Become an Authorized Insurance Agent

Become an Authorized Insurance Agent

Whether you're just out of college or looking for a career change, you may want to look into how to become an authorized insurance agent.

Why Become an Authorized Insurance Agent?

A career as an insurance agent can be both stimulating and satisfying. If you are considering a career in the insurance trade, you can find the specifics by contacting your state's Division of Insurance.

The insurance industry offers a variety of policy types and options, and specific qualifications apply to sell each. Learning how to become an authorized insurance agent can involve some research, but opens a career filled with opportunities to aid families, individuals, and businesses as you help them choose policies to meet specific insurance needs.

Career Appeal

A career as an insurance agent offers flexible hours, unlimited income potential and the rewarding experience of helping people.

Insurance Agent Training

Like many companies, the majority of insurance companies and agencies prefer to hire college graduates with a degree in business or economics. However, individuals with sales experience or a history of success in business may also be considered for a position as an insurance agent.

No matter what experience or educational background you have, if you are considering a position as an insurance agent you'll want to study up. Technical courses are offered online and at local colleges for those who want to learn about insurance. You may also want to take courses that enhance sales skills such as public speaking and sociology classes. In today's market, computer and software experience is also beneficial.

Qualifications to Become an Authorized Insurance Agent

An ideal insurance agent candidate will have an outgoing personality and excellent math skills. However, each state has their own set of requirements to become an authorized insurance agent. Once you are hired by an agency, you can anticipate taking your state's mandatory insurance license exam. Classes to aid in preparation for the exam are available to help make sure those planning to take the test will meet licensing requirements for their particular state.

Almost every state requires a license specifically for the state in which you plan to sell insurance. In most cases, applicants first complete a pre-licensing course and then pass a state exam to obtain a license. These exams test an applicant's knowledge of insurance fundamentals along with their understanding of insurance laws for the particular state in which they plan to sell insurance.

Once a license is received, most insurance agents are required to keep their credentials updated through continuing education. Tax changes and other federal regulations necessitate staying current so an agent can better meet the needs of their clients.

A variety of organizations offer professional designation programs. These programs certify an individual's expertise in specialties such as:

These voluntary programs help ensure clients and employers that an agent has a thorough understanding of their area of sales. Agents are usually required to complete a specified number of hours of continuing education to retain their designation.

Insurance Agent Pay and Hours

The way an insurance agent earns money depends upon the insurance company or agency. Payment methods include:

  • Salary
  • Salary plus commission
  • Straight commission
  • Payment dependent on work performed

As an insurance agent, your hours will be flexible but you may still be expected to work a few evenings and even weekends. In some cases, when you are working with new clients, you will need to adjust your hours to meet their needs.

If you do decide to become an insurance agent, know that legally you will be liable for mistakes you make. Because of this, independent agents must buy their own liability insurance.


Successful insurance sales agents are flexible (but disciplined), enthusiastic, hard-working, and confident. A capable agent possess good problem solving skills and communicates effectively -- inspiring customer confidence. Their disciplined work ethics help them take initiative to find new clients while working with little or no supervision. Those who show leadership skills have the potential to become a sales manager, and a select few may advance to an agency supervisory position. Some agents might even move on to establish an independent agency or brokerage firm.

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Become an Authorized Insurance Agent