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An insurance agent helps individuals obtain the most appropriate policies for life, health, and property insurance, among others. He or she might be employed by an insurance company, actively engaging in consultations and sales, or work independently as a broker, examining insurance plans from multiple providers to help a person choose the right one. An individual who wants to become an insurance agent does not always need a college degree, though many companies give preference to candidates with post-high school educational experience in business administration finance, or economics. In addition, new agents are required to pass written licensing exams administered by their specific country or state.
A person who hopes to become an insurance agent can obtain a fundamental understanding of the business by taking high school and college courses in economics and business. Since modern insurance offices usually rely on computers to calculate policies and communicate with clients, it is essential for prospective agents to become familiar with the Internet and popular word processing and spreadsheet computer applications. Many students choose to gain valuable customer service experience by working at retail stores, hotels, or other facilities where employees deal directly with the public. Extensive sales experience prepares an individual for the fast paced, often difficult task of selling insurance to companies and individuals.
Many hopeful insurance agents find entry level employment at insurance companies as administrative assistants and clerks. While working at such jobs, individuals are able to learn the basics of the insurance industry and create professional relationships with established agents and other professionals in the business. Employers often recognize the abilities of a skilled entry level worker and may offer him or her the opportunity to become an insurance agent with the company.
In most countries, an individual must pass extensive licensing examinations to become an insurance agent. Licensing exams are regulated by the state or country where the individual intends on practicing. Many localities encourage prospective agents to pass training courses to prepare them for licensing tests. A person is often required to pass a series of exams that measure his or her understanding of basic job procedures, insurance laws and regulations, ethics, and confidentiality. After passing exams, an individual can officially become an insurance agent and look for work in the business.
Many new agents train under the supervision of experienced professionals for a certain period of time, learning the specific practices and procedures of the company. A trainee who shows enough competence may be allowed to sell basic policies. With time and proven aptitude for the job, an agent is granted the opportunity to begin working independently.
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