Insurance Agent or Broker
How to Become an

Insurance Agent or Broker

The complete career guide to be an Insurance Agent or Broker: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $64,790
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 9.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Deal Making
    Career Attribute

Insurance agents and brokers work with individuals and groups who need to purchase insurance. Agents represent one or more insurance companies, where brokers work for insurance purchasers and are not directly affiliated with any insurer. Both assist with the decision-making and application processes.


What is an Insurance Agent or Broker?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in insurance agent or broker roles:

  • Market services and cold-call individuals to expand leads for potential buyers
  • Negotiate the enrollment of one or more individuals into property and casualty, health, life, or supplementary insurance plans
  • Meet with potential buyers to determine needs and budget
  • Review a variety of insurance plans to find those that provide the best coverage at a price the buyer can afford
  • Assist buyers with the application process for securing new insurance coverage

A Day in the Life

Insurance agents and brokers work with individuals and groups who need insurance coverage to help them find, apply for, and get approved for new coverage. While the responsibilities of an agent and broker are identical, there is a difference between the two roles. Agents work on behalf of insurance companies. They have contracts with certain providers and seek to sell plans from those providers to individuals and groups. Brokers, on the other hand, are not affiliated with any specific insurance provider, seeking to enroll clients in the best possible plan regardless of which company offers it.

Insurance agents and brokers work to sell many different types of insurance policies. They may sell property and casualty insurance to individuals, allowing individuals to protect their personal property from loss incurred by fire, theft, or natural disasters. Others sell health, life, and supplementary coverage policies to both individuals and groups. Some agents and brokers focus specifically on group sales and work primarily with companies seeking plans for their employer-provided coverage plans.

Agents and brokers make the bulk of their income—if not all their income—from commissions made on policies sold. They make earn a commission consisting of a percentage of the annual premiums to be paid on sold policies, or they may earn a commission each month that the policy premium is paid. Policies may last for a year, or they may last until specifically canceled. For those that expire annually, the agent or broker revisits before the expiration to help the insured find and enroll in a new plan.

Typical Work Schedule

Most insurance agents work full-time schedules, and most choose their own schedules rather than working any set hours each week. They may need to be available to work with employers during normal business hours, and they may also need to be available in evenings and on weekends to work with individuals who need to meet outside of normal business hours because of work conflicts.

Projected Job Growth

In order to remain profitable, insurance providers must have a constant influx of new customers. For this reason, demand for insurance agents and brokers is expected to increase in the coming decade as more insurance providers seek to expand their coverage to new markets and customers.

Typical Employers

Insurance agents and brokers may work for insurance agencies and brokerages as salespeople, may be self-employed, or may work directly for one of the major U.S. insurance providers. Major providers include United Healthcare, Aetna, Anthem, State Farm, and Geico, among many others.


How To Become an Insurance Agent or Broker

For many insurance agents and brokers, a high school diploma is a sufficient level of education for finding work in the field. However, all states require insurance agents and brokers to be licensed to sell insurance. There is no general licensing for all insurance policies, so agents and brokers must earn separate licenses to sell health/life insurance and property/casualty insurance. Additionally, agents and brokers who sell in multiple states must be licensed to sell in each of those states.

Becoming licensed to sell insurance requires passing a detailed examination. Aspiring insurance agents and brokers can take courses in classrooms or online to learn the material needed to pass the exam, or they can purchase books and guides and engage in self-study to pass the exam. There is no correct way to study for the exam; it really just depends on your preferred learning style. The exams are computer-based and must be taken in person at a testing facility in the state where licensure is being sought.

While no formal postsecondary education is required to become an insurance agent or broker, many aspiring agents and brokers find that studying business in college as part of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program is beneficial. Because agents and brokers must be able to sell effectively to earn a living in the role, college courses in psychology, public speaking, and marketing can provide helpful skills that can be used when selling insurance policies. Most agents and brokers also receive training on the job.


Insurance Agent or Broker Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$34,220

Average

$64,790

High Range

$122,590

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$16/hr

Average

$31/hr

High Range

$59/hr

How do Insurance Agent or Broker salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Insurance Agent or Broker's can make an average annual salary of $64,790, or $31 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $34,220 or $16 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #232 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Highest Education Among Insurance Agent or Brokers

  • 1.7%   Doctorate
  • 6.3%   Masters
  • 40.1%   Bachelors
  • 9.3%   Associates
  • 26.3%   College
  • 15.3%   High School
  • 1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

466,100

2024 Est. Jobs

509,500

Job Growth Rate

9.3%

Est. New Jobs

43,400

How does Insurance Agent or Broker job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 43,400 jobs for a total of 509,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #227 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Insurance Agent or Brokers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Insurance agencies and brokerages 265,000 33,900 34%
Self-employed workers 65,900 4,500 5%
Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers 45,200 -3,300 -3%

Want To Be an Insurance Agent or Broker? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →