CAREER PATHWAYS

Looking for the perfect job?
Explore our Career Guides!

Read More

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

By Ajoke Aminu

Published:

Are you feeling stuck on your journey to becoming a real estate agent?

The potential for financial stability and career success is at your fingertips, but you don’t know how to take the first steps. Considering that the real estate industry is booming, our comprehensive article will reveal the necessary skills and knowledge to unlock how to become a real estate agent, and secure a lucrative career!

Career Summary

How much do Real Estate Agents make?

Real Estate Agent Salary

Real estate agents make a decent living, with earnings that can go as high as $100,000 a year! And that’s not even including commission-based earnings. With real estate, the harder you work and the more sales you make, the higher your paycheck will be.

Here is a trajectory of real estate agent earnings:

  • Entry Salary (US$115k)
  • Median Salary (US$198k)
  • Executive Salary (US$268k)

This wage falls into the high-income category in comparison to the average income of US citizens.

What is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent, commonly known as a real estate broker, is an individual who acts as an intermediary for either sellers or buyers in real estate transactions involving real property. While brokers operate independently, agents typically function under the guidance of a licensed broker to represent their clients.

Real Estate Agent Career Progression

  • Real Estate Agent: Commence your journey by acquiring a real estate license and establishing a foundational comprehension of the industry.
  • Real Estate Broker: Progress to the role of a licensed real estate broker after accumulating experience and fulfilling further educational criteria. This designation empowers you to function autonomously and oversee other agents.
  • Broker-Owner: Establish your personal real estate brokerage and lead a team of agents under your guidance
  • Real Estate Consultant: Transition into consulting roles, extending your adept advice to clients and professionals within the industry.
  • Real Estate Developer: Shift into property development, leveraging your industry acumen to oversee the creation and management of real estate projects.
Real Estate Agent Career Progression

Pros:

  • Commission-based earnings mean that successful agents can have higher income potential.
  • The real estate industry offers diverse experiences, from working with different clients to exploring various property types.
  • Real estate agents can operate independently, build their brands, and potentially establish their own brokerages.
  • Agents have the satisfaction of guiding clients through significant life decisions, such as buying or selling properties.

Cons:

  • The commission-based structure can lead to inconsistent earnings, especially during slower market periods.
  • Navigating negotiations between parties with differing interests can be complex and stressful.
  • Real estate is influenced by market fluctuations, which can impact job stability.
  • The industry is competitive, with numerous agents vying for clients and listings.

Necessary Skills to Have as a Real Estate Agent

  • Negotiation Skills
  • Marketing and Sales Skills
  • Client Relationship Management
  • Market Analysis
  • Tech Savviness

Popular Real Estate Agent Specialties

  • Residential Real Estate
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Luxury Real Estate
  • Investment Properties
  • Property Management

How to become a Real Estate Agent

Real Estate Agent 5 Steps to Career

Real estate agents must have a passion for homes and a desire to help others find their dream home or property. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a background in real estate or education in related fields because we have all the answers you need in this article. Step out of your comfort zone and explore the possibility of a fulfilling career in real estate in this article!

Easy Steps To Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Many aspiring realtors often wonder, “Do I need a degree to become a Real Estate Agent?” Well, you typically do not need a degree to become a real estate agent in the United States. Unlike many traditional professions that require a college degree, becoming a real estate agent involves completing specific education requirements, passing a licensing exam, and meeting other state-specific criteria.

However, it is relevant if job seekers still choose to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in finance, business administration, or related fields. Choosing any of these programs can make all the difference in the job market–as some real estate agent job descriptions make having a degree a requirement.

Regardless, the conventional steps to becoming a real estate agent are as follows:

Choose a State-Approved Online Provider

Start by selecting a state-approved education provider that offers pre-licensing courses for real estate agents. Ensure that the provider is recognized and accepted by your state’s real estate regulatory authority.

Complete Pre-Licensing Education

Enroll in the pre-licensing course and complete the required number of hours of education as mandated by your state. The duration and content of the course may vary based on state requirements.

Take and Pass the Licensing Exam

After completing the pre-licensing education, you will be eligible to take the real estate licensing exam. The exam is usually administered by a testing center approved by your state. Once you pass the exam, you can proceed with the next steps in obtaining your real estate license.

Submit License Application and Other Requirements

Following the successful completion of the exam, submit your license application and fulfill any additional state-specific requirements, such as background checks or fingerprinting.

