How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Becoming a real estate agent may be vital to unlocking your potential and building your career. By joining the flexible and lucrative world of real estate, you will have the opportunity to leverage your expertise in market trends and negotiation strategies to guide your clients through the complicated path of homebuying, maximizing their investment potential and their long-term happiness in finding a home. 


How long does it take?

Acquiring the education necessary to become a real estate agent may vary depending on state licensing and certification requirements. To become a real estate agent (different from a real estate broker), one typically must complete a pre-licensing education course, which commonly entails 60 to 90 hours of content. After completing your education, you may also need to pass a state licensing exam. This process may take a few months to complete, although some students who pursue a college degree in a related field, such as marketing, may take more time to complete their prerequisite education.

How much does it cost?

The cost of becoming a real estate agent may vary depending on several factors, including your location of prospective employment and the place of your education (be it in person or online). Additionally, state certification exams and association memberships may add additional annual costs to the expenses of a real estate agent. On average, pre-licensing education may range between $500 to $2,000. Further, licensing exams may range from one-time fees between $50 and $300, and membership fees may cost real estate agents a few hundred dollars annually.

What will you study?

A course for prospective real-estate agents may address the following:

  • Real-Estate Principles and Practices: Foundational knowledge of the industry, including key concepts of contract and ownership, as well as the roles and responsibilities of real estate professionals. 
  • Real-Estate Law: Various forms of property ownership and rights, contract law, and common legal technicalities and issues in real estate.
  • Computational Skills: Mathematical calculations used in real estate transactions, such as prorations, loan calculations, and commission structures, as well as property appraisal methods and valuation techniques. 
  • Marketing & Advertising: Marketing and advertising strategies for properties and agencies, analyzing market trends and catering to specific clientele. 
  • Licensing and Regulations: An overview of real estate licensing laws and regulations specific to your state of licensure and employment. 

Course Benefits

A prerequisite training course in real estate education is often essential for acquiring licensing in most states. In addition, real estate agent training can provide crucial knowledge and skills vital for success in the industry; these skills may include insider information from experts in the field, which may not be practically attainable for prospective real estate agents who are self-studying for their certification exams. Pre-licensing courses are specifically designed to prepare prospective real estate agents for their local licensing exams, which may increase their chances of passing the exam on their first attempt, reducing the cost of future exam fees. Many educational programs for prospective real estate agents offer flexible learning options, allowing individuals to pursue the education style that best suits their needs and schedule. Training programs may equip prospective agents and those already practicing with additional certifications to boost their confidence and credibility when seeking employment. Overall, the benefits of training may significantly enhance future real estate agents’ prospects and set them on the path to a successful career in the industry. 


Average Salary Nationwide

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real estate agents in the United States make an average of $52,030 per year or $25.02 per hour. Still, salaries for real estate agents boast tremendous upward mobility, ranging up to $113,320 annually. Real estate agents can further their earning potential by acquiring additional certification and specialization or by pursuing a real estate broker license.

Certifications and Exams

Although specific certifications and exams required for real estate agents may vary depending on the state and type of work they plan to engage in, they often pursue several standard certifications and exams. Completing and passing the real estate licensing exam is a fundamental requirement for real estate agents across the country; candidates must pass a state-specific exam that may address critical topics on real estate laws, principles, and practices (although exact content may vary depending on the state). 

An often critical component of passing this exam is pre-licensing education; depending on the state, pre-licensing education may be mandatory for prospective real estate agents. Specific program certification requirements or length requirements may vary depending on the form. Following exam completion, prospective agents receive their real estate agent license, allowing them to practice real estate in their state legally. Real estate agents seeking to open their businesses must address local and state licensing requirements for business owners and complete any necessary registration or paperwork before practicing. 

After acquiring all the necessary certifications to practice, some real estate agents may seek further education to enhance their credentials and career prospects. These agents may choose to pursue a broker’s license, which requires additional coursework, experience, and the completion of another licensing exam; becoming a real estate broker allows agents to work independently or manage their own real estate office with greater flexibility and more authority than a standard real estate agent. Real estate agents seeking an alternative path may additionally choose to become members of the National Association of Realtors ((NAR), earning the REALTOR designation. This designation demonstrates a higher standard of professionalism to employers. Real estate agents may additionally choose to specialize in specific subsections of the real estate field. Examples of such certifications include becoming a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), or a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), among other specifications. Most of these certifications require additional coursework and exams but may prove beneficial in increasing real estate agents’ employability. 

Career Overview

What is it?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional representing buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. They play crucial roles in helping clients handle residential and commercial properties. Though the term ‘real estate agent’ is often used colloquially to represent various certification levels and aspects of the career, there is a distinction between real estate salespeople (agents), real estate brokers, and real estate associate brokers. 

Job Duties & Responsibilities

A real estate agent’s duties and responsibilities primarily revolve around acting as an intermediary between buyers and sellers, advocating for their clients throughout the transaction. Agents must be equipped with a solid understanding of the local market and be able to cater to their client’s needs when seeking commercial or residential properties or prospective buyers. Real estate agents are additionally tasked with negotiating offers for their clients and managing extensive paperwork and legal technicalities to ensure the buying and selling process goes smoothly.