How to Become an Insurance Agent


Career Path Guide

If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as an insurance agent:


• You are willing and able to prospect for potential new clients

• You are able develop key business relationships

• You enjoy meeting and helping people

• You have an interest in insurance products

• You have a general insurance license or are willing to obtain one

• You enjoy the idea of earning more money based on good sales performance


Below we've outlined what experience, education and traits you'll need to become insurance agent. We've also included helpful occupational information, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education and Experience Needed to Become an Insurance Agent

The specific education and work experience requirements for becoming an insurance agent vary by employer. Some employers might require that you have no more than a high school diploma (aside from industry-specific licensure training, covered below), although due to the competitiveness of the industry, having an undergraduate university degree can help increase your chances of finding a job with an insurance company or brokerage.


Employers also prefer to hire applicants for insurance agent jobs that have relevant sales, administration and customer service experience.





Insurance Agent Job Description

Insurance agents help insurance companies and brokerages generate new business by identifying potential new clients, which may be organizations or individuals.


The agent must then contact those potential new clients in order to asses their insurance needs, and advise them as to how insurance products can help protect them financially from various forms of loss, with the ultimate goal of selling the appropriate products to them.


They may sell the insurance products of a company that employs them, or they may act as the representative of a brokerage and deal with many insurance providers in order to find the most suitable insurance product for their clients.



Typical Job Duties

• Develop clientele by generating a list of prospects

• Contact prospects in order to discuss their needs relating insuring against loss

• Attend meetings and seminars in order to remain current in regards to general industry knowledge

• Build policies to meet the needs of clients

• May deal with multiple insurance providers in order to find clients the most suitable package

• May specialize in health, life, property, business or other forms of insurance advising and sales

• Keep in touch with clients in order to ensure their needs are being met

• Monitor insurance claims



Who Employs Insurance Agents?

Most insurance agents work for an insurance broker or a managing general agency (MGA), as most insurance is sold through these organizations. Insurance brokerages may be large organizations, franchised organizations, or they may be small independent brokerages.


Many are also directly employed by insurance providers and sell the products of that provider exclusively. Financial planning firms also employ insurance agents.



Licensing Needed to Become an Insurance Agent

Insurance brokerage is a regulated industry in both Canada and the United States. Because of this, insurance agents must follow certain regulatory guidelines, such as licensing, in order to legally sell insurance products.


In the United States, insurance sales are regulated by the individual states. Insurance sales agents must have a license to sell insurance in the state(s) in which they work.


In Canada, insurance agents must obtain a license to act as a General Insurance Agent under the Insurance Act. This licensing is administered by the Insurance Institute of Canada. Insurance agents must also meet the requirements of the provincial and territorial regulatory bodies.


Success Tip: A number of organizations in Canada and the United States offer supplementary insurance certification, which may not be required by employers, but will help increase the agent’s knowledge of the industry and certain types of policies and products, and make them more marketable to employers and potential clients. 





Insurance Agent Career: Insurance Product/Policy Sales

If you become an insurance agent, you may represent clients with a variety of insurance needs, and be employed by organizations that sell a wide variety of insurance products and policies. They may sell multiple types of insurance, or specialize in specific areas.


The types of products and policies insurance agents sell may include:


• Life insurance

• Health insurance

• Home insurance

• Automobile insurance

• Business insurance

• Personal liability insurance

• Professional liability insurance (such as errors and omissions insurance) 

• Disability insurance

• Group insurance

• Credit insurance (such as mortgage insurance)

• Travel insurance

• Specialty forms of insurance (such as pet insurance or sports insurance)



Skills Needed to Be Effective

To be effective in a career as an insurance agent, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• Able to develop key relationships and contacts

• Able to effectively handle customer inquires

• Able to persuade clients to purchase insurance products that suit their needs

• Knowledge of industry-specific computer software

• Proficient with Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint

• Excellent organization skills, and the ability to look after multiple clients

• Accurate typing skills with extreme attention to detail

• Excellent communication skills, including listening skills



Characteristics Needed to Become an Insurance Agent

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an insurance agent, you'll need to have certain personal traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as an insurance agent is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• Able to easily build strong interpersonal relationships

• Highly motivated to succeed in sales

• An excellent attitude towards customer service

• Willing to service immediate and on-going client needs

• Enjoy working independently

• Willing to travel frequently within or outside of city limits

• An enthusiastic attitude when faced with disappointing sales

• An interest in insurance products 



Career Flexibility for Insurance Agents

The insurance sales industry offers plenty of flexibility. Those who become insurance agents may choose to work in urban or rural locations, and may choose to work for a small or large brokerage or insurance provider, or become self-employed as the owner of an independent brokerage or franchise of a brokerage.


Becoming an insurance agent also means an opportunity to sell insurance products in areas in which you have a passion or personal interest. For example, as an insurance agent, you can choose to specialize in selling insurance products related to sports and travel.



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "insurance agent" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:




Typical Salary Level

The earnings of insurance agents can vary widely, largely due to the fact that it is fairly common for insurance agents to earn commission from sales activities, as well as performance bonuses. The earnings of insurance agents can also depend on other factors, such as:


• Their level of experience

• Their level of aptitude

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Insurance Agent Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Insurance Sales Agents occupational group is $50,600 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are below $27,500 and the top 10% are above $125,610 per year.


Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the "insurance agents and brokers" occupational group earn an average salary of $60,196. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, WorkBC states that those in the same occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $45,323. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (October 18, 2019).



Career Advancement Possibilities in This Profession

A career as an insurance agent is one that offers plenty of room for growth and development. Experienced, competent and successful insurance agents may move into a variety of positions, including supervisory and management positions in administration, training, underwriting, sales promotion or branch management.


Successful insurance agents that also have good business sense and entrepreneurial skills have option of becoming self-employed by becoming an independent financial broker.



Similar Occupations

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "insurance agent", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Financial Advisor

Insurance Underwriter

Marketing Coordinator


Sales Representative




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an insurance agent:


Occupations in Alberta: “Insurance Agent/Broker.” (December 14, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 18, 2019.

Explore Careers: “Insurance Agents and Brokers.” (December 12, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved October 18, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Sales: “Insurance Sales Agents.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 18, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Insurance Agent

Scholarships in our system are organized by field of study. The fields that are relevant to this profession are listed below on our "Relevant Areas of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those fields will be suitable, all of which can be found on our Scholarships page.



Relevant Areas of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an insurance agent. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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