Looks like, after years of decline, there is a bull market in insurance agent jobs, especially with the major mutual life insurance companies like Northwestern Mutual and New York Life. See "A Hot Job for Hard Times: The Life-Insurance Agent," The Wall Street Journal, 3/19/10.
This article notes that the aforementioned companies hired 2,340 and 3,618 agents, respectively, in 2009. A Texas-based startup named Insphere Insurance Solutions opened up shop in January with 2,00 agents and expects to double that number over the next 3 years.
What's driving this course reversal? Many investors who were burned or spooked in the recent bear market are fueling a resurgence in sales of whole life policies, which had been in longterm decline. The complexities of these products tend to require dedicated sales agents, and mutual life insurance companies tend to have higher standards of customer service than stockholder-owned insurers.
The article warns, however, that establishing yourself as a life insurance agent who earns 6 figures typically takes 5 years or so. About 70% of agents in their second year are making $35,000 or less.