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How To Become a Real Estate Agent

Find out how to become a real estate agent including licensing and education.

Each state has different requirements for obtaining a real estate agent license. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Each state has different requirements for obtaining a real estate agent license.

Helping people buy and sell homes can be an exciting and lucrative profession. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 432,000 real estate agents working in 2006, with a median annual salary, including commissions, of $39,760.

But first, potential agents must meet their state's educational requirements and take a test to obtain alicense, find a job and make afirst sale, all of which may take several years. Plus, even after becomoing employed as a real estate agent, agents need to continue their education to maintain a state license.

Real Estate Licensing

Each state has different requirements for obtaining a real estate agent license. You'll need to check with the licensing authority in your particular state to find out specific requirements. Generally speaking, however, the first thing you'll need is a good real estate education. Agents must be high school graduates at least 18 years old and should have at least some college experience. Many colleges and universities offer courses in real estate; business and management courses are also helpful, particularly if you want to open your own agency. Most states require between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction to qualify to take the licensing exam. The difficulty of the licensing exam varies from state to state, as do the fees involved. Check with your state's licensing commission to find out the particulars.

Working as a Real Estate Agent

Many states require real estate agents to spend their first few years working under an established real estate broker. This mentor relationship allows the agent to develop the traits that inspire trust and confidence in his or her clients. Qualities that are important for being a successful real estate agent include trustworthiness, good judgment and enthusiasm.

Making your first sale as a licensed real estate agent can take some time. Many factors go into that first sale and subsequent sales, including the real estate market, interest rates, location, eagerness of the client and, of course, the time and effort that you spend getting to know the property and marketing it for sale.

Continuing Real Estate Education

Most states require real estate agents to renew their real estate licenses every one to two years. Requirements vary from state to state, but renewal sometimes can be accomplished without retaking the licensing exam. However, every state (except New Jersey) requires a certain amount of continuing education to ensure that real estate agents stay abreast of the latest industry trends and information. The National Association of Realtors offers a comprehensive list of the requirements for each state. Some states have very specific requirements for the number of classroom hours and types of classes needed to maintain a real estate license, while others have more general or lenient requirements. Your best bet is to check with your state's licensing commission for specifics.

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