Whether working for an insurance agency or brokerage, an insurance carrier or independently, insurance agents help businesses and individuals select insurance products that provide the financial protection they need. A growing number specialize in selling mutual funds, annuities, and securities, and providing comprehensive retirement and estate planning services. The specialized skills and high-level financial knowledge you’ll need to launch a successful insurance agent career can be obtained in MBA in Finance degree program.
Insurance Agent Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that insurance agent jobs are expected to grow steadily nationwide from 2008 through 2018. The demand for insurance products will continue to increase; sales of long-term-care insurance products, health insurance and financial planning services designed for the elderly will also increase as the general population ages. Finally, continued business expansion will spur job growth for commercial insurance providers. College graduates with a strong business background should enjoy the best prospects; in addition, multilingual agents will have an advantage. In addition, every job seeker is encouraged to do independent research into local trends and requirements.
Insurance Agent Job Duties
Typical duties of an insurance agent include selling life, property and casualty, long-term care, health and disability insurance policies. All are designed to protect individuals and businesses from financial losses that occur through accidents, storms, theft, health issues or the death of a family member or business partner.
Life insurance agents sell policies that pay a beneficiary when the policyholder dies. They may also sell annuities to provide income in retirement, as part of an overall financial planning strategy. Health insurance agents focus on selling plans that cover medical care expenses during illness or injury. They may specialize in short-term or long-term disability insurance, or sell multiple products.
Increasingly, insurance agents help clients plan for a secure financial future with retirement planning services for individuals and pension plan development for businesses. These professionals are usually licensed to sell variable annuities, mutual funds and other securities.
In the past, much of a new insurance agent’s time was spent seeking new clients, but the rise of online insurance quotes has resulted in clients choosing their insurance company and plan, and then connecting with an agent. Established agents prepare reports, maintain records and assist clients with filing and settling claims. Those providing financial planning services consult with clients to stay on top of changes in financial status and to ensure the client’s financial needs are met.
Insurance agents typically work in comfortable office settings. They frequently travel to make sales, check on clients and investigate claims. Many insurance agents set their own work hours, based on the needs of their clients. A 40-hour week is standard for most insurance agents, and evening hours may be required to meet with clients.
Potential Salary for Insurance Agents
According to data reported by the BLS reports in May 2010, the average annual income across the nation for insurance sales agents was $62,520. The middle 50% earned between $33,330 and $71,620. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $25,940, while the highest 10% brought in upwards of $115,340 annually. Recent bachelor’s degree program graduates will typically start out toward the lower end of the scale and may move up in salary with experience, but every job seeker is encouraged to do independent research into local trends and requirements.
Education and Training for Insurance Agents
Insurance agents are required to be licensed by the state in which they sell or negotiate insurance. Licensing requirements vary by state, and typically include insurance-related courses and an exam. Many employers hire graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in finance, business or accounting and offer on-the-job training prior to sitting for the exam. The increased complexity in tax laws and regulations affecting the insurance industry may lead employers to show preference to master’s degree holders.
In addition, a greater demand for financial products and financial planning is spurring the demand for insurance agents with advanced degrees, particularly the MBA in Finance, who have the broad financial knowledge and advanced skills needed to become properly licensed and certified to sell securities and other mutual funds. The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) administers the licensing exams. A Series 6 license is required to sell mutual funds and variable annuities, while Series 7 licensing is necessary to be a general securities sales agent.
Becoming an insurance agent can begin with earning a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance degree. Coursework typically includes financial markets and institutions, investment management, portfolio analysis, financial management and managerial economics.
Employers can be confident that graduates of an MBA in Finance degree program are able to:
- Buy and sell mutual funds, variable annuities and securities.
- Solve real-world financial planning challenges.
- Evaluate portfolio options and performance.
- Apply analytical skills to develop investment policies.
- Leverage advanced skills and knowledge to succeed as an insurance agent.
Setting Your Sights on an Insurance Agent Career?
Today’s insurance agents are highly skilled professionals who bring clients peace of mind by taking care of their insurance needs, as well as retirement and financial planning. If you currently work in banking, finance or a related profession, and enjoy working closely with individuals and business owners, you may be a great fit for an insurance agent career. If you are self-motivated, polished and confident, with good sales and communication skills, then earning your MBA in Finance could set you well on your way to success as an insurance agent!