Insurance agents can take personal satisfaction in helping to protect the public's well-being and security through sales of products such as life, health, auto and home insurance. Life insurance, for example, protects a family from financial hardship when a major breadwinner dies. In addition to job fulfillment, insurance sales offers many other benefits, including relatively easy entry, a high earning potential and the chance to choose your own work environment.
Start Earning Quickly
One advantage to a career in insurance sales is the modest formal education requirement. Most entry-level positions require only a high school diploma and a state license. Licensing typically requires you to take approved courses and pass exams on insurance and relevant state laws. Although a college degree is sometimes necessary for advancement, you can start earning before you complete a degree.
Choose Your Environment
Another upside to insurance agent jobs is the ability to choose your work environment. You may work for one insurance carrier, for an agency that sells products from many companies or as a self-employed agent. Depending on the type of job, you can usually choose your own hours and whether to stay at the office or drive to clients. An ambitious agent can work more hours for potentially higher pay. As of 2012, approximately 20 percent of agents worked more than 40 hours a week, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A career in insurance sales allows you to match your earnings to your sales abilities. Because many agents are paid completely or partly by commission, superior sales skills can earn you high pay. The average annual wage for insurance sales was $63,610 as of 2013, according to the BLS. This compares favorably with the average wage in all industries of $46,440 per year. In addition, the top 10 percent of insurance agents earned $117,830 annually or more. In the highest-paying industry for insurance sales, securities and commodities, agents earned an average of $104,620 per year.
Stability and Advancement
Because people need protection even in hard times, a career in insurance sales offers the advantages of job stability and favorable prospects. For example, the aging of the U.S. population will increase the demand for health and long-term care insurance. The BLS predicts average job growth of 10 percent between 2012 and 2022, but the retirement of older agents will open up positions. Agents who earn a related degree, such as in business, can increase their prospects of advancing to management. Another way to advance is by passing additional licensing exams for securities sales.
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.