Guide on How to Become a Real Estate Agent

There are over 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States alone. The career holds several perks, like a good income and ability to travel.

Becoming a real estate agent can also let you build your own business and be your own boss. But are real estate agent qualifications difficult to achieve?

Although it can take some time from your schedule and money from your pocket, becoming a real estate agent is a process that those with the right determination can hurdle fairly easily.

becoming a real estate agent

How To Get Your Real Estate License?

To become a real estate agent, it is best to have some experience in the field, understand the specific requirements for your state, have some money saved for your education and exam, and have a plan for your license.

If you are serious about becoming a licensed real estate agent, this article can help you learn how to become a real estate agent. We will cover everything from learning where to look for your state’s real estate agent qualifications to finding and funding real estate agent courses to the process of applying for your real estate agent license.  

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Real Estate Agent Career Outlook

Before you learn how to become a licensed real estate agent, you should understand as much information about the real estate agent career as possible. Becoming a real estate agent is a lengthy and costly process, so it is best to make sure that this career is for you before you start.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a median pay of $45,610 per year in 2015 for a licensed real estate agent or broker. BLS projects about a 3% growth in real estate agents and brokers through 2024, and this is dependent on the fluctuation of the housing market throughout that time period.

It is important to note that a licensed real estate agent is different from a licensed real estate broker. Although they perform mostly the same tasks, a broker is licensed to run his own real estate business, while an agent works with a broker. Therefore, there are some real estate agent requirements and job duties different than those of a broker.

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Become a Real Estate Agent in Your State

Before you become a real estate agent, you must first check with the requirements for how to become a licensed real estate agent in your state. The best place to find your state’s requirements is through its Real Estate Commission or professional licensing division. You can usually find the link through a web search or your state’s government website.

Ohio, for example, lists its requirements in a document on its government website within its Department of Commerce Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing. Ohio requires that, to become a real estate agent, you must be sponsored by an Ohio Broker. The document also specifies the education requirements and real estate agent courses required by the state.

becoming a real estate agent

Become a Real Estate Agent in Your State

In contrast, New York does not require sponsorship by a broker to become a real estate agent, and to find out its specific educational requirements, you will need to contact the Division of Licensing Services, as they are not listed on the website.

Real estate agent requirements can vary slightly across states, so it is important that you know your state’s requirements before getting started.

You should also check with your state to determine its reciprocity with other states. Some states have real estate license reciprocity with certain other states. This means that becoming a real estate agent in another state with reciprocity with your state will be a quicker process than going through the whole real estate licensing process for your new state.

Take reciprocity into consideration when you look into how to become a licensed real estate agent with your state, as it can save you a lot of time later should you move your practice to another state. Colorado, for example, has reciprocity with 49 other states, making it one of the most lenient states for real estate license reciprocity. 

Mortgage News Daily provides a helpful list of links for real estate agent qualifications for each state. By clicking on your state’s link, you will find some basic real estate license requirements for your state and the link to your state’s real estate commission for more information.

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Basic Real Estate Agent Requirements

Although all states have specific real estate agent qualifications, there are some basic real estate license requirements that you will need to adhere to before you become a real estate agent in any state. The general requirements of a real estate agent, before qualifying for licensure, are:

Must be at least 18-years-old

  • Must successfully pass required educational courses
  • Must successfully pass the licensure exam

Several states have additional requirements similar to each other, so it is important to note that you should also consider meeting these requirements before becoming a real estate agent:

  • Must pass a background check. Several states require background checks and fingerprints and reserve the right to deny you for licensure, should you have a criminal record.
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. General real estate agent requirements specify successfully completing specific real estate courses before obtaining licensure. However, most states have very specific requirements regarding the approved courses, and others may require you to have a bachelor’s degree. Some accept a bachelor’s degree in certain fields in lieu of real estate agent courses. 
  • Must have experience in the field. Even if your state does not require it, you can benefit from having at least a year’s experience in the real estate field before becoming a real estate agent. There is a lot to learn in addition to selling homes, like paperwork and insurance, so you might consider an internship with a respectable broker before applying. 

