What Does a Career in Real Estate Entail?
Real estate agents—sales agents and brokers—have a range of choices for their future careers. They may decide to enter the construction and architecture side of the field, where they become deeply involved in commercial real estate: or planning and building commercial properties.
If you want to represent owners, tenants, buyers, and sellers, you must pass an exam and be licensed by the states in which you plan to work. Residential agents work solely with single-occupancy homes and multi-occupancy buildings. For a fee, which you receive when the property is sold, you represent either the buyer or seller.Read More
If you concentrate on commercial brokerage, you’ll need more specialized technical business knowledge and strong people skills. You should hold at least a bachelor’s degree—a master’s degree is much more preferable.
Business Degrees & Career Paths
Components of a Successful Career in Real Estate
A successful real estate agent at any level, and in any specialty, can find work opportunities in most communities and real estate firms. Listen closely to any industry mentors you may have.
You’ll need to become a skilled networker and relationship builder. You’ll meet many professionals and customers who will appreciate it when you listen to them. Join professional real estate organizations and network with the association members who impress you the most. In time, you’ll find that you have at least a handshake connection with someone from almost every real estate firm in your community.
Learn how to “active listen.” You’ll listen more than you’ll speak. As you listen, make note of the nonverbal cues being given by your customers. Learn how to reflect back to them what they have told you, using your own words.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent
What Can You Do with a Degree in Real Estate?
You’ll help buyers and sellers of real estate as they try to buy or sell property. If you are a broker, you’ll hold a license that allows you to manage your own business. If you’re a sales agent, you’ll be required by law to work under the guidance of a real estate broker.
Some of your duties will include the following:
- You’ll approach potential clients who are seeking to rent, buy, or sell
- Generate property lists for sale
- Advise clients on mortgages, prices, and market conditions
- Present purchase offers to sellers
- Promote properties for sale with open houses, listing services, and advertising
- Facilitate buyer-seller negotiations
- Prepare legal documents
Typical Real Estate Degree Requirements
Before you enter a real estate program at your college, study what the degree requirements are. You need to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) and take several required courses.
If you’re in an undergraduate or graduate business major with a real estate concentration, plan on taking the majority of your courses in your declared major. The courses in your real estate concentration may only come to 20 or 24 credit hours, with the rest of your credits making up your general education classes and your major’s core classes.
Typical Real Estate Certifications Needed
Once you graduate, rest for a few weeks, then begin studying to take your real estate licensing exam. You’ll be required to take the exam that your state’s licensing board requires.
You’ll study and learn about real estate brokerage, ethics, and license law—all important topics for real estate agents of any specialty and level to learn. Specifically, you’ll learn about agencies and ethics, federal and state housing laws, titles, deeds and ownership restrictions, real estate brokerage operations, and license law. Once you pass, you’ll receive your state’s real estate license to practice. Take real estate contact credit hours so you can stay current and renew your license as often as state law requires.
Academic Standards for a Real Estate Degree
At a minimum, you need a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED). If you already have your high school diploma, then some years of real estate-related work experience may suffice for entry-level to become a sales or leasing agent.
Real estate agencies may prefer to hire college-educated real estate agents who will work in a commercial management position. An agent at this level may also work away from the real estate agency in contract management or property finance. As a college graduate, you should hold either a bachelors or master’s degree in business administration, finance, real estate, or public administration.
Exam/Experience Needed for a Real Estate Degree
The minimal qualifications for a new real estate sales agent or broker are: 18 years old, passed a licensing exam, and completed several real estate courses.
Depending on your state, you may have to pass a background check. You should also have earned one to three years of prior experience as a sales agent if you are planning to become a broker. Once you earn your license, you may not be able to transfer it from one state to another.
Once you have your license, you aren’t done learning. you’ll have to take those continuing education courses to renew your license. Renewal generally takes place every two to four years.
Important Questions to Ask
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Real Estate Bachelor’s Degree Online?
Your courses may last for five weeks, depending on the online program you are attending and you may have to accrue up to 120 credits. Of these, 40 or more credits must be in general education. Credits in your real estate major may total between 40 and 50, with electives using up between 35 and 40 credits.
You’ll be required to earn a minimum number of upper-division credits. In all, your online program should last about four years, depending on how many credit hours you take per term.
How Much Does a Real Estate Bachelor’s Degree Cost?
Depending on your college, you may pay approximately $212 per credit hour. If you take a full course load of 12 to 15 credits, your semester tuition will range from $2,547 to $3,184. If you are an out-of-state student, your semester’s tuition will range from $8,988 to $11,235.
