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How to Become a Real Estate Agent – 6 Steps to Success

Last updated on May 4, 2022

How to Become a Real Estate Agent - 6 Steps to Success

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Wondering how to become a real estate agent? 

You’ve come to the right place. 

Because we get it: it’s not easy to get into this industry. 

It requires time, dedication, and even financial investment on your part. 

What’s more, there are requirements you must comply with in order to reap the biggest chance of success. 

Don’t worry, though. 

In this blog, we’ve got you covered. 

We’ll show you: 

  • Why you should become a real estate agent (the mouthwatering pros of joining the industry) 
  • How to know if the real estate business is right for you (and how to know if it’s not the right fit) 
  • The 6-step process of becoming a real estate agent 
  • How long it takes to become a real estate agent 
  • Bonus material for greater success as a real estate agent 
  • And more

Let’s dive right in. 

Is It Worth It to Become a Real Estate Agent? (The Pros and Cons of Joining the Industry)  

Have any real estate agent friends? 

Sure, their lives look glamorous. 

They always seem to be free, plus they drive that awesome sports car you’ve been dreaming of forever. 

But is all that glitters really gold? 

Yes and no.

Like all career paths, being a real estate agent comes with its own pros and cons.

Here are some of them. 

(If you’re already determined to become a real estate agent, you can skip this part and jump to the 6-step process of achieving your goal.) 

The Mouthwatering Pros of Becoming a Real Estate Agent

  1. You Can Chill by the Beach While the Rest of the World Does the 9 to 5 Rat Race

Not the type of person who enjoys getting up at the same time every morning and going for a 2-hour commute through unending traffic? 

Being in the real estate industry could be the thing for you. 

That’s because as an agent, your schedule depends entirely on you. 

Want to skip a whole week of work and spend your time chilling at the seashore? 

Want to spend more time with your family and drop your kids off at school every day? 

You make the rules. 

  1. Every Day Will Be Different 

The life of a real estate agent is WAY different from the life of a regular employee. 

Instead of seeing the same office and doing the same tasks day in and day out…

…you’ll be out there meeting new people and enjoying a wide variety of experiences.

If you have an adventure-loving soul, this could be the job you fall in love with. 

  1. You Have Unlimited Earning Potential 

As a regular employee, you have a fixed salary. 

Not much can change that (unless you get that huge promotion you’ve been eyeing for ages). 

As a real estate agent, things will be different for you. 

That’s because your earnings won’t be dependent on the agreement you made with your boss. 

The more properties you sell, the more you make. 

Period. 

  1. Real Estate Agents Can Earn a Lucrative Income 

So, how much do real estate agents make? 

Of course, it depends. 

It depends on how hard you work on your business, and how much dedication and strategy you put into it. 

But on average, real estate agents earn $48,465 a year. 

On the higher end, this figure can soar up to $101, 000 a year. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Source: payscale.com

Not bad at all!

The (Not So Mouthwatering) Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Agent  

Ok, so the life of a real estate agent isn’t all sunshine and roses. 

Here are three cons to consider before joining the industry. 

  1. Not Working the 9 to 5 Isn’t Always a Great Option 

Sure, you’ll skip the “rat race” as a real estate agent.

You won’t have to set your alarm clock for 6am each day just to avoid being late for work. 

However, to please your clients and gain their trust, it’s important to make them feel that you’re always there for them. 

This means meeting them at times when it’s convenient for them, such as evenings and weekends. 

So while you might not be glued to the 9 to 5, you may find yourself working hours that you wouldn’t imagine yourself normally working. 

  1. You Won’t Have a Fixed Salary

Of course, this is great.

It means the sky’s the limit to what you can earn. 

However, it also means you’ll need to be a careful spender and know how to strategize and budget for the leaner months. 

It means you’ll always have a degree of uncertainty with your income. 

  1. The Job Can Be Stressful

Let’s face it. 

Buying a home is a complex process. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Source: quotefancy.com

It’s one of life’s biggest milestones, and your clients are sure to feel its weight. 

This means they won’t always be smiling and loving. 

At times, they’ll be cranky. They’ll be frustrated. They’ll be angry. 

As their real estate agent, it’s your job to deal with what they’re feeling and help them see through their emotions in order to make the best decision for themselves. 

