When we first hear the phrase ‘life insurance’, the first thing that comes to our minds is ‘saving up some money that will be paid to a relative or loved one after death’. But life insurance goes way more than just ‘accruing funds for many years’. It is a career, a financial service; though one out of many. Being a life insurance agent is similar to working in financial industries such as banking, trusts or investments sectors.
Life insurance companies are a large and vital contributor to the world economy in addition to being a major employer of labour.
Though quite challenging, a career in selling life insurance offers you the chance to earn top dollars in an industry which is proof to recession.
In addition, there are many other side benefits a life insurance agent stands to gain, such as the personal satisfaction they feel when delivering a check to a family who just lost a loved one.
But, how can one become a life insurance agent?
Like any other profession, one cannot just wake up and become a life insurance agent. There are minimal requirements in ‘training’ and ‘experience’ you must have to pass through.
Licensed life insurance agents: Minimum educational requirements
1. A 4-year college degree in a relevant field
Most life insurance agencies do not specify the type of formal educational requirements, but many prefer to hire college graduates.
Though becoming a life insurance agent is largely open to anyone with a first degree, but a degree in certain related disciplines will be an added advantage.
Any degree or certification that shows that you’re familiar with principles of marketing, business, and finance will make you a more competitive and qualified candidate.
2. Determine if you need to take a pre-licensing training course
Most states require life insurance agents to have completed a pre-licensing training course. You will need to find out about your state’s licensing and education requirements by contacting the relevant state government department.
Find out if you must complete a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction in areas like life insurance and health insurance, and ask if your state has a list of approved providers of life insurance education that you must complete training with.
Also, inquire about continuing education requirements. For example, how often must you renew your license and what courses must you complete before renewal?
3. Register for and complete a pre-licensing training course if necessary
If your state specifies it as one of the requirements, then you must register for a pre-licensing training course and complete it. Also, ensure that you complete the course with a state-approved education provider.
4. Take the state insurance licensing exam
After you’ve finished your training course, apply to take the licensing exam with your state’s Department of Insurance. Registration is usually open online, but you are requiref to take the exam in person at an official test center.
5. Take time to study your State’s requirements, restrictions and guidelines
Some states also require license applicants to be sponsored by an employer. Carefully go through your state’s restrictions and guidelines before applying to take the exam.
The exam will test your general knowledge of policies, state laws regarding insurance, and general knowledge about insurance concepts and terms. Request a list of recommended study aids from the agency that handles licensing and education for insurance agents to help you pass the exam.
The test can be completed in 1 multi-hour sitting and you will be charged a small convenience fee for taking the test in the testing center.
Relevant experience requirements for one to become a life insurance agent
1. Don’t be a Newbie in the insurance, marketing or other related industry
Though most insurance companies train their new agents, however, having experience in similar types of jobs will strengthen your application and make you stand out from the competition.
For example, you might develop relevant skills, such as communication skills, personability, and perseverance, and confidence by working as a used car salesperson.
Life insurance agents meet with people from all walks of life and in various emotional states, including grieving times after the death of a loved one. You can volunteer at a hospice to build yourself in the area of interpersonal communication.
2. Volunteer community service to foster interpersonal relations
Success as a life insurance agent partially depends on making connections within your community. Engage in community outreach and volunteering in your area to help foster these connections, as well as improve your interpersonal communication skills.
Because life insurance agents often work with the elderly and the sick, consider volunteering in a hospice or elderly home. This will help you become more comfortable with conversations about mortality and develop the communication skills you’ll need to sell life insurance.
Volunteer with an organization that goes door-to-door or talks to people on the street to help you overcome any lingering fears of public speaking or approaching strangers.
3. Don’t miss out on training opportunities with insurance companies
Grab any administrative or training position at an insurance company and seek opportunities to move up the ladder. This is one sure way to gain entry into a company in a tremendous way.
You can seek for such opportunities by directly contacting the insurance companies to find out about these opportunities. Check periodically the company’s job listing website to see if they may post openings for trainees or other entry-level employees there.
Getting hired as a potential agent by an insurer with offers of compensation on the job training will be a great advantage to you. Although most applicants never make it past the screening stages, those who get accepted into a company’s training program receive a great deal of experience and financial support as they learn their trade.
How to Find a Job as a life Insurance Agent
1. Do a thorough Research on the insurance companies you would want to work at
Before sending out your application, determine which agencies are the best fit for you (e.g., they’re in a good location, offer competitive employee benefits, etc.). Also check to make sure you meet the hiring qualifications for each company.
For example, many companies have additional requirements for job candidates or for agents to follow after being hired. Make sure you’re aware of any extra responsibilities certain companies place on their insurance agents.
Some agencies will also hire you before you’ve obtained your license. Consider applying to these companies before you’ve taken your licensing exam to get a jump start on your career.
To find out more about companies’ pedigrees, visit the insurance company rating websites for Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Companies with less than an “A” rating tend to have more complaints against them and may not be good for you to work for.
2. Work on your resume
The resume you submit as part of your application should highlight all the qualities you possess that would make you a better life insurance agent. These qualities include persistence, an entrepreneurial spirit, and being a self-starter.
If you’ve ever established your own business or advanced someone else’s business in a significant way, include this on your resume as reflective of your entrepreneurial spirit.
Any job, educational achievement, or other accomplishment in the face of sizable obstacles should be included on your resume to showcase your persistence and perseverance. These are both absolutely necessary qualities in a life insurance agent.
3. Apply to a wide range of companies
You should apply to as many companies as you can for the best chance of securing a job. The more applications you have out, the better your odds are of receiving a stellar job offer at a company you’d enjoy working at.
Contact insurance carriers and brokerages for information about employment opportunities if they don’t have any active postings. They may still want to hire you even if they aren’t trying to find new employees right now.
Use online job search sites like Monster.com and Craigslist to look for job openings in your area.
You should also post your resume to candidate search sites like LinkedIn or ZipRecruiter. A company may reach out to YOU to offer you a job!
4. Follow up on your application
Following up your application with a phone call is a good way to demonstrate your tenacity. In fact, many companies won’t even consider hiring a prospective agent if they don’t call about their application.
In the phone call, thank the employer for their consideration, offer to provide any additional information that may be helpful in their hiring decision, and be sure to leave a phone number that they can reach you at.
Make follow-up phone calls on a weekly basis until you hear an answer one way or another about your application.
5. Show openly your resilience, tenacity and zealousness
These are the most important factors that companies look for in potential life insurance agents. Talk up your persistent and entrepreneurial qualities in the interview and make it clear that you’re not the type that gives up on tough tasks easily.
You might decide to relate a story about an experience in your life (like when you started your own business) describing how tenacious you were in the face of difficult obstacles and how you never despaired inspite of difficulties. Personal narratives are very compelling and will help the interviewer get a sense of who you are as an individual rather than just an application.
Some of the key qualities to emphasize in your interview include confidence, persistence, focus, courage, and a genuine passion for helping people. Beyond being a salesperson, a life insurance agent is also someone who cares about what’s in the best interest of their client.
A good life insurance agent will face a lot of rejection, especially at the beginning of a career. Interviewers and employers want to know how courageous and optimistic you will be in the face of all these challenges. You must prove and demonstrate your ability to deliver on the job you will be hired to do.