1. Check the Requirements in your State
When you are first thinking about becoming an insurance agent, you want to first see if you are eligible to apply for a license and then what the requirements are using the National Insurance Producer Registry. Some states require you to have a high school diploma alone or in combination with a bachelor’s degree. Some require you to have a producer license instead.
For example, you can view the requirements for California here.
2. Complete Pre-licensing Requirements
You need a broker license from each state you plan to work in. There are different options for licenses like life, personal, casualty insurance, broker, and agents/producer. A broker license is different from an agent/producer, but you can still have both. Some states are moving from having one or the other, and requiring both an agents/producer and brokers license. An insurance agent, or producer which is just another word for the same position, is someone that sells insurance for an insurance company. They can either be “captive” meaning the company they work for doesn’t allow them to sell insurance from another company. They can also be independent agents that represent more than one company, meaning they sell for multiple carriers. Insurance brokers are similar to independent agents where they sell insurance for multiple carriers; however, the difference is that they are not hired by a company and work on behalf of individual consumers and in other words, their clients.
Each state has different requirements but most are similar where they have you complete required coursework, submit fingerprints, and take a qualifying exam all of which need to be completed. The broker exam is typically offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority These requirements also come with fees to complete the process, because they all vary, you want to make sure you are prepared.
3. Submit Application
Once you have completed all your state’s pre-licensing requirements, it is time to submit! They will ask you for the certificate that you completed the course and passed the qualifying exam in combination with a fee for submitting your application. Some applications require multiple fees. They may ask you for your work history as well.
4. Do I Have to Renew My License?
Yes, you will probably need to renew your broker license after a few years. Most states require renewals so all insurance brokers are up-to-date with any new requirements and make sure their skills are still up to par. Make sure to check your state’s requirements to see when you will need to.
5. How can I get experience?
There are a few ways you can get experience as an insurance broker, like an internship, degree program, or certifications. Getting previous experience is not required but definitely better prepares you for the job and a more competitive option for employers.
Certifications: As a broker, you are able to get additional certifications to make you aware of all the newest laws and regulations and better equipped for your job. Some certificates help you focus on internal and external factors that can affect you business development goals like the AIMS Society’s Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) Designation. There are some certifications that require 1-2 years of previous work experience in the field, but some don’t, based on what you are looking for you can find the certification that adds an edge to your profile.
Internships: An internship is a great way to get some experience because it lasts for a limited amount of time and tends to be more hands on. Because they tend to be more hands on, you will be able to learn from someone with more experience how insurance sales go and what techniques they use to improve their sales.
Degree programs: A four-year degree or higher can help you stand out among your peers. Certain degree programs like business management with classes in risk management or other insurance related classes will teach you skills that you can directly apply. Your communication skills will be improved through classes like sociology and psychology. Even if the classes do not directly apply to you, other skills like reading and writing will be strengthened which too can help with customers.