Real Estate Bachelor’s Degree Coursework
Once you have completed your required general education courses, you’ll enter your declared major. Taking your classes at an accredited institution means your classwork and professors will be of the highest quality.
You’ll begin your real estate coursework with some accounting and marketing basics, as well as more in depth economics courses and business fundamentals. Next, you’ll take some more complex classes on business tools and statistical methods or calculus. Your advanced courses will include accounting courses for decision makers, management basics, and more marketing. You might finish your degree with some insights into career development, legal and ethical standards, supply chain and operations training, and interview techniques so you’re ready to get out there and get to work.
Does the School Have the Major You’re Considering?
If you’re one of those lucky students who already knows what you want to major in, your work isn’t done. Not every business program at every university offers real estate as a concentration or even a major.
Get copies of each undergraduate course catalog from each school you’re considering—for face-to-face classes as well as online. Check the table of contents for “real estate” as a major or concentration. If you don’t find it in the table of contents, browse carefully through the college/school of business and read carefully through each major the program offers.
Set aside the catalogs of each university listing real estate in its pages. These are the ones for which you’ll be requesting admission.
How Many Students Graduate “On Time,” in Four Years?
This question is important, but not for the reasons you may think. If your university believes you’re lagging in your program, you may be penalized. If you go beyond four years, you may not be able to access scholarship or grant money—in fact, you may be forced to apply for student loans.
Follow the advice of your program advisor. Take the courses they suggest when they recommend them. Ask them about taking more than the minimum full-time course load. Instead of taking only 12 credit hours, structure your semester schedule so you can take 15. Decrease your working hours, if at all possible. Rely more on work-study.
By taking a full course-load (usually 15 credit hours/semester), you may be able to complete your degree in four years or even less. If this isn’t always possible, consider taking classes during summer sessions. Take only one class per summer session and you’ll be able to earn a better grade.
What Kind of Accreditation Does the Program Hold? How is it Regarded in the Field?
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB, is the premier accrediting agency for schools of business. Accreditation from AACSB is highly sought after, not only in the U.S., but around the world. Check the accreditation your school has. Also, be sure to make sure that the accreditation they have covers your program. Some accreditation is program specific, so you have to do your research.
Accreditation means that the professors, program and course materials are of the highest quality. During your time in school and beyond graduation, you will benefit from having enrolled into an accredited business school.
Information technology is making itself felt in the real estate profession. With computers and internet technology, brokers, sales agents and customers are able to learn much more about homes they want to buy or sell. While 10 years ago the belief was that real estate agents would become extinct, the reverse is true. Their numbers have increased because clients need their real estate expertise.
New apps may be helping sellers and buyers know how to price their homes or quote when they make an offer. Even real estate agents are benefiting when they scan comparative market analyses (comparables) as they help clients to better price their homes for sale.
Real estate agents can’t rely on technology to help them interact with clients. Those old-fashioned skills are still best when practiced by living people. They include: communication, active listening, reading social cues, negotiation skills, patience, and an ability to be tactful.
At the associate’s level, a Real Estate Associate of Applied Science will be required to meet their state’s level of success standards by taking and passing course prerequisites. To be eligible for their degree, they must earn a minimum of 25% of the credit hours required for graduation from that community college.
The program itself was created so students develop the basic skills needed by successful real estate agents. They should be able to make decisions in their daily work. While graduates at this level will be able to take and pass a certification exam, they will be sales agents, not brokers.
- Principles of Real Estate, I
- Principles of Real Estate, II
- Law of Agency
- Business Principles Composition, I
- Real Estate Marketing
- Law of Contracts
- Introduction to Speech
- Communication or Public Speaking
- Real Estate Finance
- Math Elective
- Real Estate Mathematics
- General Psychology
- Real Estate Appraisal
- Humanities/Fine Arts Elective, plus additional courses.
At the bachelor’s level, students majoring in real estate are business majors. Some universities may require real estate students to major in Finance and take real estate as a concentration. Still other universities may require their Finance majors to satisfy additional admission requirements.
Before business majors who have chosen real estate as an option can begin their major courses, they are required to complete a specific number of general education hours. These are classes in Math, English, History, and Government. In addition, they are required to take Business Law, Economics, and Information Systems classes to satisfy several requirements for general education credits.
