Life Insurance Agent
How to Become a

Life Insurance Agent

The complete career guide to be a Life Insurance Agent: 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

Life insurance agents work with individuals and groups who are seeking either health or life insurance coverage. Often, life insurance is as sold as an add-on benefit with health insurance coverage, though it may be sold individually as well. Life insurance agents help individuals select and enroll in these benefits.

Recommended Schools

What is a Life Insurance Agent?

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

  • Market services and cold-call individuals to expand leads for potential buyers
  • Negotiate the enrollment of one or more individuals into life and/or health insurance plans
  • Meet with potential buyers to determine needs and budget
  • Review a variety of life 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 life insurance coverage

A Day in the Life

Unless they work directly for a life insurance provider, few life insurance agents specialize solely in selling life insurance plans. The process of becoming licensed to sell life insurance is the same as the process of becoming licensed to sell health insurance, so many life insurance agents specialize in selling life, health, and supplementary insurance plans. Additionally, some specialize in financial planning, selling life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) plans, and annuities.

Annuities are a specialized product sold by life insurance companies that offers incremental payments to buyers who’ve invested a lump-sum up front. Annuities can begin paying out payments as soon as they’re purchased, or they can payout after a certain number of years or upon death. Annuities are often purchased as an investment, as retirement plans, or as life insurance at times when an individual is still supporting children. For this reason, many life insurance agents also specialize in financial planning.

Life insurance agents earn the bulk of their income—if not all of their income—off of sales of policies, so a huge part of their job is recruiting new buyers and convincing buyers to purchase and/or renew their benefits. When working with a new buyer, the life insurance agent works to understand the budget and needs of the client, and then recommends appropriate plans from one or multiple insurance companies. The agent also helps the buyer apply for and enroll in coverage, or to purchase annuities.

Typical Work Schedule

Most life 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 clients during both normal business hours and on evenings/weekends.

Projected Job Growth

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

Typical Employers

Life insurance agents may work for insurance agencies as salespeople, for financial planning businesses, as self-employed sellers, or directly for one of the major U.S. life insurance providers: MetLife, Northwestern Mutual, New York Life, Prudential, or Lincoln National.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Life Insurance Agent

A high school diploma may be a sufficient level of education for aspiring life insurance agents that want to specialize in selling health or life insurance for agencies, as an independent contractor, or for health insurance companies. However, for those that want to sell annuities and life insurance plans in financial planning companies, a bachelor’s degree is usually required. Common majors for this role include finance, accounting, or business administration.

In addition to earning a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree, all life insurance agents must be licensed to sell health and life insurance in their state. Becoming licensed to sell insurance requires passing a detailed examination. The exams are computer-based and must be taken in person at a testing facility in the state where licensure is being sought. Additionally, life insurance agents who sell in multiple states must be licensed to sell plans in each of those states.

Even for life insurance agents who do not go into the financial planning industry, college coursework can be beneficial. Succeeding as a life insurance agent requires refined sales skills and techniques. While most are trained in these techniques on the job, college courses in public speaking, psychology, finance, and business administration can be beneficial. This is especially true if you plan to operate as an independent contractor because your job will be considered a small business.

Life Insurance Agent 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




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Life Insurance Agent salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Life Insurance Agent'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 Life Insurance Agents

  • 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


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Life Insurance Agent 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 Life Insurance Agents

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%

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