Affiliate with a Real Estate Brokerage

Upon obtaining your license, you will need to affiliate with a licensed real estate brokerage to legally practice as a real estate agent. Many brokerages also offer online onboarding and training for newly licensed agents.

A Suitable Profile for Real Estate Agents—Expert or Beginner

Becoming a successful real estate agent takes more than having a silver tongue and flashing a charming smile. Neither is it about attending an Ivy League school nor becoming a master of calculus. You just need to have the right profile to back it up—it’s all about having the perfect mix of education, experience, and most importantly, license(s). A degree in business or finance can definitely give you a leg up in the game, but don’t underestimate the value of hands-on experience either.

Thus, whether you’re a fresh-faced graduate or a seasoned veteran looking to switch careers, remember that a suitable profile for a real estate agent is all about finding the right balance between book smarts and street smarts.

Examples of Real Estate Licenses in the United States

A real estate license is an official authorization granted by a state’s regulatory authority, typically a real estate commission or board, that allows individuals to legally engage in real estate-related activities within that state. Holding a real estate license is a requirement for individuals who want to work as real estate agents, brokers, or other professionals in the real estate industry.

Examples include:

  • Real Estate Salesperson License
  • Real Estate Broker License
  • Real Estate Appraiser License
  • Property Manager License

Why Obtaining a License is Important for a Real Estate Agent

Becoming a licensed real estate agent ensures that you have the necessary knowledge and training to properly guide your clients through the buying and selling process. From staying up-to-date on market trends to mastering legal jargon, licensed agents are equipped to handle any situation thrown at them.

So, if you want to ensure a seamless experience for your clients, obtaining a license is an absolute must for these other reasons:

  • Legal Requirement: In most states in the United States, it is illegal to practice as a real estate agent without a valid license. Real estate transactions involve significant financial and legal implications, and licensing ensures that agents have met the necessary education and competency standards to protect the public interest.
  • Credibility and Professionalism: Having a license adds credibility to a real estate agent’s profile. It demonstrates that they have completed the required education, passed a state-administered exam, and met other licensing criteria. Clients are more likely to trust and work with licensed agents because it assures them of the agent’s professionalism and commitment to the profession.
  • Legal Protection: A licensed real estate agent has a better understanding of state laws and regulations governing real estate transactions. This knowledge helps them navigate legal complexities, minimize potential liabilities, and protect their clients’ interests throughout the buying or selling process.
  • Access to MLS and Real Estate Associations: Many Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and real estate associations only allow licensed agents to access and list properties on their platforms. MLS access is vital for agents as it provides a comprehensive database of properties for sale, facilitating efficient property searches for clients.
  • Client Confidence: License requirements often include ethical and professional conduct standards. Clients feel more confident working with licensed agents, knowing that they are held accountable to uphold these standards.
  • Market Knowledge and Expertise: The education and training required for licensing provide real estate agents with essential market knowledge, negotiation skills, and an understanding of real estate principles. This expertise allows them to provide valuable advice and assistance to clients throughout the buying or selling process.
  • Networking and Professional Development: Licensing often requires agents to complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses. These courses help agents stay updated with industry trends, legal changes, and best practices, contributing to their professional development and ability to serve clients effectively.
  • Access to Exclusive Opportunities: Some real estate opportunities may only be available to licensed agents. For example, developers, banks, and institutions often prefer to work with licensed agents for their real estate transactions.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent?

Getting a real estate license is a fulfilling process that allows you to help people find the perfect property for their needs. The time it takes to get licensed in real estate varies, but on average, it takes about three to six months. Before that, you are required to gain pre-license education, entailing 40 to 150 hours plus of formal education.

Other factors that can affect the timeline include:

  • State’s licensing requirements.
  • Your availability to complete the necessary steps.
  • The speed of processing by the state regulatory authority.

If you are eager to become a real estate agent, you should know some states allow you to apply for a license from as young as 19 years old! So, go ahead, take that leap of faith and start the journey towards becoming a licensed real estate agent.

Real Estate Agent License Costs

On average, real estate agent license costs range from anywhere around US$400 to US$2,000 for pre-licensing education and testing, plus an application fee and background check, depending on the state and education provider. It’s essential to research the specific licensing requirements and associated costs in your state to plan your budget accordingly.

