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Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Summary

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Quick Facts: Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
2021 Median Pay $48,770 per year
$23.45 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2021 562,100
Job Outlook, 2021-31 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 30,100

What Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents Do

Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties.

Work Environment

Most real estate brokers and sales agents are self-employed. Although they often work irregular hours, many are able to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent

Real estate brokers and sales agents typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation. Every state requires real estate brokers and agents to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for real estate brokers was $62,010 in May 2021.

The median annual wage for real estate sales agents was $48,340 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 54,800 openings for real estate brokers and sales agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for real estate brokers and sales agents.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of real estate brokers and sales agents with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about real estate brokers and sales agents by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents Do About this section

Real estate brokers and sales agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients find a home that meets their needs.

Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. Although brokers and agents do similar work, brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Sales agents must work with a real estate broker.

Duties

Real estate brokers and sales agents typically do the following:

  • Solicit potential clients to buy, sell, and rent properties
  • Advise clients on prices, mortgages, market conditions, and related information
  • Compare properties to determine a competitive market price
  • Generate lists of properties for sale or rent, including details such as location and features
  • Promote properties through advertisements, open houses, and listing services
  • Take prospective buyers or renters to see properties
  • Present purchase offers to sellers for consideration
  • Mediate negotiations between buyer and seller
  • Ensure that terms of purchase contracts are met
  • Prepare documents, such as closing statements, purchase agreements, and leases

Because of the complexity of buying or selling a residential or commercial property, people often seek help from real estate brokers and sales agents.

Most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property. Others sell commercial property, and a small number sell industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate.

Real estate brokers and sales agents also may list and show commercial and residential properties for rent. They help clients seeking to rent a property find a property that best suits their needs.

Brokers and agents may represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction. Buyers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to determine what they are looking for in a property and how much they can afford. Sellers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to help them decide how much to ask for and to assure them that the agent or broker can find them a qualified buyer.

Real estate brokers and sales agents must be knowledgeable about the real estate market in their area. To match properties to clients’ needs, they should be familiar with local communities, including knowing the crime information and the proximity to schools and shopping. Brokers and agents also must stay current on financing options; government programs; types of available mortgages; and real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws.

Some brokers and agents become active in community organizations and local real estate organizations to broaden their contacts and increase their sales.

The following are examples of types of real estate brokers and sales agents:

Real estate brokers are licensed to manage their own businesses. As independent businesspeople, brokers often sell real estate owned by others. In addition to helping clients buy and sell properties, they may help rent or manage properties for a fee. Many operate a real estate office, handling business details and overseeing the work of sales agents.

Real estate sales agents must work with a broker. Sales agents often work for brokers on a contract basis, earning a portion of the commission from each property they sell.

Work Environment About this section

Real estate brokers and sales agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents show properties to prospective buyers.

Real estate brokers held about 123,100 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of real estate brokers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 59%
Real estate and rental and leasing 38

Real estate sales agents held about 438,900 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of real estate sales agents were as follows:

Self-employed workers 58%
Real estate and rental and leasing 34
Construction 3

Workplace size for real estate brokers and sales agents ranges from a one-person business to a large firm with numerous branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies. Under this arrangement, the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization.

Real estate brokers and sales agents typically work in an office setting. However, they spend much of their time away from their desks to show properties, see properties, and meet with current or prospective clients.

Work Schedules

Most real estate brokers and sales agents work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. Many brokers and sales agents spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work irregular hours, many are able to set their own schedules.

Some brokers and sales agents work part time.

How to Become a Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent About this section

Real estate brokers and sales agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents must be pleasant when interacting with clients.

Real estate brokers and sales agents typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation. They also must complete a number of real estate courses and pass a licensing exam. States typically require licensed agents to have experience before obtaining a broker’s license.

Education

In addition to having a high school diploma, real estate brokers and sales agents must complete some real estate courses to be eligible for licensure. Although most brokers and agents must take state-accredited prelicensing courses to become licensed, some states waive this requirement if the candidate has taken college courses in real estate.

Some community colleges and 4-year universities offer courses, degree programs, or certificate programs in real estate. These postsecondary credentials typically are not required, but many real estate brokers and sales agents have a bachelor’s degree. Courses in finance, business administration, economics, and law also may be useful.

Prospective brokers who plan to open their own company may find it helpful to take business courses, such as marketing and accounting.

In addition to offering prelicensing courses, many real estate associations have courses and professional development programs for both beginners and experienced agents. These courses cover a variety of topics, such as real estate fundamentals, real estate law, and mortgage financing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require real estate brokers and sales agents to be licensed. Minimum requirements for candidate licensure vary by state but typically include being at least age 18, having a high school diploma or equivalent, completing prelicensing courses, and passing an exam.

Some states have additional requirements, such as passing a background check. Licenses typically are not transferable between states. However, some states have reciprocity agreements that streamline the process for brokers and agents licensed in one state to get a license in another state.

