How to Become a Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent
Real estate brokers and sales agents often find new clients through referrals.
Real estate brokers and sales agents typically must complete a number of real estate courses and pass a licensing exam.
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 may waive this requirement if the candidate has taken college courses in real estate.
As the real estate market becomes more competitive and complex, some employers are preferring to hire candidates with a college degree. Some community colleges, colleges, and universities offer courses in real estate. Some offer associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in real estate, and many others offer certificate programs. Courses in finance, business administration, economics, and law also can be useful.
Brokers intending to open their own company often 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 real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most have similar basic requirements:
- be 18 years old
- complete a number of real estate courses
- pass an exam
Some states have additional requirements, such as passing a background check. Licenses typically are not transferable among states. However, some states have reciprocity agreements in that they will accept some requirements used to get a license in another state (such as course hours).
To obtain a broker’s license, individuals generally need 1 to 3 years of experience as a licensed sales agent. They also must take additional formal training courses. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may be substituted in place of 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. To verify exact licensing requirements, prospective brokers and agents should contact the real estate licensing commission of the state in which they wish to work.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
To get a broker’s license in most states, real estate brokers must have experience working as a licensed real estate sales agent. Requirements vary by state, but most require 1 to 3 years of experience.
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.
Sales agents who earn their broker’s license may open their own offices.
Business skills. Because most brokers are self-employed, they must manage every aspect of their business. This task includes reaching out to prospective clients, handling their finances, and advertising their services.
Interpersonal skills. Strong interpersonal skills are essential for real estate brokers and sales agents, because they spend much of their time interacting with clients and customers. To attract and keep clients, they must be pleasant, enthusiastic, and trustworthy.
Organizational skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to work independently, managing their own time and organizing, planning, and prioritizing their work.
Problem-solving skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents need to be able to quickly (sometimes immediately) address concerns clients or potential customers may have with a property. They also mediate negotiations between seller and buyer.