A breakdown of the costs looks like this:

  • Pre-Licensing Education: The cost of pre-licensing education can vary depending on the state and the education provider you choose. Pre-licensing courses may range from a few hundred to several hundred dollars. Some states may require specific course packages that include textbooks and study materials.
  • Licensing Exam Fees: The licensing exam fee is another important cost. Exam fees typically range from $50 to $200, depending on the state.
  • License Application Fee: After passing the licensing exam, you’ll need to apply for a real estate license with your state’s regulatory authority. Application fees vary by state and can range from $100 to $300.
  • Background Check Fee: Some states require a background check as part of the licensing process. The background check fee may be an additional expense, typically around $25 to $50.
  • Brokerage Fees (if applicable): If you choose to affiliate with a real estate brokerage, there may be costs associated with joining the brokerage. These costs can include desk fees, transaction fees, and commission splits, which can vary widely depending on the brokerage.
  • Continuing Education (if applicable): Some states have continuing education requirements for maintaining a real estate license. Continuing education courses may incur additional costs, and the fees depend on the number of required hours and the education provider.

Can I become a Real Estate Agent through online education?

Indeed, you can become a real estate agent through online education in many states in the United States. Online pre-licensing courses are widely available and offer a flexible and convenient option for aspiring agents to complete the required education.

You can start by selecting a state-approved online education provider that offers pre-licensing courses for real estate agents. No more boring textbooks, no more endless lectures– just quality courses that will prepare you for your real estate agent license exam. Ensure that the provider is recognized and accepted by your state’s real estate regulatory authority.

8 Credible Websites for Realtors to Supplement Learning

  • National Association of Realtors: The official website of NAR offers a wealth of resources for real estate agents, including industry news, market research, legal updates, and professional development opportunities.
  • Realtor.com for Professionals: Realtor.com offers a dedicated section for real estate professionals, providing access to listing tools, marketing resources, and industry insights.
  • Realtors Property Resource: RPR is a comprehensive property database available to NAR members, providing data, reports, and analytics to assist agents in their market analysis.
  • Inman: Inman is a leading real estate news and information platform that provides valuable insights, industry analysis, and educational articles for real estate professionals.
  • Colibri Real Estate: Colibri Real Estate offers online pre-licensing courses and continuing education for real estate agents looking to obtain or renew their licenses.
  • Trulia for Professionals: Trulia offers a platform for real estate agents to manage their listings, respond to leads, and access market insights.
  • Kaplan Real Estate Education: Kaplan provides a variety of real estate courses, including exam prep materials, continuing education, and professional development resources.
  • REALTOR® University: REALTOR® University offers online courses and webinars on various real estate topics, helping agents stay informed and knowledgeable.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Real Estate Agent?

Sure, you need to have people skills and a knack for sales, but there’s more to it than that. As a real estate agent, you’ll learn how to navigate the complex world of contracts and negotiation like a seasoned pirate navigating uncharted waters. You’ll also need to brush up on your math skills so you can calculate costs and commissions faster than a calculator.

Likewise, the power of persuasion–you’ll become a master of the art of convincing people that there’s no place like home.

So, if you’re up for the challenge of being a real estate agent, get ready to add these unique skills to your repertoire:

  • Communication Skills: You will enhance your ability to effectively communicate with clients, understand their needs, and convey information about properties and market conditions clearly and professionally.
  • Negotiation Skills: Real estate agents often negotiate deals on behalf of their clients, so you will learn how to negotiate terms, price, and conditions to achieve the best possible outcomes for buyers and sellers.
  • Marketing and Advertising: You will learn to create effective marketing strategies to promote properties for sale, using various channels such as online listings, social media, and traditional advertising methods.
  • Client Relationship Management: Real estate agents build and maintain relationships with clients, so you will develop skills in providing exceptional customer service and earning client trust and loyalty.
  • Market Analysis: You will learn to analyze local real estate market trends, property values, and market conditions to help clients make informed decisions.
  • Contracts and Paperwork: Real estate transactions involve extensive paperwork, so you will become proficient in preparing and managing contracts, disclosures, and other legal documents.
  • Time Management: Real estate agents often handle multiple clients and properties simultaneously, so you will develop time management skills to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Problem-Solving: You will learn to identify and address challenges that may arise during real estate transactions, finding creative solutions to meet clients’ needs.
  • Technology and Software: Real estate agents use various software and tools for listing management, client communication, and market research, so you will become tech-savvy and proficient in using these resources.
  • Ethics and Professionalism: You will learn about real estate industry ethics and professional conduct, understanding the importance of upholding high ethical standards in all interactions.
  • Property Presentation and Staging: For residential real estate, you may learn about property presentation and staging techniques to enhance the appeal of listed homes.
  • Financial Analysis: For investment properties, you will gain skills in financial analysis, including calculating returns on investment, cash flow, and property valuation.
  • Adaptability: Real estate markets can be dynamic, so you will learn to adapt to changing conditions, client preferences, and industry trends.

