How to Become an Insurance Agent in 4 Steps

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Insurance agents have the important job of helping people who need coverage to find the best plan for their needs. Which makes working as an agent is essentially a special kind of sales position. But unlike most sales positions, insurance agents require licensure to practice.

For undertaking that extra effort, insurance agents typically enjoy excellent job stability and highly competitive salaries. And becoming a licensed insurance agent isn’t actually that complex. Because many skills learned in previous experiences can translate into these careers, like listening skills, verbal communication.

So it doesn’t matter if you’ve already got a background in risk management or insurance, or if you’re totally new to the field - learning how to become a licensed insurance agent can be as simple as following four steps.

Step 1: Research Insurance Programs & Specialties

Before you become an insurance agent, the first thing you’ll need to do is narrow your focus a little. There are many different kinds of insurance agent licensure programs, each granting the license-holder domain over a different line of authority. For example:

  • Health: These licenses include a broad range of policies, including things like long-term care, disability, medical, supplements to Medicare, and so forth.
  • Casualty: People licensed for casualty insurance work with professional liability policies, worker’s compensation, coverage for crime, and so on.
  • Variable Products: As products insurance, this field specializes in investment insurance, which requires additional security licenses.
  • Property: This specialty includes things like commercial property, homeowner property, and even inland marine coverage.

These different specialties involve learning about different laws, regulations, and challenges. Some licenses are more difficult to get. It’s worth taking a moment to research of which most closely suits your career goals.

Step 2: Complete the Pre-Licensure Requirements for Your State & Specialty

Many states have pre-licensing requirements, like mandated insurance courses that cover state-specific information. While these are usually among the simplest requirements to become an insurance agent, they do vary by state and specialty. Most states require fingerprinting, background checks, and passing a state exam.

Step 3: Pass Your State’s Exam to Get Your Insurance License

Among the many requirements to become an insurance agent, pre-licensure requirements are usually a fairly minor barrier to entry, but it does take some preparation to pass a state license exam. Each state and specialty will have their own requirements, and most state exams are typically presented as 50-200 multiple choice questions.

How long does it take to prepare to get your insurance license? Most successful candidates study for around 35 to 40 hours to pass their state exams. To better retain the material, that study time should ideally be spread across at least two or three weeks.

Step 4: Apply to Agencies or Decide to Practice Independently

After you’ve aced the exam and taken care of pre-licensure requirements, the last step to become a licensed insurance agent is to apply to an agency or brokerage. Finding positions at a company that interests you is one option, but you could also decide to pursue a career as an independent agent. Working independently has its own advantages and disadvantages. But seeking more control over their own schedule, there’s nothing better than working for yourself.

Learn More About Insurance Agent Careers with MyPath

For students, graduates, active job-seekers, and even those considering a career change to insurance, MyPath has a number of resources to help you grow your career. You can explore our Career Planning Tools and the MyPath Blog for valuable tips and tricks on advancing your career as efficiently as possible. And if you’re not sure if a career as an insurance agent is right for you, try our Career Wizard Tool to find the insurance role you’d enjoy the most.