If you’re not used to handling people, this could turn out to be stressful for you.  

The Bottomline: Is Becoming a Real Estate Agent Right for You? 

As we’ve seen above, the job of a real estate agent isn’t perfect. 

It will appeal to some people…

…and to others, it won’t. 

To determine if it’s right for you, ask yourself:

  • Do I want a job handling different people in different stages of life? 
  • Is working with people my passion? 
  • Am I able to deal with a fluctuating income? 
  • Am I excited to work a flexible schedule, where I decide which hours to work based on my clients’ needs? 

The truth is, being a real estate agent is exciting. 

Here’s a quote to prove it.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Source: blog.hubspot.com

However, it’s not for everyone. 

Before you proceed into this career, make sure it’s the right fit for your personality and the kind of lifestyle that’ll give you the most fulfillment.  

How to Become a Real Estate Agent – The Failproof 6-Step Process

Yes, the road to becoming a real estate agent isn’t a walk in the park. 

It’ll take time, dedication, and a small financial investment on your part. 

But you can do it! 

If you feel certain the life of a real estate agent is the one for you, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. 

Plus…there’s a failproof 6-step process that’ll uncomplicate everything so you can go in a straight line towards your dream. 

Here it is: 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #1: Understand Your State’s Requirements 

Ok, here’s the thing. 

Different states have different requirements for real estate agents. 

There’s no such thing as a national license.

For instance, check out Alabama’s real estate license requirements…

Source: realestatelicensetraining.com

…and compare it with Iowa’s. 

real estate license training

Source: realestatelicensetraining.com 

For a full list of real estate requirements for each state, go here.

The good news is that some states have reciprocal licensing agreements with other states. 

This means that you can get a license in one state and use it in another without taking additional exams. 

For instance, if you get your license in New York, you can use it in nine other states: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, Colorado, and Arkansas. 

Keep in mind that not only the requirements, but also the process of gaining your license, will be different from state to state. 

For example, California requires you to complete 135 hours of a pre-licensing course, while Alaska only requires you to complete 40. 

Again, check out our resources listing requirements for every state here. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #2: Take a Pre-Licensing Course

Before diving in and taking your licensing exams, you’ll need to take a pre-licensing course. 

Remember: in most states, this isn’t optional. 

Plus, licensing exams are long and technical (up to 100 questions), so you don’t want to waste your time and resources in a guessing game. 

Don’t worry, though. 

Most states allow you to take your pre-licensing course online, which allows you freedom and flexibility. 

Here are three schools we recommend:

  1. Aceable Agent

Aceable Agent

Source: aceableagent.com 

Want to skip the tedium that usually comes with studying? 

You’ll love Aceable Agent

That’s because this online school provides a mixture of great course content and laugh-out-loud humor. 

Aceable Agent offers pre-licensing courses for different states, each one customized to fit each state’s requirements. 

The best part? 

You can complete your course entirely online and at your own pace, so you don’t have to worry that life will get in the way of your dreams to become a real estate agent. 

(Note: Pricing ranges from $100-$525, depending on the state you choose.) 


  1. Real Estate Express 

Real Estate Express

Source: realestateexpress.com 

Real Estate Express is easily one of the best online real estate schools out there. 

And the best part?

Their courses are approved in a LOT of states. 

Real Estate Express can get you 

Another thing that’s great about Real Estate Express is that you can choose to learn only the basics, or go all out and get help on exam preparation. 

Here’s a look at some of their courses and what they include. 

Real Estate Express

Source: realestateexpress.com

Pricing ranges from $375-$499, but as you can see above, you can grab great discounts if you sign up at the right time. 

(Note: all coursework can be completed online.) 


  1. Mbition

Mbition

Source: mbitiontolearn.com

Mbition is a real estate licensing school offering you everything you need to achieve your dream to become a real estate agent. 

It has pre-licensing courses, exam preparation, and even continuing education and post-licensing courses. 

All courses are carried out completely online, so you don’t have to worry about disrupting your lifestyle to prepare for your exams.  


How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #3: Take (And Pass) a Licensing Exam

Ok, now for the fun part!

After completing your pre-licensing course, you’ll be more than ready to take your real estate licensing exams.

Note: You might not have to complete the whole course to take the exams. Just make sure you’re ready before diving in. Also, check with your state to see if it allows you to take your exams before completing your mandatory pre-licensing course hours. Some states do allow this, while others require you to complete all your course hours before attempting to pass the exams. 

