A career in the field of auto insurance is one that can be both rewarding and exciting for the right people. It’s certainly not the best career choice for everyone but, for those who enjoy it, nothing could be better.
If you’re considering a career in the auto insurance field there are some important things you need to know about becoming an auto insurance agent.
1- Getting Educated
1. Learn about the career path. Before you begin your journey towards becoming an auto insurance agent, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the career. You want to make sure the work is right for you before settling on it.
- Auto insurance agents either work independently or for an insurance company. They sell insurance policies to car owners, usually working on commission. The majority of insurance agents are employed through an auto insurance agency, such as AllState, while roughly 20% of agents work independently.
- Much of your job as an auto insurance agent revolves around seeking out sales. Your work will be a combination of phone work and working with people face-to-face. If you work independently, your schedule may be somewhat unpredictable.
- There may be quotas for commission if you're working through an agency. There is a somewhat high level of turn around for new agents due to this issue. However, having a background in sales heading into the field may give you a better chance of success.
2. Start off in high school. In many cases, a high school diploma and license is all that's required to become an auto insurance agent. If you don't plan on pursuing education beyond high school, stock up on the right classes while you're still in school.
- Classes on economics, accounting, marketing, and finance will help with the sales aspect of the job. As you'll also need to know a bit about cars, see if your school offers any engineering classes or classes about automobiles. You may even find your school has vocational classes or summer programs available for those interested in learning about mechanics and cars.
- Emotional intelligence is an important aspect of being an auto insurance agent. You'll need to listen to clients and understand what they want and need out of a policy so you can make the right recommendations. Therefore, consider taking a course in psychology during high school. This will help you learn how people function and might improve your ability to read others.
- Extra curricular activities can also help your career. Join clubs and organizations relevant to your career goals. Your school might have a club that revolves around cars and mechanics, for example. You might also want to seek out extra curricular activities that force you to work with others. For example, consider joining student council or debate team.
3. Look for internships. Internships look great on a resume and can give you insight into how a particular business or industry operates. Seek out internships in high school.
- Ask your high school career counselor about internship opportunities that would help with your goal of becoming an auto insurance agent. He or she can assist you in finding internships and walk you through the application process.
- There may be a variety of internships that would help with an auto insurance agent position. An internship involving marketing or sales could look good on a resume. You could also seek out an internship working with a local mechanic. The more you know about cars, the better.
4. Gain people skills. People skills are vital for an auto insurance agent as you'll spend much of your time working one-on-one with clients. Find work experience that forces you to work with people.
- A part-time sales job at the mall during high school, for example, would be helpful. You could also work as a receptionist at a local business over summers or seek out part-time customer service work. These types of positions build your people skills.
- As marketing and sales will be such a big part of your career, aim for sales jobs specifically when possible. Experience selling products can help you stand out in the field and meet sales quotas down the road.
5. Consider a college degree. In some states, a bachelor's or associate's degree is required to take the auto insurance agent licensing exam. Even if your state does not require a degree, however, you may want to consider a college education anyway. Having more in-depth knowledge of the field can help set you apart from the competition.
- Larger auto insurance companies tend to require a college degree of some sort. You may end up making more money in the long run if you get a college degree. A four year degree in an area involving business or finance could help your career.
- You don't necessarily need a four year degree. Community colleges and business schools often have two-year programs available where you learn about insurance. If you're not interested in a four year degree, consider a two year program instead.
6. Look into on-the-job training programs. There are many insurance companies that prefer to train potential employees themselves. They offer on-the-job training programs, where you'll learn the trade while making money. As you near the end of high school, see what insurance companies offer on-the-job training. This might be a good alternative to a college education.
2- Gaining Your License
1. Figure out the licensing requirements in your state. Nearly every state requires that auto insurance agents be licensed. However, each state's requirements differ. Know your state's specific licensing requirements before beginning the process.
- In some states, you only need to take the written exam and then you can receive your license. However, some states require a bachelor's or associate's degree in addition to completing the exam. Without the proper education, you will not qualify for a license.
- You can usually find information on license requirements on your state's government website. You can also ask career counselors at your high school or college. If you know an auto insurance agent from internship or work experience, ask him or her how to obtain a license.
2. Study for your licensing exam. Once you've figure out your state's requirements, spend a lot of time studying for the exam. You can use information provided by your state's insurance department to study. This information is usually provided in textbooks, overviews of insurance laws, and other resources you can find online or at a local library.
- Pick a comfortable location with good lighting and few distractions. You should study at a desk rather than in your bed or sofa.
- Write down information. Writing concepts and facts in your own words betters your understanding of the material. This is because you're phrasing that material in terms you understand.
- Memory games and mnemonic devices can help. For example, the popular phrase, "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally" (PEMDAS) is often used by high school students to remember the order of operations in mathematics: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and then subtraction. If you can think of a sentence to help you remember a concept, do so.
- Take breaks. Studying for hours on end can burn you out. Every 45 or 50 minutes, give yourself a break. People may also respond to rewards. For example, if you study for 45 minutes allow yourself to browse the internet for 15 minutes before getting back to work.