For a broker’s license, states typically require that candidates have a specified number of years of experience as a licensed sales agent and take additional formal training. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may be substituted for some experience or training requirements.

State licenses typically must be renewed every 2 to 4 years. In most states, brokers and agents must complete continuing education courses to renew their license. Prospective brokers and agents should verify requirements with the real estate licensing commission of the state in which they wish to work.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most states require that candidates for a broker’s license have experience working as a licensed real estate sales agent. Requirements vary by state, but most require at least 2 years of experience.

Training

Real estate sales agents improve their skills through practice and repetition. Training varies depending on the real estate company. Some provide formal training, while others allow their agents to enter the field immediately after obtaining their license. In some states, agents must be sponsored by a broker while they are working to get their license.

Because of the sales environment and the complexity of real estate deals, new agents may observe and work closely with more senior agents. Larger real estate companies may provide formal classroom training for new agents as a way to gain knowledge and experience, while others provide training to employees studying for their real estate licensing exam.

The length of training also may vary, depending on the number of real estate transactions in which the agent takes part. Agents involved in a large number of home sales may have a shorter period of on-the-job training than agents involved in few transactions.

Advancement

Sales agents may advance by getting a broker’s license. Brokers may open their own business or work as associate brokers to manage an independent office within a real estate company. Their responsibilities might include hiring, training, and assisting sales agents.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Because most real estate brokers and sales agents are self-employed, they must be able to manage every aspect of their business, including billing and advertising.

Interpersonal skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents spend much of their time interacting with others, such as clients and contractors. They must be pleasant, respectful, and dependable.

Organizational skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to manage their own time for planning and prioritizing their work.

Problem-solving skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to address concerns relating to a property. They also mediate negotiations between a seller and a buyer.

Self-motivated. Because they often have little or no supervision, real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to work independently.

Pay About this section

Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Median annual wages, May 2021

Real estate brokers

$62,010

Real estate brokers and sales agents

$48,770

Real estate sales agents

$48,340

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Other sales and related workers

$36,590

 

The median annual wage for real estate brokers was $62,010 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $176,080.

The median annual wage for real estate sales agents was $48,340 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,170.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for real estate brokers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Real estate and rental and leasing $61,890

In May 2021, the median annual wages for real estate sales agents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction $48,270
Real estate and rental and leasing 47,530

Brokers and sales agents earn most of their income from commissions on sales. The commission varies by the type of property and its value. Commissions often are divided among the buying agent, selling agent, brokers, and firms.

An agent’s income often depends on economic conditions, the agent’s individual motivation, and the types of property available. Income usually increases as agents become more experienced at sales. Earnings may be irregular, especially for beginners, and agents sometimes go weeks or months without a sale.

Most real estate brokers and sales agents work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Work schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. Many brokers and sales agents spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work irregular hours, many are able to set their own schedules.

Some brokers and sales agents work part time.

Job Outlook About this section

Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Real estate brokers

6%

Total, all occupations

5%

Real estate brokers and sales agents

5%

Real estate sales agents

5%

Other sales and related workers

1%

 

Overall employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 54,800 openings for real estate brokers and sales agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

There will be a continued demand for real estate brokers and sales agents because people turn to these workers when looking for a new home, relocating, or purchasing property for a business, among other reasons. Employment is projected to grow along with the real estate market.

Tighter credit regulations and increasing real estate prices may force some people to continue renting as opposed to entering the housing market, which may result in fewer new jobs for real estate brokers and sales agents.

The real estate market is highly sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, and projected employment of real estate brokers and agents varies accordingly. In periods of economic growth or stability, employment should grow to accommodate people looking to buy homes and commercial or retail space. Alternatively, during periods of declining economic activity or rising interest rates, the amount of work for brokers and agents often slows and employment may decline.

Employment projections data for real estate brokers and sales agents, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Real estate brokers and sales agents

41-9020 562,100 592,200 5 30,100 Get data

Real estate brokers

41-9021 123,100 130,200 6 7,100 Get data

Real estate sales agents

41-9022 438,900 462,000 5 23,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of real estate brokers and sales agents.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Advertising sales agents Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals.

High school diploma or equivalent $52,340
Appraisers and assessors of real estate Property Appraisers and Assessors

Property appraisers and assessors provide a value estimate on real estate and on tangible personal and business property.

Bachelor's degree $61,340
Insurance sales agents Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.

High school diploma or equivalent $49,840
Loan officers Loan Officers

Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications.

Bachelor's degree $63,380
Property and community association managers Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers

Property, real estate, and community association managers take care of the many aspects of residential, commercial, or industrial properties.

High school diploma or equivalent $59,230
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.

Bachelor's degree $62,910
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

See How to Become One $62,890
Retail sales workers Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments.

No formal educational credential $29,180
Personal financial advisors Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their money and plan for their financial future.

Bachelor's degree $94,170
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm (visited January 18, 2023).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2023

What They Do

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Work Environment

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

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Contacts for More Information

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2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.