Not every profession requires a college degree. In fact, more and more professions are opening the door to certification requirements, online classes, and months-long (instead of multi-year long) courses. One such profession is the real estate agent. And good news: Now is a great time to become a real estate agent. The market is booming with houses flying on and off the market in the span of just a couple days (and this is happening all over the country!). If you’re wondering how to become a real estate agent, you’ve come to the right place.
(If you have experience already taking a real estate licensing course,
don’t forget to share with the Community!)
3 Things to Know About Becoming a Real Estate Agent
Before we get started, it’s important to know these three things about becoming a real estate agent in your state, county, and town:
- Most states require some kind of real estate licensing course. Your requirements might be a little different where you live versus someone that lives in another state, so you should check with your state.
- To become a realtor (with the actual title of Realtor), you have to be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They have a Code of Ethics that you must follow, but earning and keeping that title might be worth it when you’re looking to market yourself against a bunch of other real estate agents.
- Generally speaking, you’re looking at a four-to-six month time investment when it comes to the licensing course, taking the licensing exam, starting your license, and joining some kind of firm to start working. In many states, a lot of this work can be done online, which can make it easier and faster to get your license.
Now that we’ve given you a high-level overview of how to become a real estate agent, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might want to look at this lucrative career.
Why Should You Become a Real Estate Agent?
There are a few reasons why it might be a good idea to consider becoming a real estate agent. To start, you can be your own boss (for the most part). Second, you’ll be able to work with a wide variety of homeowners and home buyers on all different types of houses and properties, and it’s your choice how many clients you want to take on or don’t want to take on. For some agents, they’re looking to represent one or two big-ticket properties, and for others, it’s not uncommon to have a handful or more of properties that you’re working with at any given time.
This choice really drives how much money you make as a real estate agent, but according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 2020 median pay for real estate brokers and sales agents was $51,220. Not a bad gig at all. And for some real estate agents, you can make considerably more.
So how do you do it?
How Do You Become a Real Estate Agent?
We’ve already shared a high-level overview of some things to expect, but let’s break it down into the necessary steps you should take to become a real estate agent.
Step 1: Know Your State’s Requirements to Become a Real Estate Agent
Like we said, it varies from state to state, so be sure to hit our old friend Google and ask “[state] real estate agency” or take a look at Arello.org’s list of North American Regulatory Agencies for Real Estate. This should be a great place to start to find the information you need in your neck of the woods.
Step 2: Take Your Real Estate Licensing Course
You can’t just walk into anyone’s house and offer to sell it (well, you can, but we recommend not doing that). You have to know the ins and outs of real estate, and there are many courses available to do this. Most states have accredited real estate licensing schools that can help with this, but each state might have requirements to meet when it comes to the number of classes and hours you have to spend getting accredited. Don’t worry, it’s still significantly less than going to a four-year college, and best of all, it costs less than one most college bookstores charge for a semester’s worth of reading material. Also, a tip from us to you: shop around. You can get licensed at some places for less than others, and the basic requirements are all the same. Don’t be shy about looking for a deal.
Step 3: Get Your Real Estate License
You’ve done the work, now it’s time to pass the exam. Your class should cover how this is all done and even help you submit the application, but if they don’t, hit that list of Regulatory Agencies above and reach out to your local agency. They’ll be able to help you get your exam finished and your license in hand. Hate taking tests? Don’t worry, they are multiple-choice, so you won’t have to worry about essay answers or anything like that. Plus, if you do poorly, you’re allowed to test again (but don’t rely on this because some states limit the number of retakes).
Step 4: Activate that License to Become a Real Estate Agent
We know. It probably feels redundant. But not only do you have to take and pass your real estate test, you also have to activate your license so that you can start working. Usually, this is just a few documents, an application, and your test results that have to be sent to your local licensing agency. Once the agency gets your information and approves you, you’ll get your license in the mail and be able to start working.
Step 5: Join a Real Estate Company
You’ve heard of them before. Coldwell Banker. Keller Williams. Etc. Joining a brokerage like these can ensure that you have a supervisor, as well as assets available to you for help. Some of these companies will cover your marketing and business expenses, and others won’t, so use the time you have available while you’re waiting to get your license to check out the incentives available from each brokerage to find the one that’s right for you.
Speaking from experience, as a home buyer/seller, I would likely choose a brokerage firm first before going with an independent agent. This way, I feel more protected, so you might want to consider going with an agency as you’re building a name for yourself if your long-term goals are to do it on your own.
Step 6: Keep Track of Your Expenses
This isn’t really a step, more like friendly advice. If you’re paying out of pocket for anything from business cards to website fees, keep track of these things throughout the year. You can deduct them from your taxes, and you can decide where your money is well spent (newspaper ads) versus where you’re not getting your money’s worth (Facebook ads). This will help you grow your business without overspending.
Once you become a real estate agent, you can explore other career options, like becoming a Realtor or getting a real estate broker license. These have a lot of options available to them to ensure you’re doing what you love, making good money, and helping people through these important life milestones.
Share with the Community: Are you interested in becoming a real estate agent? What are your state’s requirements?