With all the time it can take to make a sale, an insurance broker's base pay isn't as much as you might think, especially when compared to other professions. However, "base" is the operative word. As is the case with many sales professionals, insurance brokers earn commissions in addition to their salaries, and some of these commissions can be quite substantial. For this reason alone, insurance brokers can more than double their annual base salary, making them some of the highest-paid professionals in the United States.
In 2011, insurance brokers averaged $62,970 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because high salaries — as seen in securities, commodities and employee benefits — can skew this number, median wage is often a better indicator of base salary. Half of all insurance brokers earned $47,450 a year or less — a $15,000 difference from the national average.
As with most “sales” positions, industry affects base wages, and an insurance broker is no exception. Those selling insurance for outpatient care averaged $84,500 a year — the most lucrative industry for all brokers. Agents working in securities and commodities earned a little less than this, averaging $83,670 a year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics adds. Working with employee benefits offers salaries of $74,350 a year, while real estate can bring a base of $67,910 a year. Insurance agents servicing the travel industry, on the other hand, make only $53,700 a year.
On top of base pay, insurance brokers earn commissions for each policy sold, which can increase annual income exponentially. In fact, with commissions, CNN ranks insurance brokers as the tenth “top-paying” job in the United States. The reason is simple. The commission rate can be up to 10 to 15 percent of the value of the policy, bringing the median wage up to $114,000 a year. But the highest reported salary with commissions was closer to $273,000 a year. The most lucrative industries — as far as commissions go — are oil, construction and pharmaceuticals, CNN adds.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for insurance sales agents. This is faster than the anticipated job growth for all U.S. occupations — an average of 14 percent. The profitability of any insurance company, no matter the industry it’s servicing, is tied to new customers, keeping the demand for new insurance brokers strong. Candidates with good customer-service skills, sales experience and an understanding of a diverse range of products are expected to enjoy the most prospects.