Certification for Insurance Agents

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Insurance agents sell policies to help with auto accidents.
Insurance agents sell policies to help with auto accidents. (Image: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Insurance agents are required to be certified and licensed in all states, but the standards vary by state, as well as by the type of insurance product they work with. Insurance agents work with groups, companies and individuals to figure out the most suitable insurance policies for the particular client. Insurance agents may work for insurance companies or independently.

Certification

Insurance agents may earn their certification through a number of certification and designation programs jointly offered by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, or AICPCU, and the Insurance Institute of America, or IIA. The Certification in General Insurance is the most common program, covering fundamental insurance principles, as well as types of coverage. Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, or CPCU; Associate in Claims, or AIC; Associate in Insurance Services, or AIS; Accredited Adviser in Insurance, or AAI; and Associate in Personal Insurance, or API, are all other certification programs offered through these organizations (see Resources).

Licensing Requirements

Insurance agents are absolutely required to be licensed in all states. In certain cases, multiple licenses are required. For example, agents might need one license for property and casualty insurance, and another one for life and health insurance. States usually require agents to complete prelicensing coursework and a certain number of prelicensing class hours prior to taking the licensing exam. Agents aren't required to hold a degree; however, employers typically prefer applicants who have earned an associate or bachelor’s degree in business, economics, math, finance or accounting. Licensed agents need to earn continuing-education credits during their career to remain licensed.

Education

Special schools for insurance agent offer prelicensing courses, as do certain insurance companies, to prepare agents for their state certification. The AICPCU, IIA and the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research, or NAIER, also provide prelicensing courses and seminars. Courses for licensing and certification include commercial insurance, life and health, property and casualty, government regulations and liability.

Employment Outlook

The demand for employment in the insurance industry is predicted to increase much slower than that in other industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, even though the demand for insurance will continue to increase. Salary and wages for this position are expected to grow 3 percent from 2008 to 2018. Job and salary growth will be limited due to corporate downsizing, industry consolidation and productivity increases due to direct mail, Internet sales and telephone communications.

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