Do Real Estate Agents Need a Degree?

Are you thinking about a career in real estate? It may be a good choice, especially if you're a go-getter with a great network of people and a knack for sales. There are a number of different opportunities in the industry, but one of the most popular is, by far, the real estate agent. This is the first professional that comes to mind when people think about buying and selling their properties. But just what does it take to become an agent? This article outlines the kind of education and training you need if you fancy a career as a real estate agent and want to work with a brokerage firm.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents bring buyers and sellers together for real estate transactions.
  • While you don't need a college degree to become a real estate agent, many firms appreciate individuals who have one.
  • Taking real estate courses is required in order to get a real estate license.

The Basics of a Career in Real Estate

Real estate agents are individuals who bring buyers and sellers together for real estate transactions. They handle negotiations between all parties involved. Most agents specialize in residential or commercial real estate.

Regardless of who they work for—whether that's a buyer or a seller—real estate agents require a great deal of marketing, sales, networking, and people skills. Some of the duties of a real estate agent who works with sellers include helping clients to prepare and price properties, marketing and listing properties for sale, being available for viewings, and working with attorneys to close deals. Some agents may also advise their clients on how to get better offers for their properties including making certain structural or cosmetic improvements, as well as how to stage a home or commercial space to appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Agents who work for buyers help them find the right property and negotiate a good price for their clients.

Some agents may choose to work independently, but others are often affiliated with a larger firm such as a real estate agency or brokerage. Agents don't earn a salary and generally rely solely on commissions. That means they only earn money if and when they make a sale. The commission an agent earns is normally split between them and the other party's agent, and then with the firm they represent. Let's say two agents act in the sale of a $200,000 home and the commission is 6%. Each agent earns $6,000—half of $12,000. If the firm of one agent has a 60/40 split, then the agent earns $3,600, with the firm taking $2,400. According to, agents earned on average $47,925 each year.


6 Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent

Education and Training

So how do you become an agent? In most cases, you don't require a college degree to become a real estate agent, but it does help potential career job seekers stay competitive and relevant. An associate or bachelor's degree is more than sufficient—perhaps in business, finance, or any other related field.

If you're really invested in the field, why not consider a degree in real estate? Having one provides a number of benefits to understand the financial and business relevancy in this field. Completing a degree gives agents a solid foundation in the basics of buying and selling real estate, allowing you to make more informed decisions about properties, mortgages, interest rates, and stay on top of the latest trends in the industry.

Holding a degree often makes potential agents more attractive to real estate brokerage firms. Since working with a brokerage company or licensed broker is a requirement to practice real estate, potential agents will need to fulfill the educational requirements of top brokerage firms. While some provide the necessary training, others require agents to have the knowledge and completed training before they hire any agents.

You can't sell real estate unless you're licensed in that particular state.


If you decide to skip the academic degree, you're not off the hook. You do need to be licensed in your state in order to become a real estate agent. Before you get your license, you will need to take some real estate courses. Since there's no national mandate, the requirements vary by state, so it's important to check with the real estate board in your state about what you'll need to qualify. Once you complete the courses, you can write your exam. When you pass, all you have to do is send your application and fees to the state board. After your application is approved, the board will send your certificate by mail. Your name will be added to a list of licensed agents, which is searchable online.