Certified Insurance Counselor Education Requirements and Career Info
A certified insurance counselor is an insurance professional who has completed a training program and received professional credentials. Candidates must have some experience in the insurance field to qualify for certification.
Career Information for Certified Insurance Counselors
Certified insurance counselors sell policies designed to protect clients' lives, possessions, property and well being. Their work involves helping individuals and businesses select insurance policies suited to their particular needs. Daily responsibilities include preparing reports and quotes, discussing new options for clients and meeting with prospective clients. Certified insurance counselors generally are employed full-time with insurance agencies or carriers, or they may work independently.
Due to their high level of training, certified insurance counselors often have better job opportunities than their non-certified counterparts. They also tend to utilize the latest technologies and the best customer service practices, which can help attract a wider clientele.
Like all insurance professionals, certified insurance counselors may be paid by salary, commission or both. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for insurance sales agents was $45,430 in May 2008, and the highest ten percent earned over $113,930 (www.bls.gov). Wages typically varied by education level and company size.
The road to becoming a certified insurance counselor typically starts with a bachelor's degree in business, economics, finance or a related subject. Curricula for these programs might include courses in mathematics, business administration, marketing, finance and insurance. Upon graduating, candidates often start in entry-level positions, such as customer service representative, before working as insurance sales agents.
All states require insurance agents and brokers to be licensed. Licensure requirements involve taking insurance-related classes and passing examinations, which may be offered through insurance associations or companies. After gaining experience, licensed insurance professionals can seek voluntary certification as insurance counselors through the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.
To qualify for certification, an individual must be a licensed insurance agent, broker, adjuster or other employee of an insurance company. Alternatively, the candidate may have a minimum of two years of full-time experience in the insurance industry or as an insurance instructor in an accredited school. Agency owners, experienced agents, customer service representatives, underwriters, managers and other experienced personnel may also be eligible to enroll in a certification program.
The certification process involves completing five institutes or modules, each consisting of two and a half days of classroom instruction on insurance-related topics. Each institute is followed by a 2-hour examination. Candidates must take all five institutes and pass all five exams within five calendar years of their first exam to be awarded the designation. To maintain certification status, certified insurance counselors must complete one continuing education program every year, which often satisfies states' continuing education requirements for licensure as well.
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