Employment of insurance sales agents is projected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.
The insurance industry generally grows with the economy as a whole. Overall economic growth will continue to create demand for insurance policies. Direct online purchases of insurance are not expected to negatively affect employment of traditional sales agents, because they will continue to have a critical role in the insurance industry. Because the profitability of insurance companies depends on a steady stream of new customers, the demand for insurance sales agents is expected to continue. Employment growth should be strongest for independent sales agents, as insurance companies will rely more on brokerages and less on captive agents as a way to control costs.
Many clients do their own Internet research and get quotes from insurance companies online. Agents are still needed to interact with clients, however, and many people lack the time or expertise to study the different types of insurance to decide what they need. These clients will continue to rely on the advice from insurance sales agents.
Employment growth should be stronger for agents selling health and long-term care insurance. As the population ages over the next decade, demand will likely increase for packages that cover long-term care. In addition, federal regulation of health insurance is expected to bring many new customers into the market. Insurance companies will rely on sales agents to enroll people from this new customer base.
College graduates who have sales ability, excellent customer-service skills, and expertise in a range of insurance and financial services products should enjoy the best prospects. Multilingual agents should have an advantage, because they can serve a wider customer base. Additionally, insurance language is often technical, so agents who have a firm understanding of the relevant technical and legal terms should also be desirable to employers.
Many beginning agents fail to earn enough from commissions to meet their income goals and eventually transfer to other careers. Many job openings are likely to result from the need to replace agents who leave the occupation or retire.
Agents may face some competition from traditional securities brokers and bankers, who also sell insurance policies. Insurance sales agents will need to expand the products and services they offer as consolidation increases among insurance companies, banks, and brokerage firms and as demand increases from clients for more comprehensive financial planning.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition