Insurance is an important risk management tool that can help provide financial protection for the most important assets in our lives. While insurance is key for protecting our homes, cars, and businesses, the topic of insurance can be both arcane and confusing. Insurance agents can help consumers and businesses understand and select insurance coverage that is appropriate for them. Being an insurance agent is a rewarding career that promotes stability and peace of mind.
To become an insurance agent, most states require agents to pass an exam and apply for a license. In this study, we highlight some attractive cities for insurance agents to consider as they decide where to pursue their careers.
Our analysis found that many Southern and Midwestern cities with high concentrations of financial services employers were attractive places for insurance agents to pursue their careers. Many of these cities offered low costs of living, high concentrations of insurance jobs, and attractive salaries.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we ranked 343 of the largest U.S. cities for their attractiveness to insurance agents. We list the top 50 cities where insurance agents can successfully pursue their careers. In our study, we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for insurance agents in the United States.
Best Cities for Insurance Agents and Brokers
1. Birmingham, AL
As the biggest city in Alabama by population, Birmingham is an important Southern regional hub. The city, which is named after Birmingham, England, was an important industrial center for the South from its founding through the 1960s, with major iron and steel production facilities. After the 1960s, Birmingham diversified its economy, with banking being a leading industry in the city. Several major financial services employers include Regions Financial, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama, BBVA Compass, Wells Fargo, Protective Life Corporation, and State Farm.
Birmingham has plentiful jobs for insurance agents, with 73% more jobs for insurance agents compared with the average American city. Those agents can expect to earn average annual salaries of $95,630, a healthy 40% above average. Birmingham also offers a low cost of living that is 16% below the national average. The combination of these three factors makes Birmingham the best city for insurance agents.
2. Saginaw, MI
Saginaw, located in Central Michigan, was an important lumber town in the 1800s, and in the 1900s, it was an important auto and industrial manufacturing center. The city, which is located along the Saginaw River, once hosted multiple General Motors plants and was also an important base for military production during World War II. Today, one of the major insurance employers in the city is Frankenmuth Insurance.
Insurance agents in Saginaw earn an average salary of $91,880, 35% above the national average salary. Additionally, Saginaw has the 8th lowest cost of living in our study, with a cost 21% below the average city. Saginaw offers 10% more jobs for insurance agents than the average American city.
3. Des Moines, IA
Located in the center of the state, Des Moines is the capital city and the largest city in the state of Iowa. The city’s growth started with coal mining in the late 1800s, and the city later grew through industrialization. After the 1980s, the city transformed into a white-collar, professional city. Today, Des Moines hosts several major financial services firms including the Principal Financial Group, Marsh, Wells Fargo, Voya Financial, and Nationwide Insurance.
The average salary for insurance agents in Des Moines is $72,930, which is 7% above the national average. In addition, the cost of living in Des Moines is 10% below the national average. Des Moines also has plenty of job opportunities for insurance agents, with 139% more jobs for insurance agents than the national average per capita.
4. Jackson, MS
Jackson, Mississippi is the capital city and the most populous city in the state of Mississippi. The city is located on the Pearl River and named after President Andrew Jackson. In the early 1900s, multiple railroads expanded service into Jackson, leading to economic growth. In the 1930s, natural gas was discovered near the city, which led to even more economic development.
Insurance agents in Jackson earn an average salary of $88,330, which is 30% above the national average. Not only do agents earn high salaries in the city, but they also enjoy a cost of living that is 13% below the national average. Jackson also hosts 27% more insurance agent jobs per capita than the average city. Trustmark is a major financial services employer in the city that contributes to insurance agent employment.
5. Grand Island, NE
Grand Island is the largest city in Nebraska outside of the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas. The city is located slightly east and south of the center of the state and was founded by German settlers from Iowa. The city’s growth was catalyzed by the opening of a Union Pacific railroad station in 1868.
Today, insurance agents in Grand Island earn an average salary of $75,280, which is 11% above the national average compensation. In addition, residents of Grand Island benefit from the city’s 12% below-average cost of living. Grand Island also has 66% more jobs for insurance agents per capita than the average U.S. city. One of the major employers of insurance agents in the city is the Principal Financial Group.
Top Cities for Insurance Agents by City Size
Our study segmented cities into different sizes based upon population. Since individuals may have different preferences regarding the type of city they’d like to live in, we list the top small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for insurance agents.
Top 50 Cities for Insurance Agents
Below, we list the top 50 cities for insurance agents. Additionally, we show the total number of jobs for insurance agents, along with the average salary, location quotient, cost of living, and the size of the city.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|3||Des Moines, IA||Large||$72,930||2,400||2.39||90|
|5||Grand Island, NE||Small||$75,280||190||1.66||88|
|17||La Crosse, WI||Small||$82,460||210||1||91|
|19||Sioux Falls, SD||Midsize||$76,430||620||1.46||98|
|20||Green Bay, WI||Midsize||$67,520||770||1.62||92|
|23||South Bend, IN||Midsize||$70,610||420||1.15||84|
|26||Fond du Lac, WI||Small||$75,560||130||1.06||88|
|30||St. Joseph, MO||Small||$74,680||140||0.95||85|
|39||Homosassa Springs, FL||Small||$68,190||120||1.33||91|
|42||Kansas City, MO||Large||$67,890||3,950||1.37||94|
|48||Great Falls, MT||Small||$53,130||180||1.9||95|
|49||San Antonio, TX||Large||$64,180||3,500||1.27||89|
|50||Little Rock, AR||Large||$63,420||1,160||1.23||87|
AdvisorSmith’s study weighed several variables in determining the best cities for insurance agents.
1. Average annual compensation for insurance agents
Our study used data from the U.S. BLS Occupational Employment Statistics data set. We considered the average annual salaries that insurance agents in each city were paid. Cities with higher salaries scored more highly in our study.
Within the entire United States, the average salary for insurance agents was $67,890. The job outlook for insurance agents is good, as the BLS expects that employment in the field will grow by 10% in the period 2016-2026, which is faster than job growth in the economy overall.
2. Cost of living index for each city
Our study also adjusted the salaries earned in each city by a cost of living index in order to equalize comparisons across cities. Since the cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, can vary across different cities, it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with a lower cost of living were ranked more highly in our study.
3. Location quotient for insurance agents
The location quotient measures the availability of jobs for insurance agents in a given city relative to the total number of jobs in the city. Cities with a higher location quotient have a higher concentration of jobs for insurance agents, which means there are more career opportunities for insurance agents in the city. Cities with higher location quotients ranked more highly in our study of the best cities for insurance agents.
In 2018, there were 393,830 insurance agents employed in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index