Insurance agents help insurance companies build new business by persuading potential customers to purchase policies. These agents may sell insurance for homes, vehicles, life and other types of protection, explaining to clients what the policies cover and helping them choose the proper terms and amounts. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the agents must be licensed by the state in which they work, and more than one-third have a college degree.
According to the BLS, 321,780 people worked as insurance agents nationwide as of May 2011. The average annual wage for these agents was $62,970, or $30.28 an hour. The top 25 percent could make $72,490 or more, with the top 10 percent reaching six-figure salaries of $115,300 or higher. However, an agent just starting out is more likely to earn a salary in line with the lowest 25 percent, at $33,850 or less, or even the bottom 10 percent, at $25,910 or less.
How They Get Paid:
According to the BLS, the majority of agents work on a commission basis, meaning their pay is directly related to the sales they close. Most insurance companies or agencies pay either on a commission basis, on a salary plus commission basis, or on a salary plus bonus basis. A beginning agent may need to work more than 40 hours a week to achieve his sales goals and the salary that he wants to make.
According to the BLS, the largest employer of insurance agents was insurance agencies, which employed 231,940 agents. Starting agents at agencies could make a salary in line with the 25th percentile, at $33,050, or the 10th, at $25,450. Insurance carriers ranked second, with 76,380 agents. They could make a salary in line with the 25th percentile, at $37,220, or 10th percentile, at $27,820. Outpatient care centers were the best-paying industry for agents, with an average wage of $84,500. The 25th percentile wage was $43,580, while the 10th was $33,200.
The BLS reports that job growth for insurance agents is estimated at 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth may be strongest for the companies and agencies that sell long-term care insurance and other health-related policies as the population ages. This could mean strong opportunities with these agencies for agents who are just starting out.