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How to Become a Real Estate or Insurance Agent for a Career

Updated on March 25, 2012

Changing careers is always traumatic and never easy. Looming in the back of your mind is that dark cloud-what if this does not work out? What about the wasted time and money? Only time will tell if the newly selected career is a good fit for you.

Becoming either a real estate agent or an insurance agent requires a lot of patience, outlay of money for education and state exams for a license, time mining for clients and sales ALL without any income being generated. How long? At minimum, three months, but expect it to be more like six months or more. Thus, before you select either as a career, make sure you have saving sufficient for that length of time.

For either career, one must attend schools in person or online, each requires so many hours for completion. Once the course is completed and passed, you then must take the state exam online at a designated site, pay fees for the exam and fingerprints and pass it. For insurance, most companies want you to have auto and home license, then, life license before they put you into a Reserve Agent status. The costs for one license is: $192 for license, $70 for fingerprints, $35-70 for exam. If you fail the exam, you can retake it and pay the fees.

Real Estate is similar in costs. The schools online vary in prices, but expect at least $100 or more for them and make sure they are state approved. Once you get either license, you then must find a company to be an agent with. In RE, the agent works for a RE Broker and must find houses to list and sell, or sell houses already listed earning less commission than those you list and sell. Whatever you sell, the broker will also get a percentage. Commissions range from 2-5%. You may go six months before you sell anything.

In insurance, you sell policies earning on average 10-15% on each. You have phone lists that you pay for which provide potential customers of those truly interested in buying some sort of insurance. Your big money comes when you sell several policies for a single household and do this over and over again. For example, a house has two cars-sell two auto policies, which average $500 yr. Then, sell home insurance-another $600 year, then life insurance for family members- another few hundred. Each policy you will get a 10-15% commission.

Insurance agents average 12-14 appointments a month and try to sell at least 10-14 sales (20-25 policies). The first year, you will be lucky to earn $24K from new business and renewals, the 2nd year this will jump to $45K (new business and renewals), the 3rd year $76K. So, the first year need another income or use your savings to get by. Insurance agents get income from new business accounts and renewals from those sold years ago. To get to $76K a year, agents need to sell at least 40 policies (23 auto, 13 home + 4 life) every month. Basically, sell policies after any meeting with new clients.

Which is best to switch to? Hard to tell.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello perrya. This is an interesting question. It's an age-old war between selling tangibles and intangibles. Here's a hub a wrote about this:

      Tell me what you think. :)

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago

      Is selling a house or insurance policies easier, the same?

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I've worked with insurance and real estate agents for around a decade now. I must say that selling is the hardest job if you do not have the heart for it. however, it is the highest paying job if you truly have the aptitude for it.