Become a Life Insurance Agent

Though challenging, a career selling life insurance offers you the chance to earn top dollars in a recession-proof industry. Some insurance providers report that the annual income of agents not even considered the company’s top earners is between $350,000 and $600,000. In addition, there are other benefits to consider if you want to become a life insurance agent, such as the personal satisfaction you’ll feel when delivering a check to a family who’s just lost their major household provider. Most agents say these benefits outweigh disadvantages, such as the years it takes to build up a loyal clientele. If you’re up to the challenge, follow these steps so you can become a life insurance agent.


  1. Find out what insurance agents do.
    • Contact the National Association of Insurance Companies. They can provide you with background material identifying an insurance agent’s job duties.
    • Call insurance companies in the state where you’re planing to do business. Many offer job shadow opportunities for those interested in becoming agents.
    • Take a job as an assistant to a life insurance agent. Know the clerical end of the business since you’ll probably have to perform much of those administrative duties when you start out or when your support staff are not available.
    • Call the Chamber of Commerce in your state. Ask for information on the life insurance business in certain areas, such as the number of agents there and the activity level of their business.
  2. Decide whether you have the temperament and financial means to become a life insurance agent. Do you have the people skills to build relationships and communicate effectively so you can persuade skeptical people they should purchase insurance they need but don’t want? Are you personally inclined to rallies and fund-raising events in your community, since that’s how most agents drum up business? Do you have the financial means to forego a salary for the first six months or until your business becomes profitable?
  3. Look for educational and employment opportunities with insurance companies.
    • Take an administrative position at an insurance company and seek opportunities to move up the ladder.
    • Get hired as a potential agent by an insurer that offers on the job training and compensates you during the training period. Although most applicants never make it past the screening stages, those who get accepted into an insurance company’s training program receive high levels of moral and financial support as they learn their trade. Some companies even help you locate office space and give you thousands of dollars just to get started.
  4. Find out about your state’s requirements for education and licensing. Call the agency that handles licensing and pre-licensing education.
    • Find out if you must complete a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction in areas like life insurance, health insurance and combined life and health.
    • Ask if your state has a list of approved providers of life insurance education that you must complete training with.
    • Request a list of recommended study aides that can help you pass the exam.
    • Determine the dates you can take the exams, the testing centers and the fees.
    • Find out what the state considers a passing score on the exam.
    • Inquire about continuing education requirements. For example, how often must you renew your license and what courses must you complete before renewal?
  5. Apply for licensure. Contact the Department of Banking and Insurance in your state so you can apply online.
    • Ask whether you will need a letter of certification if you do not reside in the state where you’re planning to sell life insurance. If you need the letter, contact the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which can verify that you have satisfied the educational requirements in a different state.
    • Find out whether you must license as a business entity if you are not planning to do business as an individual agent.


  • While you are young, you can ask the local insurance firm if you could work for them just for experience. It does not have to be anything big, just simple things like helping people around the office doing the less important things, shredding papers, copying files, getting people coffee, etc. This will give you some experience and you could put it on your resume. It will also help you to get to know people and they'll be better placed to advise you and even recommend you for jobs later on.

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