Real estate agents make a good living and can do so with no college degree. However, as you begin exploring your career options in real estate, you are likely to notice that there are both college degree programs in real estate and real estate job listings that require or prefer a degree. That’s because, although a degree isn’t strictly required to work in real estate, having one can often be beneficial – especially if you want to work in roles that confer more responsibility, such as real estate broker or manager. Some form of education is needed to become a real estate agent, although that education doesn’t have to be offered through a college or university.
Why You Don’t Need a Degree to Be a Real Estate Agent
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What you must have to be a real estate agent is a license awarded by the state or states in which you work, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In most states, this means meeting an age requirement, completing some prelicensing real estate courses, earning a passing score on a professional licensing exam and potentially undergoing a background check. You generally don’t, however, need a formal college degree to get this license.
You may choose to take real estate relicensing courses at community colleges or four-year colleges, but many of these programs are offered through separate real estate schools. The length of your prelicensing coursework is usually measured in hours and varies from state to state. However, real estate prelicensing programs can often be completed in as little as 3 to 8 weeks of study. A degree, on the other hand, would take years of your time and potentially a great deal of money. Common topics covered in real estate prelicensing courses include the principles and practices of real estate sales, real estate economics, real estate finance, business and real estate law, appraisal, escrows, mortgage loan lending, real estate computer applications and property management.
You can also enroll in additional exam prep courses as you get ready to take your real estate sales agent licensing examination.
Why You Might Want a Degree, Anyway
Although not mandatory, a degree in real estate can still offer a lot of benefits. In some instances, the real estate courses you take during college fulfill the prelicensing course requirements that you would have needed to take anyway, the BLS reported. They also provide a much more thorough education in the concepts, practices and skills needed to work in real estate successfully. Additionally, the fact that you put in the time, work and dedication to earn a degree could make you a more appealing candidate to real estate offices or brokers. If you want to be self-employed, will add to your credentials as clients choose whether to work with you or your competition.
It’s not only the specialized real estate courses you take in college that are beneficial in this career path. The basic business courses that often have a place in a real estate curriculum are valuable when handling financial aspects of the real estate business and using your leadership skills to guide clients and negotiations to reach deals. Courses in communication, writing and literature can help you become better at writing sales descriptions, thinking critically about problems and spoken and written communication with clients, other agents, mortgage lenders, title companies and the full array of other professionals involved in the business of buying and selling properties. If you use foreign language courses to develop proficiency in another language – especially one that is popular in the region in which you plan to work – you will be better equipped to overcome language barriers that arise in the course of your work.
Statistically, realtors with a college degree make a considerable amount – 30 percent – more than their peers without a formal education, according to the National Association of REALTORS. Although realtors typically work on commission, this earnings increase is widely considered to be due to educated, experienced realtors having the superior skills that allow them to work more efficiently, closing more deals in the same amount of work time.
A bachelor’s degree isn’t among the three educational qualifications most common for real estate sales agents, but it is for real estate brokers, among whom 37 percent report having this degree. Nevertheless, bachelor’s degrees are increasingly preferred, the BLS reported.