Advice for Aspiring Insurance Professionals

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 7, 2019
Aspiring insurance agent

Making the decision to enter the insurance industry is not a career move to be made lightly. We recently sat down with David Gorecki, who has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry and 10 years of experience as a Kaplan instructor, to ask him what advice he has for aspiring insurance agents

Q. What skills do you think someone needs to have a successful career in insurance?

A. It is important for a person in this industry to realize that insurance is a career – not a job. It is going to be a rough 3-5 years to build up a book of clients. A clock puncher will not be successful in this industry. A career does not have a time clock. It’s a 24/7 job and you should want to do all that needs to be done in order to be successful. It is important to think of this career as climbing a mountain for the first 3-5 years. You will hit some steep points before you hit the top of the mountain. Once you hit the top of the mountain, you will have built up clients that continually bring in renewals. It is quite a journey to get there though.

It is important for people to do a personal assessment and find out whether sales will be a career they enjoy. This list of characteristics needed to be a successful insurance agent can help you make that determination. No one should enter this career without a great deal of understanding for what they are getting into. Interviewing veterans in the industry will help a prospective insurance professional get a realistic picture of the job and whether it would be a good fit. 

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Q. What are the main career paths for someone getting an insurance license?

A. There are two main paths: become a multi-line insurance agent, either a broker for multiple agencies or captive for one agency, or become a financial advisor. With insurance, the focus is on protecting people. With investment, the focus is on making someone more money. Some insurance firms will have agents get their life, accident, and health license on day one so they are trained to sell life insurance first. Then they will require securities licenses later. Other firms that focus on investment will have you get all your licenses before you can start.

One of the biggest fears going into this industry is commission sales. I tell the students that there are two ways to get paid: one is for someone to decide how much you’re worth (salary) and the other is to decide what you’re worth (commission). You have to understand that and how to deal with commission to make it in this industry.

Q. What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about pursuing a career in insurance?

A. The best thing anyone can do is go talk to three insurance industry veterans and interview them. Ask them not only the broad questions like ‘why did you choose this career?’ but the hidden questions like ‘how long did you struggle?’ ‘How poor were you when you started your career?’ ‘How many times did you want to quit in your first year?’ ‘How did you cope with rejection?’ I make students do this all the time. When I worked in the industry, I would always have new employees interview veterans in my office. It’s the best way to get a realistic job preview.

Also, interview the company that wants to hire you. Don’t let them just interview you – interview them too. You have to understand that the interviewing process is a two-way street. It is a good sign when companies ask prospective employees to do pre-job requirements, create marketing systems, and go out and talk with industry veterans. It shows that they care about finding the right people for their jobs.


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David Gorecki started teaching insurance, securities, and CE classes for Kaplan Professional Education in 2005. Previously, he spent 35 years in the financial services industry. David held various management positions for 18 of those years with both insurance and investment companies. He received his psychology degree from DePaul University in Chicago and currently manages 60 classroom instructors who teach insurance licensing courses.


Free eBook: Launching Your Insurance Career with Confidence

As an aspiring insurance professional, wouldn’t it be great if you could sit down with a room full of successful insurance veterans and ask them for their advice? The Kaplan Financial Education team interviewed over 100 insurance professionals to develop this exclusive eBook for those who are considering the insurance industry.