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How to Become an
Independent Insurance Agent

Dasha Castillo
By Dasha Castillo - Content Writer
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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Becoming an independent insurance agent may be an ideal career if you’re a talented and analytical professional with a passion for the insurance industry. This role offers a flexible lifestyle while helping people choose insurance coverage based on their needs. This guide features education criteria, training and salary information to jumpstart your career.

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What Does an Independent Insurance Agent Do?

An independent insurance agent finds sales opportunities for insurance plans. They work with multiple insurance companies to identify the best quotes for their clients.

Independent insurance agents aim to provide clients with broader policy options within property, life, health, business and long-term care insurance. Their income may be commission-based, so the goal is to expand their client base and provide quality service.

Their duties and responsibilities include:

  • Expand customer base.

  • Independent insurance agents work to contact potential clients to bring in new customers.

  • Understand clients' needs.

  • Independent insurance agents interview new or prospective clients to understand their existing coverage, financial resources and insurance needs.

  • Explain policies and help clients choose insurance.

  • Establish a collaborative relationship with clients.

  • Distribute policy and process claims.

  • Assess risk management and apply strategies that fit clients' risk profiles.

  • Handle policy renewals.

How Do You Become an Insurance Agent

Starting a career as an independent insurance agent can be a lucrative and rewarding opportunity. Independent agents have greater flexibility because they work with more than one insurance company. If you are interested in becoming an independent insurance agent, follow these steps:


Consider your education.

Although there are no specific education requirements to become an independent insurance agent, almost all have a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree will also significantly improve your job prospects, especially if you have studied business-related subjects such as economics, finance, business, mathematics, accounting, marketing, statistics or business administration.


Decide which insurance products you will sell.

Many commercial and personal insurance policies exist. Commercial insurance agents focus on providing coverage to businesses and commercial property. At the same time, personal lines of insurance emphasize coverage for motor vehicles, home insurance, and life insurance for individuals and families.


State license requirements.

Once you narrow down which type of insurance you specialize in, you can choose the appropriate license. License names vary depending on the state you live in. Each state has specific licensing requirements. The most common types of licenses include:


Pass the insurance license exam.

Requirements will vary by state. You must complete a pre-licensing class that can be taken online or in person. Once completed, check for any pre-exam requirements for your state. Then you will need to schedule your official licensing exam from an insurance company.


Create a job-winning resume.

Every job search starts with creating a high-quality resume that can demonstrate that you are qualified. Because a well-written resume will make a difference in whether you land the job, check out our online resources complete with licensed insurance agent resume examples and templates, to help you create an impressive resume.

If you don’t know where to start, check out Resume Builder, with interactive tools and pre-written, job-specific content to help you tell your professional independent insurance agent story. The builder enables you to show off your most marketable relevant skills and experience to demonstrate the benefits you offer as an advocate to employers.

Independent Insurance Agent Skills

The ideal independent insurance agent is enthusiastic about what they do and skilled at working with people. They need to be an excellent salesperson, confident and trustworthy. Because they often work on their own and make a schedule around the needs of their clients, they should be flexible and dependable. They should also be disciplined and self-motivated since they often work without direct oversight.

Soft skills:

1Analytical skills to understand and solve complex situations.
2Problem-solving is critical when handling unexpected challenges.
3Time management is essential for optimizing productivity.
4Decision-making skills help identify risks and possible outcomes.
5Interpersonal skills help you interact effectively with others.
6Work ethics establish integrity and honesty in the workplace.
7Strong analytical skills to evaluate the characteristics and needs of clients to determine the appropriate insurance policy.

Hard skills:

1Financial planning in a range of financial services and sales.
2Mathematical skills give you the ability to understand and analyze information.
3Computer skills increase productivity and career advancement.
4Customer service is key for loyalty and improves customer satisfaction.
5Negotiation skills make you a better strategizer and help you achieve career success.
6Ability to maintain records and prepare reports.
7Up-to-date knowledge of government benefits programs, tax laws and insurance regulations.

Insights from an Independent Insurance Agent

To provide you with some insider knowledge of how to become an Independent Insurance Agent, we talked to Anthony Martin, owner and operator of Choice Mutual, a nationwide independent life insurance agency. Here’s what he told us.

What is the common career path for an Independent Insurance Agent? 

I would say the most common career path for an independent agent is to specialize in a specific line of insurance. Instead of trying to be a jack of all trades (life, health, auto, home, life, etc.), most independent agents I have heard of, read about, and come across are ones who specialize in specific line of insurance and become really good at that particular niche.

What should someone consider before becoming an Independent Insurance Agent? 

First, decide if you are going specialize and focus on a specific line of insurance versus trying to sell all of it. Second, and most importantly, consider what your marketing strategy will be. You must develop a plan that puts you in touch with prospects who might want or need the lines of insurance you are planning on selling.

What type of person excels in this job? 

Honestly, being an independent agent is not for the meek. Furthermore, it takes a highly disciplined entrepreneurial type individual to make it work. You work for yourself, so you must decide each and every day that you are going to hit the pavement. A person must understand and appreciate the concept of investing time and resources with no guaranteed payoff. You have to be willing to put in much time and money without knowing how it will turn out. Ultimately, it takes a very disciplined, coachable, hardworking person to produce success at being an independent insurance agent. Without these qualities, there is zero chance for success.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being an Independent Insurance Agent? 

The most rewarding part of being an Independent Agent is the combination of limitless earning potential and value we present our clients. It's the perfect marriage of benefits for both parties. An Independent Agent can unequivocally better serve a person's insurance needs compared to a captive insurance company. In addition, there is no limit to how many customers you can acquire, or how big you can grow your agency. It's a win-win all around. Where else can you start a business that has zero inventory, delivers massive value to clients who needs your products, and gives you the entrepreneur the ability to scale it as large as you could possible dream of?

How Much Do Independent Insurance Agent Get Paid?

Most Independent Insurance Agents are paid by commission, meaning there is a large range of wages in the field. The median annual wage for all insurance sales agents is $48,200. The lowest earning 10 percent make less than $26,330 a year, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $122,590.

Top 10 States for Independent Insurance Agent Salary

Insurance Agents, including independent Insurance Agents, in the following states make the highest median annual wages in the U.S.

    New York




    Rhode Island




    New Jersey








    North Dakota




    Independent Insurance Agent Resources

    If you’re looking for more information on becoming an Independent Insurance Agent, here are some additional resources to help you in your career search.

    On the Web

    Insurance sales expert Brent Kelly shares his experience and expertise in this blog.

    Insurance Thought Leadership
    This blog brings in some of the brightest minds in insurance to share their experience, tips and tricks.

    Independent Agent Magazine
    IA is the number one source of information for Independent Insurance Agents, with insight and analysis on critical trends and tools to help them sell efficiently and effectively.

    Industry Groups

    Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America
    This is a national alliance of more than a quarter million Independent Insurance Agents and their employees, offering education, advocacy and news.

    National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
    PIA is a great source for news and resources, and also provides networking opportunities.

    ISU Insurance Agency Network
    The ISU Insurance Agency Network is an organization just for independent insurance agents. It offers a cohesive national database of insurance knowledge.

    Independent Insurance Agent Books

    How To Build An Independent Insurance Agents Business (Special Edition): The Only Book You Need To Launch, Grow & Succeed
    This guide will tell you all you need to know to launch your own Independent Insurance business.

    The Complete Dictionary of Insurance Terms Explained Simply
    This handy guide explains the complicated and confusing terms used in insurance in jargon-free language, and is a great resource when studying for licensing exams.