Although these are not requirements, a licensed real estate agent typically displays certain characteristics that can help him advance in his career. Since some licensees become real estate agents with their own businesses, they often possess good business, organizational, and problem-solving skills. A real estate agent should also communicate well with clients and be personable.

Save Some Money Before Becoming a Real Estate Agent

When looking into how to become a real estate agent, you might be wondering how you can afford an internship, which is usually not paid, in addition to the cost of attending college real estate agent courses and paying for your exam and licensure.

Before you become a real estate agent, you might want to consider saving money for a few months to at least help you afford your courses so you are not scrambling to find a funding source for college and bills.

become a real estate agent

Real Estate Agent Requirements

Remember that you will also have to pay fees for your exam and your license to become a real estate agent. The fees also vary by state, so check your state’s licensing fees before you begin the process to ensure that you have enough saved and will not have any surprise costs later.

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Real Estate Agent Courses and Educational Requirements

The number of hours of real estate agent courses needed to become a real estate agent vary significantly between states. For example, California requires 135 hours of required coursework, but Maine requires only the successful completion of a Sales Agent course.

Some states allow for their required coursework to be completed online, making it easier for you to complete your educational requirements for becoming a real estate agent in conjunction with a job or internship.

You can also sometimes choose from a list of real estate courses from various higher education institutions, as long as they are approved by your state’s real estate commission. This can help you tailor your real estate agent license to the type of practice you would like to have in the future.

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Taking the Real Estate Agent License Exam

Again, before applying to take your real estate license exam, search how to become a real estate agent in your state. Each state’s real estate commission will provide instructions to help you apply for your exam and license.

The real estate exam is an important part of the process for becoming a real estate agent. This exam ensures that each candidate has basic real estate agent qualifications, has the knowledge required for real estate practices, understands the principles real estate agents must abide by, and can adhere to the honesty and trust factors required of a licensed real estate agent.

The licensing exam fee typically ranges from $100 to $300 depending on your state. It consists of multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of math, federal real estate guidelines, and guidelines for becoming a real estate agent in your state.

How to Apply for a Real Estate Agent License

Most states will give you your results electronically or by mail within a few business dates of the exam. Once you meet real estate agent qualifications and pass your exam, you are ready to become a real estate agent in your state. Your next step is getting your license so you can begin practicing real estate.

Licensing fees for each state vary, but usually will cost between $200 and $400. Once you become a real estate agent, you will also have to renew your license annually to have a current license. The renewal fee is less than the initial licensing fee, but make sure you renew on time or you can face late fees and possibly re-examination if you wait too long. New Hampshire, for example, tacks on a $60 penalty fee for late renewals.  

What Can You Do Once You Become a Real Estate Agent?

Now that you know the process for becoming a real estate agent, you should have a plan for what direction you want to move with your real estate license.

Do you want your own business? Do you eventually want to become a broker? Do you know how to become a licensed real estate agent that people trust with their business? Becoming a real estate agent requires adherence to a strict process that hard work and determination will get you through, but it is also important to plan your future as a real estate agent to gain the most success from your career. 

One of the best ways to move ahead with your new career and become a real estate agent people trust is by becoming a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

real estate agent requirements

What Can You Do Once You’re a Licensed Real Estate Agent?

The NAR is a highly-respected board of real estate agents who adhere to a code of ethics and promise to conduct business with honesty and integrity.

When you become a real estate agent with the NAR, you will have access to several benefits, such as personal insurance options, special banking services, risk management programs, and more to help you get your career off to a smooth start. 

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Becoming a real estate agent involves adhering to strict guidelines for your state and completing the process for becoming a real estate agent with success and integrity. For those serious about a real estate agent career, getting a real estate license is just the beginning of the many successes possible in this career.

To become a real estate agent, first check your state’s requirements and reciprocity so you can plan ahead for the future. Consider gaining experience within the real estate field so you can better prepare yourself for your education and career ahead.

Once you pass your exam and obtain licensure, consider becoming a real estate agent with the NAR, a board of real estate agent members that many sellers trust to sell their homes efficiently and for top dollar. Doing so can boost your career ahead and set you apart from others in your industry.

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