Real Estate Agent: Occupational Outlook & Career Profile

Sep 13, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a real estate agent. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and state licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

If you are considering a career as a real estate agent, you will need a high school diploma and state license, although degree programs in real estate are available. You will also need to work nights and weekends, and spend a lot of your time out of the office, holding open houses and showing properties.

Essential Information

Real estate agents facilitate the sale of all types of property and can work for buyers or sellers. They need a high school diploma or a GED certificate and real estate training that is approved by their state. Some hold degrees in real estate. They must pass an examination to obtain the mandatory license to work as a real estate agent. Many are self-employed, and others work in real estate agencies, including franchises with many offices around the country. They are usually paid on commission, so their income depends on their sales performance and on market conditions.

Required Education High school diploma or the equivalent and state-accredited real estate courses; some states will accept college courses in real estate
Licensing State license required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% (for all real estate sales agents)
Mean Salary (2018)* $61,720 (for real estate sales agents)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Real Estate Agent Occupational Outlook

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, employment for real estate agents is expected to increase 7% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the national average for all occupations. This growth is attributed to the growth of real estate market. While growth is expected, the industry is still vulnerable to economic fluctuation that may cause real estate prices to fall. While most agents work in traditional real estate offices, they may also be employed by building construction and land subdivision companies.

Salary Information

In May 2018, BLS statistics reflected that real estate agents made a mean salary of $61,720 annually. Most agents earned a median salary between $24,650 and $112,610 per year at that time. Agents based in New York and Rhode Island, as well as in Alaska, received the highest salaries in 2018, as reported by the BLS.

Career Profile

Real estate agents represent buyers and sellers of commercial, residential and other properties. These professionals must be knowledgeable about local neighborhoods and property laws. Real estate agents may also need marketing skills to promote themselves and their properties. They may be required to do research when pricing a property or negotiating an offer.

Real estate agents may work evenings and weekends, depending on their client's schedule. While some time is spent in the office, many hours are spent hosting open houses or prospecting for clients. Real estate agents often work for brokers and may interact with lawyers, accountants and financiers during the selling process.

Educational Requirements and Options

Aspiring real estate agents must complete high school. While a college degree isn't a necessity, postsecondary institutes offer certificate, associate's and bachelor's programs in real estate. These programs include coursework in real estate law, investing and finance. Some programs may integrate courses that are required by state licensing boards into the program.


The BLS states that all 50 states and the District of Columbia require agents to be licensed. In order to become licensed, individuals must pass an exam that covers real estate concepts. Some states may have educational requirements that must be completed before individuals sit for an exam. Licenses must be kept current, and may be done by completing continuing education requirements.

Real estate agents work for buyers and sellers of commercial and residential properties, and are employed by agencies, building and land companies. They must be knowledgeable about local areas and property laws, and possess strong marketing and research skills. A high school diploma and state license are required, and real estate agents are predicted to see a 7% increase in job opportunities through the year 2028.

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