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