How to Become a Realtor

Realtor Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $60,630
Avg. Pay / hour $29.15
Education 0-6 Months
Job Outlook 5.8%

A realtor is a person licensed to act on behalf of a vendor to market and sell their home.

A realtor works hard to win clients, advertise a house to get as many people through as possible, and to negotiate a sale price with the lucky purchaser.

They also provide service after the sale, making sure the property transfer goes smoothly.

If you are a strong communicator, think you would be excellent at sales, and don’t mind working long hours in exchange for a good income, then you might like to become a realtor.

While you don’t need a college degree to succeed in this industry, you do need to put in a lot of time and effort to start making the big money.

While there are many realtors who earn big salaries, there are also many that struggle to make ends meet.

This industry has a high turnover, with many people not staying on for more than a year.

Often people consider the terms realtor and real estate agent to be interchangeable, however to be legally allowed to call yourself a realtor, you must be licensed with the National Association of Realtors, or NAR.

Education Requirements to Become a Realtor

The first step to become a realtor is to attain your real estate license.

The steps to do this are different in every state, so you should find out from the board where you live exactly what you need to do.

Generally, the first step is to take a pre-license course at a local community college.

Each state has a preset number of education hours you must complete before you can become a realtor.

In some places you will need to do this in the classroom, while in others you can do this online.

You will then need to take an exam on what you have learned.

A lot of the focus on the test is on contract law, as well as ethics.

To become a realtor, you will need to become licensed with NAR.

This licensure is the difference between calling yourself a real estate agent, and a realtor.

Realtors are bound by a firm code of ethics, and held responsible for their actions.

This helps give the industry a good name, and also makes clients feel more assured about dealing with NAR licensed agents.

As a realtor you will also receive many benefits, other than just recognition.

You have access to multiple listing services, which allow you to sell homes listed for sale by other agents, and in turn they can introduce more buyers to your listings.

Realtors are also expected to participate in continuing education courses throughout their career.

Many of these courses have a focus on ethics as well as consumer protection.

Realtor Job Description

When you become a realtor, your main task will be to list and sell houses.

Your best asset in doing this will be your interpersonal skills.

Being able to understand where a person is coming from, what their motivations are, as well as their personality is all essential to securing a sale.

When you work in real estate you will learn a lot about human psychology and behavior.

Here are some of the tasks of a realtor:

  • Meet with prospective vendors and appraise their homes
  • Prepare marketing proposals
  • Prepare marketing materials and book ad space
  • Add properties to a website
  • Take prospective buyers through a home
  • Negotiate a sale price
  • Prepare contracts

Realtor Salary and Career Path

Most realtors will start out their career as an associate salesperson.

Of course, to gain this position you will need to have your real estate license, and if you wish, also be licensed with NAR.

Usually most realtors are mentored by other more experienced agents in the brokerage, until they learn the ropes.

After a little while, you’ll be out on your own.

To begin with, you will mostly sell homes listed by other agents, but with experience and networking you will be able to list homes yourself.

Many realtors go on to become real estate brokers.

To do this you will need to attain an additional license from your state.

This gives you the ability to open your own office.

Many realtors go on to work in similar jobs, these could include:

The median salary for a starting realtor is $40,000 a year, however the top 10% of earners in this industry make over $100,000 a year.

There can be a lot variation in-between.

If you’ve got sales ability, and want the opportunity to make a good salary in return for a bit of hard work, then you might like to become a realtor.

Employment prospects in this sector are good, and look to improve as the real estate market recovers.

Even in tough markets, there are plenty of opportunities in real estate for those ready to seize them.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Connecticut- NA -
District of Columbia$77,710
Mississippi- NA -
New Hampshire$48,500
New Jersey- NA -
New Mexico$51,110
New York$81,020
North Carolina$59,890
North Dakota$63,330
Rhode Island$50,720
South Carolina$53,960
South Dakota$74,560
West Virginia$58,160
Puerto Rico$50,670

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $90,390.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $90,390
New York - $81,020
Wyoming - $80,580
District of Columbia - $77,710
California - $76,440
* Salary information based on the May 2021 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

What does a realtor do?

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

If an agent is a member of the National Association of Realtors, he or she can be referred to as a ‘realtor’.

In case a real estate agent decides to become a member of the association, he agrees to always follow a set of ethics guidelines.

If a realtor breaks the code, he can be removed from NAR.

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 realtor is to either sell or buy the property at the best possible price.

Specialists charge their clients a percentage of the final deal.

How much do realtors make?

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

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

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

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

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

How much does it cost to become a realtor?

You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a realtor.

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 a real estate 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.

Real estate agents can then become realtors by applying for membership in the National Association of Realtors.
The membership will cost you around $150 per year.

What is the demand for realtors?

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.

It will be easier for a realtor to build a client base, as the clients feel like the members of NAR are more trustworthy.

How long does it take to become a realtor?

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.

You must join a local real estate association if you want to become a member of NAR.

Some associations require you to have at least a few years of experience in the field.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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