There is so much to gain by becoming a real estate agent. There's the exhilaration of being your own boss, the warmth of finding the right kind of home for buyers, and the joy of helping a homeowner find a good buyer for their home. Of course, there's also the commission that you are going to get from the sale!
Becoming a real estate agent is exciting, but it doesn't happen overnight. It's a job that requires specific knowledge. Before you can be a real estate agent, you need to have a license. Prior to acquiring a license, you need to attain a pre-licensing education. And remember - real estate is a state-regulated occupation and so the requirements, for education and for the acquiring of license, vary by state.
The pre-licensing courses to become a real estate agent conform to the regulations issued by individual states. The length of the credit hours required varies. Here's an example from the six largest states in the U.S.:
California – 160 credit hours
Florida – 63 credit hours
Illinois – 90 credit hours
New York – 75 credit hours
Pennsylvania – 60 credit hours
Texas – 180 credit hours
You need to be 18 or 19 years old, at least a high school graduate and a legal resident of the United States before you can qualify for the pre-licensing course. These courses are college level and focused on the fundamentals of real estate. The topics covered range from fiduciary responsibilities, types of property ownership, fair housing laws, property taxes and state regulations.
The licensing exam, regulated by the state, must also be passed before you are qualified to get a license. However, you must be sponsored by a real estate broker and you and the broker must complete the last of the paperwork before you can get the license. Many states also require you to have continuing education courses every two years so your license can remain active.
Other courses for real estate agents
If you are about to enter college and foresee that working in the real estate business is for you, you have several options to get full academic degrees. You can choose from an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree in real estate. The first thing you have to do is find an accredited school, many of which offer onsite and online courses. If you are already working as a real estate agent and want to further your studies, this is for you, too!
1. Associate's degree
This is the shortest route if you are after a college degree in real estate. The course takes two years to finish. This will give you a good head start. You can sit for the state licensing exam after graduation and work in a real estate broker's office. You have the educational credential in your resume and can add to it by further studies.
2. Bachelor’s degree
More real estate companies are hiring college graduates because the responsibilities and financial transactions involved in real estate sales are becoming more complex. A bachelor's degree in real estate will also allow you to advance into more specific business areas like commercial real estate. You can also choose to focus on finance, business administration, marketing or real estate. At the same time, you can take additional subjects, such as environmental issues, ethics, land-use planning and real estate laws, which will be beneficial if you see yourself establishing your own real estate company later.
Master's degrees for real estate prepare individuals for a more serious full time career that can lead to being a broker or a commercial real estate developer.
3. Master of Business Administration (MBA)
If your goal is to establish a life-long career in real estate, getting an MBA is a good option. While this is a general business master's degree, you can choose specific programs related to real estate for your specialization, such as:
- Urban systems
- Real estate development
- Real estate capital markets
and complement this with other courses to broaden your knowledge, such as:
- Sovereign wealth funds
- Hedge funds
- Sales and trading
4. Master’s degree in real estate development (MRED)
If your goal is to be a real estate developer, this is the tool to succeed. You have two choices here. You can either study for a Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) or Master in Real Estate Development (MRED). This master's degree will train you on the intricacies and complexities of long-term profitability projections, construction costs and financing. Some of the courses for MRED are:
- Real estate law for developers
- Advanced financial analysis for commercial real estate
- Design of the built environment
- Real estate market analysis
Being a real estate agent can be glamorous and offer you huge incentives once you're established. Be prepared to invest time and money to your training to get a license and continue learning, because it is the only way to succeed in the business.