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How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Learn how to become a real estate agent. Research the education requirements, training and licensure information, and experience required for starting a career in real estate. View article »

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  • 0:00 Real Estate Agent Career Info
  • 1:00 Prepare for Licensure
  • 1:45 Obtain a State License
  • 2:14 Obtain Employment
  • 3:03 Complete Continuing Education

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Video Transcript

Real Estate Agent Career Info

Degree Level None; some states require 30-90 hours in real estate education for licensure; certificate or degree in real estate improves career outlook
Degree Field Real estate
Licensure and Certification A state issued real estate license is required, optional certifications/designations available
Key Skills Strong interpersonal, persuasion, and communication skills, knowledge of state real estate laws; proficiency in basic computer functions
Salary $43,470 (2015 median salary for all real estate sales agents)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Real estate agents use their knowledge of local areas and real estate laws to sell homes or properties that best fit the needs and budgets of their clients. Working under a real estate broker, real estate agents earn a portion of the sales commission from selling a property.

Real estate agents sometimes have to travel and often work nights, holidays, and weekends. Competition is common among local real estate agents. State licensure, job training, and a minimum of a high school education are required to become a real estate agent, though college coursework may expand an agent's career opportunities.

These professionals must have strong interpersonal skills, strong persuasion and communication skills, knowledge of state real estate laws, and proficiency in basic computer functions. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that real estate sales agents earned a median annual salary of $43,470.

Prepare for Licensure

Brokers only hire real estate agents who have graduated from high school or have a GED. Due to the legal complexity of real estate transactions, agents are required to undergo formal training and gain state licensure in order to work professionally. Pre-licensure courses for aspiring real estate agents must be state-approved and may be substituted by college coursework in real estate.

Certificate, associate's, and bachelor's degree programs are available in real estate and can help an aspiring real estate agent stand out to potential employers. These education programs prepare students for licensure by teaching aspiring agents how to successfully complete real estate transactions, promote properties, and identify construction techniques and materials.

Obtain a State License

Every state requires real estate agents to be licensed to ensure that customers are protected from fraud. In order to receive this license, a real estate agent completes a written examination comprised of questions on property laws and real estate transactions. The majority of states require agents acquiring this license to complete 30-90 hours in real estate education. Additionally, individuals seeking licensure may have to pass a criminal background check in some states.

Obtain Employment

Real estate sales agents will find employment opportunities with real estate brokers. These professionals work to show and sell properties to potential buyers. Commonly working in residential property, real estate agents are responsible for dealing with the complex details of buying and selling property. Real estate agents should continue researching the area they work in to stay up-to-date on area demographics and other features that could serve as selling points.

A professional organization such as the National Association of Realtors provides real estate agents with a number of benefits, including continuing education options and additional certifications and designations. Other advantages include health insurance, home and business insurance, travel and automotive discounts, and financial protection services.

Complete Continuing Education

Typically, continuing education is required for the periodic renewal of a state license. Workshops and seminars can serve as continuing education options for agents, so they can stay well-informed about real estate laws and market trends.

Once again, real estate agents are not required to have any formal degree from a university; however, they are required to complete some formal training before they can receive a state-issued real estate license and begin selling property.

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