The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Life Insurance Agent

Written by Matthew King, time it takes to read this article is  minute(s).


23% of Americans don’t have life insurance. Of course, they recognize the importance of protecting their loved ones if something happens to them. Yet, for whatever reason haven’t made the purchase.

Without life insurance, your family may not have an avenue to handle debts should you pass away due to a catastrophic event.

For a person interested in selling life insurance, this large percentage of uninsured people is a huge opportunity when breaking into career sales.

Much about being a life insurance agent is finding leads and converting the sale. It’s also important to be highly knowledgeable about insurance and the product being sold.

To learn more about becoming a life insurance agent and helping your loved ones steer clear of the dreaded insurance slump, keep reading.

What Do Life Insurance Agents Do?

A life insurance agent is a type of insurance agent who focuses on selling life insurance specifically. This means the insurance agent must have a high level of knowledge about types of life insurance and the product they sell.

A life insurance agent will connect with clients who want to plan for their future. The insurance salesperson must have good communication skills and the ability to build relationships with people who will hopefully be long-term customers.

Is Selling Insurance a Good Career Choice?

Life insurance sales can be a great career opportunity for the right person. Once the life insurance agent is trained and licensed (more on this shortly), how successful they become is up to them.

Being a successful insurance salesperson is all about making connections with people, building relationships, and showing potential customers how your product can help them.

Of course, the most successful life insurance salespeople are those who are comfortable talking to people and have the ability to engage with others.

Duties of  Life Insurance Agent

Of course, the ultimate job of a life insurance agent is to make the sale. Yet, it might be a little more than just introducing yourself and making the sale.

Life insurance salespeople will:

  • Reach out to potential clients to look for new clients
  • Get to know potential clients, their finances, and their goals for coverage
  • Educate potential and current clients about the insurance policies
  • Help to ensure clients have the insurance coverage they need
  • Handle policy changes and renewals
  • Maintain records and communication with clients and potential clients
  • Create custom solutions as needed to get more people insurance coverage

An insurance agent needs to stay educated about the products they sell and any policy changes that might impact the client’s coverage.

Education Requirements for a Life Insurance Agent

You might wonder if you need a college degree to become a life insurance agent. The simple answer is that you need to take a training and licensing course so you’re prepared to pass the licensing test.

Many insurance agencies want to hire insurance agents who are not only licensed but also have a college degree.

While a college degree might not be required, it can help. Background knowledge in:

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Management
  • Communications

These areas of advanced learning will always help a life insurance salesperson, although it’s not a requirement.

Steps to Becoming a Life Insurance Agent

So, if a college degree isn’t required, what do you have to do to become a life insurance salesperson? Let’s take a closer look at the steps required to be ready to join the sales field.

Complete High School

The first step in becoming a life insurance salesperson is to complete high school or get a GED certificate. This is a requirement to sell insurance and get licensed.

Students in high school who might be interested in life insurance sales can benefit by taking business or marketing courses, even at the high school level.

Research Licensing Courses and State Licensing Requirements

If you’re ready to pursue this career and have completed high school, the next step is to do some research to make sure you understand your state’s requirements.

Some states require life insurance agents to take a pre-licensing course for a minimum number of required hours. After these hours are completed, then get licensed. Some states only require the licensing step.

It’s important to know your state requirements since some states also have different requirements depending on the type of insurance you’re hoping to make.

Register and Complete a Licensing Course

In most cases, even if it’s not required, life insurance courses can be very helpful when taking the licensing exam.

There are a variety of third-party organizations that offer licensing courses. Typically, it’s several hours of course.

If you already have an association with an insurance agency, sometimes they have their own licensing prep courses.

Ultimately, the more education you have before you consider taking the licensing exam, the better position you’ll be in to take the test.

Prepare for Licensing Exam

Once you’ve completed the pre-licensing course, you need to ensure you’re ready to take your state licensing test. Some states will provide some guidebooks for preparation.

In general, you’ll need to know:

  • State-required insurance regulations and rules for selling insurance
  • Know the different insurance applications, policies, underwriting, and policy delivery
  • Understand the intricacies of policy exclusions and riders
  • Taxes and retirement law
  • Different types of insurance policies

For more information on your state’s licensing exam, be sure to check the state insurance department website.

Take State Licensing Exam

Once you’re ready for the exam, you need to register to take the exam. Most states require the exam to be taken at an in-person location.

There are some states that require sponsorship by an insurance employer, so be sure to check this before you prep for the exam.

