Insurance sales agents
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Overview
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for insurance sales agents are expected to grow by 10%, and should have about 56,200 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Insurance sales agents are more likely to be automated than 79% of other careers.
Workforce size
Insurance sales agents, with 501,400 workers, form a larger workforce than 91% of careers.
Education
Only 48% of insurance sales agents have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by insurance sales agents
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More insurance sales agents have bachelor's degrees than 68% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for insurance sales agents is higher than 53% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most insurance sales agents.
This job's median $51KAll jobs' median $39K$51K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 48% of insurance sales agents -- that's a larger percentage than 62% of other jobs.
Gender of insurance sales agents
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For insurance sales agents, the median men's salary was 30% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 16% of insurance sales agents are minority, and 9% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of insurance sales agents
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (9%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Insurance Sales Agents per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 39% of insurance sales agents, and 49% have company-sponsored health insurance (23% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for insurance sales agents
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 47% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of insurance sales agents who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (100%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (53%)
  • Consequence of Error (34%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (34%)
  • Degree of Automation (31%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do insurance sales agents earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for insurance sales agents, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for insurance sales agents compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for insurance sales agents (BLS Salary Data)
$51K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$51K$0$50K$100K$150K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all insurance sales agents, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for insurance sales agents compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for insurance sales agents (ACS Salary Data)
$46K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$46K$0$50K$100K$150K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where insurance sales agents work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Insurance sales agents (ACS)
Private for-profit (76.9%)
Private not-for-profit (2.6%)
Local government (0.1%)
State government (0.2%)
Federal government (0.2%)
Self-employed incorporated (9.3%)
Self-employed not incorporated (10.6%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of insurance sales agents by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$46K$48K$44K$52K$66K$44K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of insurance sales agents by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$51K$40K$51K$62K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for insurance sales agents

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$52K$52K$37K$52K$25K$52K$53K$43K$47K$0$50K$100K$150KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
020K40K60KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Insurance sales agents and gender

With 48% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 62% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
48%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Insurance sales agents
Men (52%)
Women (48%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for insurance sales agents tops that, with the median salary for men 30% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$41K$53K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Insurance sales agents have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 79% of other jobs.

30%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of insurance sales agents

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority insurance sales agents than for 65% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of insurance sales agents
White (82% )
Black (9% )
Asian (4% )
Other (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
16%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
9%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for insurance sales agents by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$37K$38K$39K$41K$43K$47K$48K$0$50K$100K$150KOtherHispanicBlackAmerican IndianMultiracialAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for insurance sales agents by nativity
$42K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by insurance sales agents

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), insurance sales agents typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as insurance sales agents as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for insurance sales agents.

Education attained by insurance sales agents
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for insurance sales agents

A high school diploma is the typical requirement for insurance sales agents, although a bachelor’s degree can improve one’s job prospects. Public-speaking classes can be useful in improving sales techniques, and often agents will have taken courses in business, finance, or economics. Business knowledge is also helpful for sales agents hoping to advance to a managerial position.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for insurance sales agents

Insurance sales agents must have a license in the states where they work. Separate licenses are required for agents to sell life and health insurance and property and casualty insurance. In most states, licenses are issued only to applicants who complete specified courses and who pass state exams covering insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws. Most state licensing authorities also require agents to take continuing education courses focusing on insurance laws, consumer protection, ethics, and the technical details of various insurance policies.

As the demand for financial-planning services increases, many agents also choose to get licensed and certified to sell securities and other financial products. Licensing and certification requires substantial study time to pass an additional exam—either the Series 6 or Series 7 licensing exam, both of which are administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Series 6 exam is for agents who want to sell only mutual funds and variable annuities. The Series 7 exam is the main FINRA series license, which qualifies agents as general securities sales representatives.

