whether the transaction is a new policy or a renewal. When agents meet their sales goals or when an agency meets its profit goals, agents usually get bonuses. Some agents involved with financial planning receive a fee for their services rather than a commission.

Most insurance sales agents work full time.

Job Outlook

Employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 52,700 openings for insurance sales agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


Because the profitability of insurance companies depends on a steady stream of new customers, the demand for insurance sales agents is expected to continue. Employment growth will likely be strongest for independent sales agents as insurance companies rely more on brokerages and less on captive agents in an effort to control costs.

Many clients do their own research and purchase insurance online, which reduces demand for an insurance sales agent’s services. However, agents will still be needed to help clients understand their options and choose a policy that is right for them. Many customers lack the time or expertise to study the different types of insurance to decide what they need and so they will continue to rely on advice from insurance sales agents.

For More Information

For more information about insurance sales agents, visit

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents

Insurance Information Institute

For more information about insurance sales agents in the healthcare industry, visit

National Association of Health Underwriters

For more information about certifications, visit

The Institutes

The American College of Financial Services

For more information about securities licensure, visit

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Information about insurance sales agent licensure is available from state insurance department websites.


Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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