Once you pass the licensing exam, your state may have some paperwork requirements to get the license on file with the state. Be sure to follow up by submitting paperwork in order to be officially licensed.

Helping Your Insurance Career

Now that you have the required licensing, you’re ready to start your life insurance sales career.

There are probably still some things you can learn to better yourself in the insurance industry.

Community Volunteering

As you get started in your life insurance sales career, you’ll need to get connected to potential clients.

Since selling insurance is about making connections with people, one of the best things you can do is get out in the community. Join some community organizations and volunteer around the community.

This will help you get known and also help you create some relationships with potential clients as you get established.

Gain Experience

Many established insurance companies offer additional training to licensed agents. Reach out directly to insurance companies to find out if they offer training related to their products.

As you look to get connected to an insurance agency, the more training you can bring to the table, and the more connections you have, the better candidate you become.

Even if you want to remain an independent agent, the more training you have, the better you’ll be prepared.

Decide What Type of Agent You’ll Be

You already know you want to sell life insurance. Now, you need to decide what route you’ll use to sell that insurance.

An agent who is called a captive agent sells exclusively for one insurance company or agency. You only sell their products and work exclusively for that insurance company. The benefit is that the insurance company or agency provides:

  • Office space
  • Leads (prospective customers)
  • Administrative staff
  • Training and motivational programs

The downside is that you only have their products to sell.

The other type of insurance agent is an independent agent. Typically, an independent agent sets up their own business and sells insurance from many different companies. This type of agent has more flexibility and more options to meet the client’s needs for insurance.

The downside to being an independent agent is that you don’t get some of the support provided by a captive agency.

Tips for Being a Successful Agent

Aside from the important training and licensing requirements to become a life insurance agent, there are some skills that will serve you well in the industry.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to increase your success threshold in the insurance sales field.

Strong Communication Skills

The importance of being an effective communicator can’t be understated. From the first moment you connect with a potential client, you need to deliver your message effectively.

You need to show the client through your words how your product will meet their needs and why one option is better than another.

Don’t underestimate the value of practice. The more comfortable you are with the delivery of information about your product, the more effective you will be when in front of a potential client.


Confidence is another important trait of a successful insurance agent. You want to show that you believe in the product you’re selling and can deliver that information with ease.

The most successful insurance salespeople are able to adapt quickly on their feet in front of a potential client. They can answer questions and make connections about how the product serves the client’s needs.

The reality is that starting out in insurance can be tough work. Some people will tell you they’re not interested. You need to have confidence in yourself to know you can be a success.

Strong Stamina

Be realistic about the amount of stamina you will need to work in the insurance industry. It can be competitive. The most successful life insurance agents are:

  • Putting in consistent effort
  • Using all their energy towards making the sale
  • Maintaining stamina even if they face obstacles

Be prepared to work a lot of hours at first. The reality is that you need to be ready to meet with potential clients when it’s convenient for them. Often that means working some evenings and some weekends as you get started.

Provide Outstanding Customer Service

If you want your customers to want to buy from you and maintain their insurance with you, then you need to provide outstanding customer service.

The reality is that people don’t like to spend their hard-earned money with a salesperson who’s lackluster and doesn’t keep their promises.

In sales, your biggest asset is providing outstanding customer service. Being able to gauge your client’s needs, concerns, and questions while not putting them under too much pressure will go a long way toward making a sale.

Get Others to Give Referrals

As you work towards building a business, referrals are key. As you make sales and provide that great customer service, you need your customers to want to recommend you to their friends and family.

Here’s how you’ll go about building your clientele. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool in the insurance industry.

Be a Go-Getter

Overall, as you begin a career in life insurance sales, be prepared to be a go-getter. Get the training, then be prepared to learn all you can about your products.

Then work hard to engage with people and show them how your insurance is a smart choice for them. So often, insurance sales happen because the salesperson really gets to know the client well and can address their unique set of needs with the right insurance product.

Benefits of Selling Insurance

There are many benefits to becoming a licensed life insurance salesperson. You will get:

  • Opportunities
  • Access to many insurance jobs
  • Ability to make a decent wage
  • Passive income as you build your customer base

Many insurance agents appreciate knowing they work independently. Ultimately, the more they work and connect with clients, the more successful they can be at selling life insurance.

Find a New Career in Life Insurance

It’s not hard to become a life insurance agent. With the right training course, you’re on your way to getting licensed and getting started selling.

You can learn more about Insurance Sales 101 training programs and get your questions answered. Sign up today to become an Insurance Elite Customer.

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