3. Learn about your state's exam. After studying the material, sign up to take your exam. How and where you sign up for the exam varies by state. Once you sign up, you will learn the location of the testing center, as well as the date and time you'll take the exam. Spend the time you have learning about your state's exam.
- The format of the exam varies by state. In some states, it's pen and paper while in other states it's electronic. Know the format ahead of time.
- Read up on what you need to bring to the exam room. Some states may require a photo ID, for example.
- Know what you will and won't be penalized for on the exam. You'll usually be sent guidelines after signing up. Understand whether you lose points for leaving answers blank. This will help you decide, during the exam, whether it's better to simply leave a question blank or guess if you don't know the answer.
- Retake policies vary by state. Learn your state's retake policy before taking the exam.
4. Take the exam. Once you've learned about the exam, take the exam on your scheduled testing day. Try to remain calm and practice good test taking skills during the exam.
- Get a good night's sleep before the exam and then eat a healthy breakfast. Taking care of yourself physically can help you stay focused during the exam.
- Try to remain calm during the exam. Stressing out can lead you to make errors. If you're struggling with a question, come back to it at the end if this is permitted.
- If you're taking the exam in a room with others, focus on your own work. Stressing out on how quickly others finish is distracting.
- As long as you pass the exam, you'll be able to sell insurance in your state.
3- Seeking Work
1. Write a resume. Once you've completed your exam, you'll need to start the job hunt. In order to find a good job, you'll need a solid resume.
- First, include basic information on your resume. This includes your name, phone number, e-mail address, and other basic contact information.
- Formatting on a resume should be consistent throughout. Keep things like font size, space between sections, and what words are in bold or italics consistent. Also, choose a font that's legible. Fonts that are in cursive or unprofessional in nature do not work well for resume.
- List your work experience in as impressive terms as possible. You can find lists of resume buzzwords online For example, if you worked a sales job at Sears, do not say, "Helped customers pick out clothing." Instead, write something like, "Assisted customers in choosing high-quality clothing based on their personal needs, maintaining a professional, friendly demeanor throughout the process." Also, go for specifics when possible. How much did you make per month in commission at Sears? How many customers did you help per day?
2. Practice good interview skills. Just as a good resume is important to finding a job, standing out at the interview also matters. If you're called in for an interview at an insurance company, make sure you know great interview skills.
- Research the company beforehand. You don't want to go into an interview with no knowledge of a company and its general philosophy and ethics. Spend some time browsing a company's web page prior to the interview. You can also browse a company's social media profiles. This can teach you a lot about the company's atmosphere and values.
- Review common interview questions. Things like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" and "Tell me about a time where you experienced conflict" are very common questions in any interview. Review these questions ahead of time and come up with a variety of potential answers.
- Dress up for the interview. It's always better to be slightly overdressed than under dressed. Have a few professional interview outfits ready when you go into a job interview. For women, a nice dress, business suit, or blouse and dress pants works well. For men, a suit and tie or dress shirt and tie would be appropriate.
- Use body language to convey confidence as you enter the room. Stand up straight, smile, give a good, strong handshake. You should also listen while the interviewer talks. Nod, smile, and give other non-verbal cues to show you are listening.
3. Go back to old contacts. Networking is usually the best means to find a job. Talk to insurance companies you worked at during training or internships. Ask former employers if they're hiring new agents. If not, ask if they have leads on firms that are currently hiring. If you know someone that could put a word in for you somewhere, see if they'd be willing to do so.
4. Find jobs in the field. If you're not having any luck networking, seek out jobs on your own. It can be challenging to find a job in any industry but with persistence you should eventually find something.
- If you did an on-the-job training program, there is usually a job waiting for you when you complete your licensing exam. If you did not do such a program, it's probably best to avoid applying to firms that provide these programs. Such firms usually hire employees they trained themselves.
- Look on job boards. While job boards can be frustrating, as many people apply to the same position, consistently applying to a handful of jobs each day may eventually pay off. Boards like Monster, Indeed, and SimplyHired can be helpful when you're on the job hunt.
- Don't get discouraged. It may take months before you land a job in your field. In any industry, it's common to take some time to get established. Try to maintain a positive attitude even in times of frustration. A negative attitude can show up in subtle ways on cover letters and during interviews.
3- Continuing Your Career
1. Keep your license current. You will need to keep your license current throughout your career if you want to be an auto insurance agent. Requirements for renewing and maintaining your license vary by state. Make sure you know your state's specific requirements. Read over any paperwork you get regarding your license carefully. Take any exams or classes necessary to prevent your license from expiring.
2. Get comfortable working on commission. With very few exceptions, as an auto insurance agent you'll work on commission. Some companies provide a base salary in addition to commission, but it is generally very low.
- You cannot depend on this salary for your career. Also, an insurance company will not keep an agent around if he or she is not making sales. Make sure you keep up with any sales quotas your company requires.
- Keep in mind that you may have to work odd hours as an agent. You'll be working around the schedules of customers and clients. Be willing to tolerate an erratic schedule if it means making sales.
3. Seek out opportunities throughout your career. As you continue on your career, always be on the lookout for opportunities for advancement and promotion. While some people stay insurance agents for the longterm, many people go on to higher paid, higher profile positions as their career continues. Work hard and always be on the lookout for opportunities for growth and advancement.