The sale or purchase of a home is a complex and sometimes confusing transaction. Real estate brokers and agents are the individuals who help homeowners handle the intricate details of this important milestone.
A real estate broker is licensed to manage his or her own real estate business, with real estate agents working under the supervision and direction of the real estate brokers. Though real estate brokers and sales agents are not required to have a degree, the increasing complexity of real estate laws is leading employers to seek out those who pursue higher education in the real estate field.
Popular real estate training
There are many different types of online business degrees available for those who want to pursue real estate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among the most popular are the Bachelor's of Science in Real Estate and the Master of Business Administration in Real Estate Studies.
Associate degrees and certificate programs in real estate are offered through universities, colleges and community colleges. Though a doctorate degree in real estate is less common, some universities offer this program as well. If a person intends to run his or her own real estate business, a degree in marketing or accounting might also be a good choice.
Other careers that can be pursued with a real estate degree include real estate appraiser, consultant, loan officer and real estate attorney - a career which also requires a law degree.
No matter the degree level, every real estate sales agent or broker must be licensed. According to the BLS, licensing requirements vary from state to state, but most states require between 30 and 90 hours of instruction in order to take the exam for a general sales license. In order to obtain a broker's license, an additional 60 to 90 hours of formal training is required.
Brokers must also have some experience selling real estate, usually between one and three years, though some states waive that requirement for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in real estate.
According to the BLS, real estate brokers made a mean annual wage of $76,060 in 2010. Real estate agents made a mean annual wage of $52,490.
What to expect from a real estate career
Real estate agents and brokers must be familiar with zoning laws, sale and tax requirements, and the legal implications of selling and buying real estate. Those in real estate often handle the transaction from the initial contact through the sale, though attorneys are usually called upon to handle the legal details of the closing. Agents and brokers often work long or odd hours, including evenings and weekends.
According to the BLS, the best candidates for a real estate career are mature, trustworthy, honest and enthusiastic. Good organization skills and attention to detail are helpful. A good knowledge of the area, a pleasant attitude and a neat appearance can offer an edge in the very competitive real estate market.
Real estate agents and brokers must keep up with new laws and requirements with regular continuing education. Online real estate degrees offer the advantage of flexible scheduling and working at a comfortable pace, as well as the ease of taking continuing education courses at convenient times.
Real estate at a glance
- Careers: Degree holders often work as real estate agents, real estate brokers, appraisers or consultants
- Continuing education: Online real estate degrees can make continuing education easy
- Salaries: Real estate agents made a mean annual wage of $52,490 in 2010; real estate brokers made $76,060