8 Recognized Real Estate Agent Internship Opportunities

Another element to add to your profile is an internship. It’s never a bad idea to take advantage of internship opportunities when you’re building your career as a real estate agent. Not only do they give you a chance to gain hands-on experience, but they also add a little extra oomph to your resume. Jumpstart your career by discovering the perfect internship for you here:

  • Real Estate Brokerage Internship: Interning with a real estate brokerage allows individuals to work closely with licensed agents and brokers, gaining practical knowledge about property transactions, client interactions, and market analysis.
  • Property Management Internship: In a property management internship, individuals get to assist property managers with tasks like tenant relations, property maintenance, lease management, and financial analysis.
  • Real Estate Marketing Internship: Real estate marketing internships focus on marketing and promoting properties. Interns may be involved in creating marketing materials, managing social media accounts, and developing online marketing strategies.
  • Real Estate Investment Internship: Real estate investment internships offer exposure to the investment side of the industry. Interns may assist with property research, financial analysis, and investment strategy development.
  • Real Estate Development Internship: Interning with a real estate development company allows individuals to learn about the process of planning, constructing, and managing real estate projects.
  • Real Estate Research Internship: Real estate research internships involve analyzing market trends, gathering data, and conducting market research for brokerage firms or real estate consulting companies.
  • Commercial Real Estate Internship: Interning in the commercial real estate sector provides insights into leasing, property management, and transactions involving commercial properties like office buildings, retail centers, and industrial spaces.
  • Residential Real Estate Internship: Residential real estate internships focus on residential property transactions, including working with buyers and sellers, conducting property showings, and assisting with paperwork.

Uncovering the Work-Life Balance Dynamic for Real Estate Agents

One minute, you might be showing a client their dream home, and the next, you’re finalizing a contract at 11 pm. Do not despair because, with a little bit of creativity and some intentional scheduling, a work-life balance can be achieved. Take advantage of technology to work from home or while on the go, and set boundaries with clients to ensure that you have time for your personal life.

Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to a spa day or a weekend getaway every once in a while. Implement these tips to live a balanced life between work and personal hours. Trust us, your clients will appreciate a refreshed and rejuvenated agent even more.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Flexible Schedule: Real estate agents often have the advantage of setting their own schedules to some extent. This flexibility can allow agents to balance work with personal commitments and family time.
  • Varied Work Hours: While flexibility is a benefit, real estate transactions don’t always conform to a 9-to-5 schedule. Agents may need to be available during evenings, weekends, and holidays to accommodate clients’ schedules and attend property showings.
  • Busy and Slow Periods: Real estate markets can experience busy seasons when transactions are more frequent and slow periods when activity decreases. During busy times, agents may find themselves working long hours to meet client demands.
  • Client Availability: Real estate agents need to be responsive to their clients’ needs, which may include answering calls, texts, and emails outside of traditional working hours.
  • Time Management: Successful agents often develop strong time management skills to balance client interactions, property research, marketing, administrative tasks, and personal time.
  • Work from Anywhere: With the advent of technology, many tasks can be performed remotely. Agents can work from home, their office, or even while traveling.
  • Maintaining Boundaries: To achieve a healthy work-life balance, real estate agents need to establish boundaries. This could mean designating certain hours for work and personal time and communicating those boundaries to clients.
  • Taking Breaks: While the real estate profession can be demanding, it’s essential to take breaks and vacations to recharge and avoid burnout.
  • Self-Care: Prioritizing self-care, including exercise, hobbies, and downtime, is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Achieving a work-life balance in real estate requires ongoing adjustments and compromises. There will be periods when work demands more time, but finding equilibrium is possible with careful planning and setting realistic expectations.

What’s the Career Outlook for Real Estate Agents?

The career outlook for real estate agents is expected to exhibit a 5% growth rate over a decade–from 2021 to 2031. This growth rate is roughly on par with the average growth observed across all occupations.

Over the course of the next decade, an estimated 54,800 job openings for real estate agents are anticipated each year, constituting an average projection. This suggests a steady demand within the real estate industry for professionals who can effectively facilitate property transactions, connect buyers with suitable properties, and support clients through the complex process of buying or selling real estate assets. The consistent number of projected job openings underscores the enduring importance of these roles within the broader real estate landscape.

