Insurance brokers, also known as insurance sales agents, must get licensed in the states where they work. A specific license is required to sell life and health insurance, separate from property and casualty insurance. Each state determines its own requirements, but most expect applicants to complete academic coursework and pass state tests. Licensed brokers must also take continuing education courses to stay current on state laws and industry standards.
Get your high school diploma and consider taking college courses related to the insurance industry. Some insurance companies only require their brokers to have a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while others prefer to hire job candidates who have a bachelor's degree in business, finance or a related field. Take public speaking courses in high school or college to develop strong communication skills so you can clearly articulate a variety of insurance options and persuade customers to buy your products. You must be equipped to discuss complex insurance plans to help customers evaluate which policies best suit their needs.
Attend conferences and seminars sponsored by insurance organizations to better understand how current tax laws, state regulations and government programs influence the insurance industry. Shadow an experienced insurance broker to learn how a potential employer wants you to conduct company business. On-the-job training is a valuable way to gain industry experience and prepare for licensing exams.
Licensing Eligibility Requirements
Meet the minimal eligibility requirements to apply for an insurance license in your state. For example, to sell automobile insurance in California, you must be at least 18 years old, have completed 20 hours of limited lines automobile insurance coursework, and have completed 12 hours of pre-licensing study on ethics and the California Insurance Code.
Required Classes and Exams
Take the classes and pass the corresponding exams that your state requires to become a licensed insurance broker. For example, in Florida, to get a property and casualty insurance license, you must take six classes and pass exams on topics such as crop hail, customer representative, industrial fire or burglary, and general lines such as property, casualty and marine insurance coverage. To become a health and life insurance broker, you must take classes and pass exams on topics such as life and health insurance including annuities, life insurance for military and foreign persons, and variable life insurance contracts that have investment components and a cash value.
To become licensed, you must also pay any required licensing fees and submit your fingerprints for a criminal background check. In Florida, for example, the licensing fees include a $50 application fee, a $48.55 fingerprinting fee, a $42 fee for each exam, a $60 appointment fee and a $5 license identification fee.
2016 Salary Information for Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents earned a median annual salary of $49,990 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, insurance sales agents earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $77,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 501,400 people were employed in the U.S. as insurance sales agents.