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Education and License
A college degree typically is not required but is often preferred by employers seeking to hire insurance agents. Those who have a high school education may be able to find work if they have the requisite sales experience or skill set. To better an applicant's chances of finding a job as an insurance agent, a degree in finance, math, economics or business helps.
Beyond education, sales agents must be licensed to sell insurance. Licenses are specific both to the state and to the insurance field. Applicants must pass a state exam to become licensed. An agent wishing to sell both life and casualty insurance must be licensed by the state for each separate field. Additionally, if the agent intends to sell insurance in different states, she must have a license in each state.
Previous sales experience is very helpful to becoming an insurance agent. Further, sales experience can make up for a lack of formal education and training. Additionally, it helps if the agent has some degree or background in
the insurance field he has chosen. For example, underwriters of insurance policies who want to sell insurance would make good candidates selling policies with which they are familiar.
Skills and Traits
Insurance agents often meet with clients face-to-face and spend time speaking to clients on the phone. Good interpersonal skills are necessary for success in this field. Additionally, a good agent will not look at the client as simply a mark or the means to an end for a commission. Insurance agents must be able to analyze a client's position and tailor an insurance policy that best meets those needs.
A person can possess all of the previously mentioned traits but not make it as an agent if they have no job prospects. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report shows that many agents become employed by large insurance companies or independently-owned agencies. Becoming affiliated with a company greatly reduces the time and effort needed to become a successful insurance salesman. According to the BLS, this field is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018.