A number of organizations offer certifications that show an agent’s expertise in insurance specialties. These certifications are not required for employment, but they can give job candidates an advantage over other applicants. Certifications also can be a source of continuing education credit. For details on specific designations, contact The Institutes and The American College of Financial Services.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for insurance sales agents? Below we see the distribution of insurance sales agents salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as insurance sales agents, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$31K$38K$41K$42K$56K$60K$75K$51K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (1%)High School (15%)Some College (26%)Associate's Degree (10%)Bachelor's Degree (40%)Master's Degree (6%)Professional Deg/Doct (1%)Doctorate (0%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by insurance sales agents

This table shows the college majors held by people working as insurance sales agents. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Insurance sales agents with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as insurance sales agents, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by insurance sales agents given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for insurance sales agents

What jobs will most insurance sales agents hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of insurance sales agents reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Insurance sales agentsManagers (specialized areas)First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersInsurance claims and policy processing clerksPersonal financial advisorsFinancial managersInsurance underwritersMarketing and sales managersClaims adjusters and insurance appraisers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for insurance sales agents

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as insurance sales agents as well as 1% of respondents after working as insurance sales agents. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for insurance sales agents: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as insurance sales agents? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of insurance sales agents surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Read about insurance sales agents
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Insurance sales agents typically do the following:

  • Call potential clients in order to expand their own customer base
  • Interview prospective clients to get information about their financial resources and discuss existing coverage
  • Explain the features of various policies
  • Analyze clients’ current insurance policies and suggest additions or other changes
  • Customize insurance programs to suit individual clients
  • Handle policy renewals
  • Maintain electronic and paper records

Insurance sales agents commonly sell one or more types of insurance, such as property and casualty, life, health, and long-term care insurance.

Property and casualty insurance agents sell policies that protect people and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance also covers workers’ compensation claims, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.

Life insurance agents specialize in selling policies that pay beneficiaries when a policyholder dies. Life insurance agents also sell annuities that promise a retirement income.

Health and long-term care insurance agents sell policies that cover the costs of medical care and assisted-living services for senior citizens. They also may sell dental insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance.

Agents may specialize in selling any one of these products or function as generalists providing multiple products.

An increasing number of insurance sales agents offer their clients—especially those approaching retirement—comprehensive financial-planning services, including retirement planning and estate planning. In addition to offering insurance, these agents may become licensed to sell mutual funds, variable annuities, and other securities. This practice is most common with life insurance agents who already sell annuities, but many property and casualty agents also sell financial products.

Many agents spend a lot of time marketing their services and creating their own base of clients. They do this in a variety of ways, including making “cold” sales calls to people who are not current clients.

Potential clients often use comparison shopping tools online to learn about different policies and get information from insurance companies. Clients can either purchase a policy directly from the company’s website or contact the company to speak with a sales agent.

Insurance agents also find new clients through referrals by current clients. Keeping clients happy so that they recommend the agent to others is a key to success for insurance sales agents.

Insurance agents may work for a single insurance company or an insurance brokerage.

Captive agents are insurance sales agents who work exclusively for one insurance company. They can only sell policies provided by the company that employs them.

Independent insurance agents work for insurance brokerages, selling the policies of several companies. They match insurance policies for their clients with the company that offers the best rate and coverage.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of insurance sales agents? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
Insurance sales agents must evaluate the needs of each client to determine the appropriate insurance policy.
Communication skills
Insurance sales agents must be able to communicate effectively with customers by listening to their requests and suggesting suitable policies.
Initiative
Insurance sales agents need to actively seek out new customers in order to maintain a flow of commissions.
Self-confidence
Insurance sales agents should be confident when making “cold” calls (calls to prospective customers whom they have not contacted before). They must speak clearly and persuasively and maintain their composure if rejected.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for insurance sales agents
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for insurance sales agents was higher than 53% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $51KAll jobs' median $39K$55K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for insurance sales agents are anticipated to grow by 10% over the next decade, which is faster growth than is predicted for 63% of other jobs.

The projected employment for insurance sales agents is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20002010202020300200,000400,000600,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most insurance sales agents? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as insurance sales agents. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Insurance Sales Agents per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.04.05.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where insurance sales agents earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for insurance sales agents compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for insurance sales agents.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Insurance Sales Agents to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which insurance sales agents earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Insurance sales agents (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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