Real Estate Agent Popular Career Specialties

Career Paths a Real Estate Agent Can Pursue

There are plenty of job opportunities in this field, ranging from working with a big agency to starting your own small business. So, next time you’re job hunting, ensure to read the real estate agent job description carefully and prepare for the interview with tailored questions and answers.

The real estate market is constantly growing, so you can take advantage of the opportunities these roles offer:

  • Residential Real Estate Agent: Residential real estate agents work with individuals and families looking to buy or sell homes. They assist clients in finding suitable properties, negotiating deals, and navigating the process of residential real estate transactions.
  • Commercial Real Estate Agent: Commercial real estate agents specialize in commercial properties such as office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial complexes. As one of the high-demand sales jobs, they work with businesses, investors, and property owners to lease or sell commercial properties.
  • Buyer’s Agent: Buyer’s agents exclusively represent buyers in real estate transactions. They help clients find properties that match their preferences and negotiate on their behalf.
  • Seller’s Agent or Listing Agent: Seller’s agents focus on helping clients sell their properties. They provide guidance on pricing, marketing, and staging homes to attract potential buyers.
  • Real Estate Investment Agent: Investment agents assist clients in identifying and purchasing properties for investment purposes. They analyze potential returns and provide insights into market trends.
  • Property Manager: Some real estate agents become property managers, overseeing rental properties on behalf of landlords. They handle tasks such as tenant screening, rent collection, and property maintenance.
  • Leasing Agent: Leasing agents specialize in leasing residential or commercial properties on behalf of property owners. They market vacancies, conduct property showings, and handle lease negotiations.
  • New Home Sales Agent: New home sales agents work for homebuilders, helping clients purchase newly constructed homes. They provide information about available floor plans, features, and customization options.
  • Luxury Real Estate Agent: Luxury real estate agents focus on high-end properties and cater to clients seeking luxury homes and estates.
  • Real Estate Consultant: Real estate consultants offer expert advice and guidance to clients on various real estate matters, such as market trends, investment strategies, and property valuations.
  • Real Estate Broker: With additional education and experience, real estate agents can become brokers. Brokers can operate their own brokerages, supervise other agents, and handle more complex transactions.
  • Commercial Leasing Agent: These agents specialize in leasing commercial properties, negotiating lease terms, and assisting businesses in finding suitable spaces.
  • Short Sale Agent: Short sale agents specialize in assisting homeowners facing financial difficulties who need to sell their homes for less than what they owe on their mortgages.
  • Real Estate Trainer or Coach: Experienced agents can transition into roles as trainers or coaches, helping new agents learn the ropes and improve their skills.
  • Real Estate Appraiser: While not exactly an agent role, some real estate professionals become appraisers, evaluating property values for buyers, sellers, and financial institutions.

What Type of Companies Hire a Real Estate Agent?

It’s not just big corporations or wealthy individuals who are hiring real estate agents. Small businesses, start-ups, and even your favorite mom-and-pop shop on the corner can benefit from the expertise of a seasoned professional. After all, finding the right location could mean the difference between a thriving business and bankruptcy.

So, before you start job hunting, don’t underestimate the power of having a tailored resume for the different company types, such as:

  • Real Estate Agencies
  • Property Management Firms
  • Development Companies
  • Homebuilders
  • Commercial Real Estate Companies
  • Real Estate Investment Companies
  • Luxury Real Estate Agencies
  • Rental Management Companies
  • New Home Sales Agencies
  • Real Estate Brokerages
  • Real Estate Consultancies
  • Vacation Rental Companies
  • Real Estate Appraisal Firms
  • Mortgage Brokerages
  • Real Estate Development Consultancies

Should I become a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate can be a labyrinth of potential success and pitfalls, but with the right blend of passion and practicality, becoming a real estate agent can open the door to a fulfilling career. The crucial thing is to make an informed decision.

Have you checked out the key points of what it means to be a real estate agent in this article? Are you familiar with the market conditions and potential clients in your area? Do you have a knack for managing your time and finances? But don’t forget to also take a look at your personal interests and skills.

Do you love working with people? Are you a champion negotiator? Do you have a talent for marketing yourself? Lastly, keep your long-term goals in mind. Are you looking for a steady career or a means to build your own business empire? Whatever you decide, make sure you’re ready to fasten your seat belt and embark on a roller coaster ride of a real estate frenzy.

Careers Related to Real Estate Agent


Ajoke Aminu

About the Author

Read more articles by Ajoke Aminu