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Insurance Agent

Insurance sales agents sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, disability, and long-term care. Property and casualty insurance agents sell policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, storms, and other events that can damage property.

Hours: Insurance sales agents working as captive agents are usually based in small offices, from which they contact clients and provide information on the policies they sell. Independent insurance agents, or brokers, may work in offices of varying sizes, depending on the size of the agency. However, much of their time may be spent outside their offices, traveling locally to meet with clients, close sales, or investigate claims. Agents usually determine their own hours of work and often schedule evening and weekend appointments for the convenience of clients. Some sales agents may meet with clients during business hours and then spend evenings doing paperwork and preparing presentations to prospective clients. Although most agents work a 40-hour week, some work 60 hours a week or longer.

Opportunities: Insurance sales agents are employed throughout the country, but most work in or near large urban centers. Some are employed in the headquarters of insurance companies, but the majority work out of local offices or independent agencies.

Pay: The median annual earnings of wage and salary insurance sales agents were $43,870 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,640 and $69,180. The lowest 10 percent had earnings of $24,600 or less, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,090. Median annual earnings in May 2006 in the two industries employing the largest number of insurance sales agents were $46,210 for insurance carriers, and $42,950 for agencies, brokerages, and other insurance related activities.

Training: Every sales agent involved in the solicitation, selling, or negotiation of insurance must have a State issued license. Licensure requirements vary by State but typically require some insurance-related coursework and the passing of several exams. Although some agents are hired right out of college, many are hired by insurance companies as customer service representatives and are later promoted to sales agent.

Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Insurance Sales Agents , on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos118.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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