What to expect from your licensing exams:

You’ll be required to take a two-part exam. One part consists of national principles and laws, while the other is more state-specific. 

Your scores on both exams will be added up.

Remember, different states have different passing scores, so check first to see your state’s specific requirements. 

(Example: Maryland only requires you to get a 70% score, while Massachussettes requires you to get 75%.)

We know, passing your licensing exams is easier said than done.

That’s why it’s essential to prepare as well as you can before taking the exams. (The quality online schools we mentioned above will help greatly.) 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #4: Activate Your License

Ok, so you’ve passed your licensing exams. 

Congratulations!

This isn’t an easy feat, so take time to give yourself a pat on the back. Pop the cork on a bottle of champagne, maybe. Or dance around to a victory song. 

Afterwards, it’s time to move on to the next step. 

Because here’s the thing: passing your licensing exams doesn’t mean you can dive right in and sell property as a licensed real estate agent. 

Before that, you’ll need to activate your license. 

To begin, get a copy of your exam results. You’ll also need to fill out an application form and pay some fees (around $100-$200). Some states will require you to get a background check as well. 

Submit all of these requirements to your state’s real estate authority.

Check out this resource for more information. 

Arello

Source: arello.org 

If your application gets approved, you’ll receive your real estate license in the mail. 

This includes a certificate with your name on it, as well as listing in the section of the state’s website that includes licensees. 

Once you have your license in your hands, you’re ready to get down to business! 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #5: Find a Brokerage 

Like all careers, the real estate industry requires you to go through a process step by step. 

This means that even if you have a real estate license, you can’t immediately become an independent agent. 

For the first 1-2 years, you’ll need to find a brokerage to sponsor you. 

How it works:

  • Apply for sponsorship at a brokerage (this can be a larger national franchise, a smaller boutique-style brokerage, or a virtual brokerage, which works completely online). 
  • Agree on commission split. If your application is approved, you’ll need to come to an agreement with the brokerage on fees and commissions. Some brokerages require a 50% split on revenue with cheaper desk and tech fees on your part. Others will give you as much as 70-100% of the revenue you earn, but require higher desk and tech fees. 
  • Start promoting yourself. Once you’re settled in a good brokerage, it’s time to start printing out those business cards or building that website. Remember, the harder you work, the greater gains you’ll achieve. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent Step #6: Consider Becoming a Realtor

As mentioned above, your success as a real estate agent depends on how hard you work.

Once you’ve gained your license and settled in a brokerage, the next step is to consider getting certified as a broker. 

This entails joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which requires you to take separate exams. 

Sure, it’ll be another step on your journey. 

But it’ll also mean the chance for greater success. 

That’s because you’ll get access to other realtors’ listings (through the MLS or Multiple Listing Services), as well as:

  • Tools to help you grow your business
  • Data, research, and statistics on the real estate industry 
  • Programs geared towards improving your business
  • Education opportunities
  • And more

How Long Does It Take To Become a Real Estate Agent?

Quick answer: it depends on you.

It depends on how fast you can complete your coursework and pass your exams. 

In general, though, it’ll take you around three to six months to gain your license. 

After that, you’ll need brokerage sponsorship for the next 1-2 years. 

Once that’s done, you’ll be ready to go independent (which is when you can see huge success in the field). 

Bottom line? 

  • 3-6 months to gain your license
  • 1-2 years before becoming an independent real estate agent

How to Become a Real Estate Agent: What You Need for Success 

Dreaming of the glamorous life of a real estate agent?

You’re not alone. 

That’s because a ton of people long for the free, flexible, lucrative career of an agent. 

A ton of people want to skip the tedious 9 to 5 and design the lifestyle of their dreams. 

Remember, though, that like all careers, it’ll take a ton of hard work. 

You’ll need to follow the steps on how to become a real estate agent. 

You’ll need a small financial investment, as well as time set aside to go through your coursework. 

What you’ll need most of all, however, is passion and dedication. 

With these two powerhouses in your back pocket, you’ll rise above all obstacles and conquer your dream career and lifestyle. 

We believe you can do it, and you should too! 

Image credits:

All screenshots taken by the author, January 2022. 

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