Life insurance agents can have unlimited earning potential thanks to commissions. While the average salary falls around $70,000 per year in the United States, several factors affect that number, including location, experience, and sales performance. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the life insurance agent, to determine how much you make.
The life insurance agent is the highest-earning agent in the entire insurance industry. If you’re looking to sell insurance and maximize your income, starting a career in life insurance is a good idea. Moreover, life insurance agents help people achieve peace of mind about their financial future.
How much do life insurance agents make? There’s a lot that goes into the answer to that question. Read on to learn what determines the earnings of a life insurance agent and how you can maximize them.
How much money do life insurance agents make?
When entering a new career, it’s good to get an idea of how much money you could make. Salary reporting sites like Zippia and ZipRecruiter can help us understand life insurance agent salaries. However, it’s important to approach these critically and research several sources, as the numbers may be less than accurate. Based on salary reports from these two sites, the national average life insurance agent’s salary is between $62,500 and $83,500.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average salary of almost $50,000 for general insurance sales agents in 2021. Life insurance agents typically make the most money out of all insurance agents. So it’s safe to assume the median salary for a life insurance agent in 2023 will be higher, around $73,000 per year.
Factors that influence life insurance agent salaries
Life insurance agents play a crucial role in helping individuals and families protect their financial futures. We know from the top salary reporting sites that they can make good salaries, too — an average of around $73,000 annually.
However, this value represents the entire industry across the whole country. Salaries — including those of life insurance agents — vary widely depending on a few key factors.
Insurance agents who have been in the industry for a long time often earn higher salaries. Their knowledge and expertise gained through their career make them more valuable, so they get paid more. Life insurance agents with 10+ years of experience can make $85,000 to $100,000 or more yearly, depending on their performance and location.
Everyone has to start somewhere. If committing that much time and making that much money as a life insurance agent sounds appealing, start now!
Compensation structure and sales performance
Life insurance agents commonly take home a significant chunk of their earnings from sales commissions. Commissions offer the opportunity for both captive and independent life insurance agents to control and scale their earnings. Not every insurance company, however, offers compensation this way. Four main payment structures may determine the earning potential for life insurance agents.
- Commission only (residual or upfront)
- Commission and salary
- Salary only
- Salary plus bonus
As a life insurance agent, sales metrics will be an essential measure of your success, and commissions are generally the reward for that success. Agents who consistently meet or exceed their sales targets can maximize their bonuses and commissions, significantly increasing their overall earnings.
Quick fact: What are commissions?
Sales commissions are payments to salespeople for making a sale, usually a percentage of the sale price. It’s a way to motivate salespeople to sell more and make more money for the company. Think of it as a reward for their hard work in making sales. Insurance agents can make from 5% to 80% commissions on insurance premiums. In 2021, life insurance companies paid agents $51 billion in commissions!
Type of insurance
There are dozens of types of life insurance out there that offer different types of protection. As a life insurance agent, the kind of life insurance policy you specialize in can affect your salary. For example, agents who focus on selling high-value policies, such as whole life or variable universal life insurance, may earn higher commissions than those who sell term life insurance.
Company size and success
The size and reputation of an insurance company will play a role in your salary as a life insurance agent. Life insurance agents working for larger, more established companies often earn higher wages and have access to more comprehensive benefits packages.
When searching for a life insurance company to work for, exploring from the perspective of a potential customer can help. Look at their reviews, insurance offerings, and reach of services. Higher quality and more successful companies are likely to offer higher salaries.
Pro tip: “Make a customer, not a sale.”
Success as a life insurance agent is primarily up to you. Here’s some professional advice to help you on your way.
As a life insurance agent, then, it can be helpful to refer back to retail queen Katherine Barchetti’s brilliant quote, “Make a customer, not a sale.”
Geographic location is among the most prominent factors affecting salary in all career fields. The cost of living and demand for insurance in a particular region also impact a life insurance agent’s earnings. In general, agents working in larger cities or areas with high demand for insurance may earn higher salaries than those working in smaller towns or less competitive markets.
Top 10 highest-paying states for life insurance agents
Are you interested in a career as a life insurance agent and curious about where the best-paying jobs are? Whether you’re a seasoned agent looking for a new career opportunity or just someone curious about the industry, let’s dive into the top most lucrative states (and average salaries) for life insurance agents.
Expert take: Is being a life insurance agent a good career path?
We asked expert career coach Eva Chan why being a life insurance agent might make a desirable career path. As you just read, she considers this career a good fit for people who value autonomy, are self-motivated, and are good at working with others. She also points out three other major benefits of a career in life insurance.
- Salary: “As an entry-level insurance agent, you can expect your salary to fall somewhere between $35,000 — $45,000. However, on top of that, you’ll make money from commissions which can contribute greatly to your overall earnings.”
- Growth opportunities: “As you gain experience and establish your reputation, there’s excellent potential for growth, especially if you specialize in a specific area and get certified.”
- Job stability: “Insurance is a key aspect of personal and business risk management, making the demand for insurance products and services relatively stable. People and businesses will always need insurance coverage, providing a consistent market for insurance agents.”
Is it hard to make money as a life insurance agent?
A life insurance agent holds a job much like any other. Being naturally inclined to enjoy the job and strive toward improvement can make the work feel effortless. Commission-only jobs, such as some life insurance agent jobs, can be challenging because your pay depends on how many sales you get. On the other hand, it’s easier to scale your salary quickly with no cap on your earnings.
Is selling life insurance a good career opportunity?
Selling life insurance is a great career opportunity for those interested. There are good growth and earning potentials, and it allows you the opportunity to help people protect themselves and their families’ financial future.
Is selling life insurance a good way to make money?
Selling life insurance can be an excellent way to make money if you can meet and exceed sales goals. The average salary for life insurance agents in the U.S. is around $70,000. Bonuses and commissions earned from life insurance sales may increase your income significantly.
Can you become a millionaire being a life insurance agent?
Yes! You can become a millionaire being a life insurance agent if you are willing to put in the time, planning, and work. A top agent can earn a million dollars by maximizing all the factors discussed in this article.
- The average life insurance agent salary in the United States is between $62,500 and $83,500. Commissions and bonuses offer the opportunity to increase these earnings indefinitely.
- The five main factors that influence life insurance agent earnings are experience, pay structure and sales performance, type of insurance, company size and success, and location.
- Alaska has the highest average life insurance agent salary in the U.S. — approximately $124,000. It’s followed by the other high-earning states of Washington, Oregon, and New Hampshire.
No sure if life insurance is the industry for you?
Take the next step in exploring career options! SuperMoney is here to help. Check out how much mortgage brokers make to see one alternative.
View Article Sources
- About Eva Chan, CPRW — ResumeGenius & ResumeGenius Facebook
- About Us — Wrkspot
- ACLI Factbook, Chapter 5: Expenditures — American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI)
- How Much Money Do Insurance Agents Make? — America’s Professor
- Insurance agent salary in Fort Worth, TX — Indeed
- Life Insurance Agent Salary — Zippia & Zip Recruiter
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Insurance Sales Agents — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
In addition to these external sources, readers may find multiple links to helpful SuperMoney pages in the article above.