How to Get an Insurance License

By Matt Smolsky , last updated July 8, 2011

Selling insurance can be a rewarding and exciting profession and there are a few things you need to know if you are wondering how to get an insurance license. You'll get to know a wide variety of people, helping them with their finances and protecting their property. But to sell insurance, you'll need a license.


There's no specific educational background required to get an insurance license. Technically, all you need is a high school diploma, or its equivalent. However, insurance is becoming increasingly complex, especially in the areas of health and life. Many more agents than in the past are coming into the business with college degrees, many with Masters in Business Administration. Certainly, if you aspire to be a sales manager or have a home office career with an insurance company, a college degree will give you a distinct advantage.

However, success in insurance is measured by the quality of sales you make. A quality sale is determined when you provide a client with a policy that's right for their needs. If it is, then the client will carry that coverage for a long period of time. If you have client's buying policies and then dropping them quickly in favor of other policies, that causes a great deal of administrative work for the insurance company. Plus, the client won't be paying premiums into the policy, which can impact the long term viability of the insurance company's products.

Many agents, in lieu of a college degree, get jobs in insurance brokerage firms handling paperwork, compliance issues and phone calls. They learn the business from the ground up and find mentors among the successful agents they work with. Still others have a natural sales ability, and insurance is simply another product that they are able to sell.

Regardless of what your education is, you do need to have an understanding of insurance. You'll be selling financial products that provide financial protection against illness, accidents, injury, natural disasters and death. People will be putting their trust in you and the company you sell insurance for. If you're simply looking to make money selling insurance, you'd be advised to seek another profession. Selling insurance requires a sincere concern for people and their financial and personal situations.


Once you have an understanding of the insurance business and what it entails, you need to study for your state's insurance licensing exam. Many insurance companies, as part of their agent recruitment, will offer pay for your study materials and test. You'll be required to sell for that company for a period of time. If you decide to pay for your own study materials a test, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars. There are a variety of study guides and services available online and in most communities.

For more information on how to study for your state’s exam, contact your state’s department of insurance, the Independent Insurance Agents of America, or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Also, the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research has a variety of courses for people who plan on being independent brokers.

Take your exam as soon as you are ready. Most study programs include sample tests that give a fair indication of what questions will be on the test. Once you pass the test, you will likely get a temporary license before you get your permanent license. Regardless, once you pass the exam, you are licensed to sell insurance.

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