How to Become a Real Estate Sales Associate

Mar 09, 2020

Learn how to become a real estate sales associate. Research the education requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in real estate sales.

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Should I Become a Real Estate Sales Associate?

A real estate sales associate assists clients in renting, buying and selling properties. This career involves a great deal of research, interpersonal communication and knowledge of zoning and taxation laws. More than half of these professionals are self-employed and might be able to set their own hours. Success often requires working irregular and long hours in order to meet clients' scheduling needs and to offer competitive services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2018 the median annual salary for real estate sales agents was $48,690.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; college degree may be required
Degree Fields Real estate, business, finance, or a related field
Training Pre-licensing training required
Licensure/Certification Licensure required in all states, certification voluntary
Experience Sales experience helpful
Key Skills Problem-solving, time management, verbal and written communication, persuasion, and negotiation skills; able to work independently; knowledge of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), photo editing, accounting, word processing, presentation, document management and database software
Salary $48,690 (2018 median)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

To be a real estate sales associate, you need at least a high school diploma, but a college degree in real estate, business, finance or a related field might be necessary. Sales experience is also helpful. Plus, you need skills in problem-solving, time management, verbal and written communication, presentation, persuasion and negotiation. You should be able to work independently and have knowledge of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), photo editing, accounting, word processing, document management and database software. All 50 states require licensing and you must have pre-licensing training coursework. There is also voluntary certification available.

Steps to Become a Real Estate Sales Associate

Let's take a look at what steps you'll need to take to become a real estate sales associate.

Step 1: Complete Pre-Licensing Real Estate Training

According to the BLS, most states mandate that real estate candidates be 18 years old, complete pre-licensing classes and pass an examination. Pre-licensing classes may be available at community colleges, real estate offices, independent real estate schools or real estate organizations. In some cases, courses are available online. The length varies, but these courses typically cover the state's license and real estate laws, marketing, basic real estate principles, advertising and finance. Classes usually meet minimum hourly education requirements set by the state.

After completing pre-licensure training, you can apply to take their state's licensing exam. You must submit proof of education and pay the appropriate fees, as well as complete a criminal background check. The exam covers topics such as agency relationships, real estate calculations, marketing regulations and closing statements.

Locate a sponsoring broker. The process to apply for state licensure may or may not require a sponsoring broker. A sponsoring broker essentially holds a real estate sales associate's license and supervises all of his or her real estate activities.

Step 2: Obtain Employment

Licensed sales agents may secure positions with real estate companies, brokerage firms or related organizations. Newly hired sales agents may participate in on-the-job training programs or work under an experienced agent for a brief period of time.

Consider professional certification. After gaining experience, you may consider earning professional certification. The National Association of Realtors is one source that provides information for real estate agents interested in a specialty area. Example designations include Accredited Buyer's Representative and Certified Residential Specialist.

Continue your education. All real estate agents must renew their licenses to continue selling real estate. License renewal generally requires completion of continuing education classes. States designate the minimum number of hours needed per renewal period, which is typically every 2-4 years. These classes may be taken online or in-person through community colleges or real estate organizations. Topics include ethics, civil rights, escrow and license laws.

Step 3: Look into Career Advancement Options

Real estate sales associates have several advancement opportunities available to them. Some choose to pursue a broker license or open a real estate agency. Others may choose to stay with an office and pursue managing broker opportunities. You may also earn a certificate or degree in a real estate field for additional training or pursue a related career in property management or appraisal.

To become a real estate agent, you need a high school diploma and must complete training to obtain your license as required by your state.

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