People call and ask about getting a real estate license. It isn't hard to do, doesn't cost all the much and can be done in about a month. There are ninety hours of education and a test. The total cost for licensing is about $900. Once the courses are taken and the test is passed most new licensees . . that is what they call us . . . don't have a clue as to how to write a purchase agreement of how to list a home. That all comes later with experience. The classes are more about rules and preparation for a test. The point of the test seems to be to trick people into flunking so they have to take it again. It doesn't test knowledge as well as it tests test taking ability.
Getting a brokers license requires thirty hours of classes and a licensing test but only persons who have had real estate licenses for a minimum of two years are eligible. The advantage to having a brokers license is that you don't have to work under a broker unless you want to and it looks classy on business cards.
We don't become Realtors until we join the national association of Realtors. Being a Realtor isn't an occupation it is what we call someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and as an aside there is no "i" in the word Realtor, many pronounce it "reel-it-ter". We have to belong to the association if we want access to the MLS.
Getting started in the business is kind of the opposite of finding a job. The best strategy is to interview real estate companies and chose the one that seems like the best fit. For new agents training is important and no you don't get paid training, you pay for it. Most agents are independent contractors. Real estate companies don't pay agents wages, we get paid a commission when we sell real estate and the sale closes. It is called working on a commission basis and there is no base salary.
The next question people like to ask is if this is a good time to get into the real estate business. My answer is maybe. The hardest job a real estate agent has is finding clients. It takes time in the business to build that client base. The housing market is not nearly as strong as it was when I started but there are always opportunities. My philosophy is that there is enough business to go around and when there is little business it all adds up to a lot of business for some.
Being a Realtor isn't for everyone. Most who fail simply run out of money and need to find a job to pay their bills. There are monthly expenses that have to be paid like membership to the MLS, phone bills, software subscriptions and marketing expenses. In addition we pay for lock boxes, signs, business cards, printing, copies, postage stamps, web sites and more.
There is never a shortage of Realtors. During times of high unemployment more people join our ranks. There are always more real estate agents than there is business. Some sell part-time and have other jobs and some keep their licenses but don't actually sell any more. About 20% of the licensed agents have 80% of the local business. I believe anyone can be in that 20% if they are willing to work at it every day.
For those who are interested in a career in real estate I would say that you should ignore the hype and the get rich quick schemes that don't work and ask yourself if you are motivated enough to be self employed and tough enough to keep at it until you can make a living. It is hard work but the payoff is a certain amount of freedom and a life style that you really can't have if you work for someone else. The downside is no steady paycheck and no benefits . . there are benefits but health insurance and vacation pay are not among them. There are other downsides like the risks of being sued and the hours can be brutal if you let the business run your life instead of running the business and having a life.