How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Real Estate Agent Careers & Degrees
Education0-6 Months

A real estate agent negotiates the sale of land and buildings between a vendor and a purchaser.

If you are interested in property, have good communication skills, and are a hard worker, then you might like to become a real estate agent.

The role of the real estate agent is to first list a property for sale, and then to find a buyer for it.

While this may seem simple on the outset, in reality it can be a lot more complicated.

Buying and selling a home is one of the most stressful situations a person goes through in life.

Real estate agents need to be strong communicators and smooth talkers.

You will often need to answer difficult questions and be able to think on your feet.

When you become a real estate agent you’ll also need to become familiar with laws surrounding property, and keep up to date with any changes throughout the course of your career.

Education Requirements to Become a Real Estate Agent

In each state there are different requirements to become a real estate agent, but you do need to be licensed to negotiate the sale of a home.

In most places this involves completing a short course and sitting for a state exam.

To work as a self-employed broker in your own agency you will need to have a few years experience and apply for a license (this can vary by location).

More information about state specific licensing you can visit

Professional development is important before and during your career.

Having good marketing and sales skills is important.

You’ll also need to have strong drive.

Taking short courses to improve these skills is recommended.

When you become a real estate agent you’ll also need strong computer literacy skills.

You will often be using a customer database, marketing properties on the internet, and communicating with clients over email.

Real Estate Agent Job Description

When you become a real estate agent, you will list, manage and sell properties.

They could be residential homes, commercial offices, or large farms.

You will meet with vendors and market their property, take people on inspections, and complete complicated paperwork that makes a sale legal.

Agents also provide after sales service, which might involve letting inspectors through a home or delivering keys on settlement day.

Some of duties of a real estate agent include:

  • Listing properties
  • Meeting with vendors
  • Completing legal paperwork
  • Property inspections
  • Negotiating a sale

You can be faced with working long hours, as well as weekends and holidays when you become a broker.

Often you will need to fit your work around your clients other commitments.

With this in mind, real estate agents don’t really need to spend a lot of time in the office, and will sometimes take time off during the day and work into the evening.

Real Estate Agent Salary and Career Path

Some real estate agents will start their career by completing an apprenticeship and learn the trade that way.

This is more common for people entering this career path young.

Others may start as an agent right away.

It takes quite some time to build up a good reputation as an agent, the first 12 months in the industry can be quite tough.

Over time though, you will build up a good base of clients.

After a few years experience, some agents will get their broker’s license and open their own agencies.

Some may go on to similar roles within the industry.

These could include:

  • Property Manager
  • Real estate appraiser
  • Insurance broker
  • Community association manager
  • Sales representative: wholesale and manufacturing

The average salary for a real estate agent just starting out is about $40,000 a year, however with experience, since real estate is commissions-based, annual salary can well exceed six figures.

For those with talent in this field that are prepared to work hard, salary is pretty much unlimited.

If you’re a natural salesperson who has charisma as well as a strong work ethic, then you may be well suited to a career as a real estate agent.

You don’t need a lot of schooling to become a real estate agent, but you will need sales skills and hard work.

An excellent salary is available for those who can succeed in this career.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$59,250
New Hampshire$49,970
New Jersey$66,880
New Mexico$55,900
New York$111,800
North Carolina$50,160
North Dakota$62,570
Rhode Island$70,420
South Carolina$48,560
South Dakota$64,720
West Virginia$56,880
Puerto Rico$50,160

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $111,800.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $111,800
Massachusetts - $84,180
Connecticut - $79,780
Alaska - $79,360
Colorado - $76,850
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Real Estate Sales Agents, OCC Code 41-9022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a real estate agent do?

Real estate agents help other people either buy or sell a property (anything from plots of land to private islands).

Buyer’s agents help the client find a suitable property to buy while listing agents help the client sell his or her property.

In a nutshell, a real estate agent acts as a middleman between the people buying the property and those selling it and the other way round.

A professional should have an impeccable knowledge of the state’s laws and of the market’s trends; real estate agents can easily set prices for property and usually work in a certain geographical area.

The main aim of a real estate agent is to either sell or buy the property at the best possible price.

Specialists charge their clients a percentage of the final deal.

QuestionHow much do real estate agents make?

In the United States, the average annual salary for a real estate agent is about $37.500.

You can expect to earn anywhere between $26.000 and over $100.000 per year.

The wage of a real estate agent would certainly depend on the number of deals that he or she managed to close.

Entry-level agents usually earn a little more than $12 per hour, while top-level professionals can make nearly $49.

Real estate agents that are just getting started usually receive a very small commission, moreover, they would need time to build a strong client base.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a real estate agent?

You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a real estate agent.

The requirements would vary from state to state; however, in the majority of states, you would have to obtain a license to be able to become an agent.

It will take you anywhere between $150 and $200 to take an exam.

Pre-licensing education can cost from $300 to $2.000 and some states require you to complete these courses before applying for a license.

After that, you can go for a certification course as it will help you find more clients in the future.

You can also apply for membership in the National Association of REALTORS, for example (over $200 per year).

QuestionWhat is the demand for real estate agents?

Between 2016 and 2026, the real estate agent job market is expected to grow by 5.8%.

The industry is sensitive to the overall state of the economy.

It might be difficult for newbies to enter the job market as the license requirements have become stricter; moreover, they should be prepared to face competition from existing real estate agents.

Only those who have a certain level of education and a wide network of contacts will be able to succeed in the field.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a real estate agent?

Pre-licensing courses can take you anywhere between a few weeks to several months (online courses are also available).

After you have taken the exam, you are already a real estate agent, but the education never stops.

Once in a while, you would have to take post-licensing classes to ensure that you meet all the requirements.

Still wondering which career path is right for you? take this free career interests test to find out.

Find a Program