Real Estate Agent: Career Summary, Employment Outlook and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a real estate agent. Learn about job duties, employment outlook, required education and licensure to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Real Estate degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agents act as a direct line of contact for potential homeowners. They might give tours to clients interested in purchasing a home, act as liaison between buyer and seller, and help to establish a list of competitive prices for their clients. As a real estate agent, you'll need strong communication skills, as well as charisma and a natural rapport with people. It's important to note a key difference between real estate agents and brokers; brokers can operate their own businesses, while agents must work directly with a broker.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent; earning an associate's or bachelor's degree can be beneficial
Education Field of Study Real estate; economics; statistics; law
Key Responsibilities List property to sell; conduct open house events; locate houses and land; negotiate contracts
Licensure License required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $43,370*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Career Duties Be as a Real Estate Agent?

Real estate agents assist individuals in the buying and selling of property. To be a real estate agent, you must work for a licensed broker. For sellers, you list the property for sale, determine the price of the property, stage open houses and participate in contract negotiations. For home buyers, you'll determine your clients' needs, locate potential properties, accompany them to view the property, draw up contracts, participate in negotiations, and ensure that conditions of the contract are met.

What Is the Job Outlook For This Career?

Several factors may affect job growth for real estate agents. Increasingly, technology is cutting into the job of agents. Individuals can search the Internet for listings of potential properties, reducing the need for agents to perform this function. The economy also heavily impacts the real estate market; when there is a recession, sales drop, reducing the need for real estate agents. However, because the children of baby boomers are graduating and marrying, there will be an increase of couples looking to buy homes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that given these factors, real estate agents will see slower-than-average job growth of 3% through the 2014-2024 decade.

The BLS also states that the median salaries for real estate agents as of May 2015 were $43,370 annually. The state with the highest concentration of real estate agents was Florida, and the highest paying state for real estate agents was New York.

What Education Requirements Do I Need?

While there are no set educational requirements, a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate provides a strong foundation for a real estate agent. A bachelor's degree may also open opportunities for career advancement as a real estate broker. Degree programs usually include coursework in economics, statistics and law. You should also be knowledgeable about the community, tax codes, zoning laws, finance, asset management, business ethics, crime rates and area amenities. The National Association of Realtors offers information on educational opportunities and additional certification for brokers (www.realtor.org).

What Credentials Do I Need?

The BLS states that all real estate agents must be licensed. To earn your license, you must complete an exam and have completed a training program. Typically, these licenses require continuing education credits and renewal every 1-2 years. Check with your state's licensing commission for exact requirements.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As mentioned above, real estate brokers hire real estate agents. For those interested in owning and operating a business, a career as a real estate broker could be worthwhile. Most brokers start out as real estate agents, and like agents, they're required to take pre-licensure courses and pass a licensing exam. Other relevant sales positions include those of insurance sales agents, advertising sales agents, or managers of property, real estate, and community associations. None of these positions require anything more than a high school diploma to enter the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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