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%|
|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.
Most insurance sales agents work full time.
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.
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:
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.
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 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 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.