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Anyone considering a career as an insurance agent or broker should be extremely cautious and take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of the job. It takes a great deal of time and effort to earn realistic pay as an insurance producer, and only a small percentage of people who begin actually stay the course.
There are two major types of insurance agents: life and health, and property and casualty. Both types of agents face similar challenges, and enjoy similar compensation benefits. The main difference is the type of insurance policies they sell.
The insurance industry is filled with hundreds of thousands of licensed agents, yet very few actually earn a good living. To an outsider, the insurance profession may seem like an easy business to run, with an endless supply of new customers. This could not be further from the truth.
Most newly licensed insurance agents leave the industry after less than a year. The significant turnover ratio is clear evidence of how difficult it is to succeed as an insurance agent. Those who remain in the business for at least a few years are much more likely to earn a comfortable living from their efforts.
There are more insurance agents working in Florida than in any other state, and the annual mean wage is less than $60,000. Massachusetts has only 1/6 the number of insurance agents as Florida, and the annual mean wage there is just under $77,000. Connecticut, California, New York, and New Jersey round out the top five highest-paying states for insurance agents, and all have annual mean wages in the low to mid $70,000 range. There is no limit to how much money an insurance agent can make. Their income is directly related to their ability to find new customers.
Successful insurance agents may enjoy a work environment that is much less rigid and structured than most other professionals. Since a large percentage of insurance sales occur outside the office, a great deal of flexibility exists for agents to arrange their daily work schedules to fit around their personal obligations.
Gregory Gambone is senior vice president of a small New Jersey insurance brokerage. His expertise is insurance and employee benefits. He has been writing since 1997. Gambone released his first book, "Financial Planning Basics," in 2007 and continues to work on his next industry publication. He earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University.