- Introduction to Financial Accounting
- Introduction to Managerial Accounting
- Business Law
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Business Communication in its Rhetorical Contexts
- Information Systems for Business Users
- Mathematics Methods for Business
- Basic Business Statistics
- Business Capstone
- Financial Management (upper division)
- Management and Organizational Behavior
- Marketing Management
- Operations Management and additional courses
When business students reach the masters level, they may already have a significant amount of real-life experience if they have been working in a real estate office after earning their bachelor’s degree. At this level, graduate programs work to prepare eventual real estate leaders. They encourage innovative, critical thinking that is backed by fundamental principles.
Using both practical approaches and theoretical studies, students will discuss several real estate issues, working on improving problem-solving skills as they are guided by several affiliate faculty members who, outside the university, are real estate leaders.
- Introduction to Real Estate
- Financial Modeling for Real Estate, I
- Financial Modeling for Real Estate, II
- Real Estate Appraisal
- Real Estate Finance and Investment
- Real Estate Economics & Market Analysis
- Real Estate Law, I
- Asset Management
- Leadership in the Built Environment
- Negotiations & Conflict Resolution
- Best Practices in Sustainable Real Estate
Some Concentrations for a Bachelor’s/Master’s in Real Estate
At the bachelor’s level, real estate is considered to be a concentration or specialization for an umbrella major, such as Finance.
- Real Estate Development, teaching students how to manage the work of several contractors and consultants.
- Global Real Estate, in which students learn to understand and work with rapid globalization of the industry.
- Real Estate Finance, where students become conversant with real estate financial topics (investment, structured finance, portfolio management, capital markets, corporate real estate, taxation, and entrepreneurship).
- Construction Management, teaching students to understand the basic principles of design and construction. They learn the construction process and which contracting method to use so they can divide risk and rewards between project partners.
Associate’s Bachelor’s Master’s with Cost Range for Each
|Business||$3,897, incl. books, supplies||$500-$610/cr. hr. (No out-of-state tuition)||$705/1-11 cr. hrs (part-time)|
$7,920/12+ cr. hrs (full-time)
$1,080/cr. hrs (out-of-state)
Earning an associate’s in real estate is a big accomplishment, with a corresponding annual salary. If you look at earning a real estate degree at the bachelor’s or master’s level, you’ll see that real estate agents earn more at each educational level.
This profession is potentially highly lucrative, especially if you decide to move into the master’s level—where you learn material that allows you to be much more influential in developing a community, housing, or business complexes. The median annual salary for a real estate agent who earned bachelor’s degree is $56,000; for a real estate agent holding a masters, it’s $76,000.
Real Estate Fields of Study Median Salaries
|Entry-Level Median Annual Salary||Mid-Level Median Annual Salary|
Fields of Study
Real estate sales agents and brokers seek out properties for sale. They buy, then sell or rent each property they hold or own. Brokers, who have additional knowledge and experience, hold a license to manage their own businesses; sales agents can’t do this. Instead, they work with a licensed broker.
They advise clients on mortgages, market conditions, prices, and other pertinent information. They also promote available properties for their customers. They present purchase offers and mediate negotiations between buyers and sellers.
Real Estate Salaries by Occupation
Intro for Salary by Occupation
Real estate agents are in the business of selling. So are cashiers. While the job role is similar, it varies from one profession to the other. Cashiers don’t need any formal education. Their median annual pay is a little more than $21,000.
Advertising sales agents do need a high school diploma—they sell advertising space to individuals and businesses, interact with clients, create presentations, and maintain client accounts. Their median annual salary is a little more than $49,000.
Sales engineers are expected to have their bachelor’s degrees. They sell complex technological and scientific products and services to companies in need. They need to have an extensive knowledge of what they are selling. Their median annual salary is $98,720.
Real estate brokers and sales agents rent, buy, and sell anything related to real estate properties. The roles of sales agents are different from those of brokers. Their median annual salary is $43,092 (entry-level); the median annual salary of a broker is $48,316 (entry-level).
Short Description of Each Occupation/Job for Degree Type
Real Estate Occupations
Real estate brokers must be tested to earn a state license to manage their businesses. They are independent businesspeople, not employed by anyone else. In their daily work, they manage or rent properties for a fee from each client. They also buy and sell properties for other clients.
Real estate sales agents work with a broker, helping to sell properties for the broker’s clients. For each property they succeed in selling, they earn a fee, or commission. They are required to have knowledge of the real estate market in their area, so they will be successful in helping clients sell properties.
Real Estate Occupations
|Entry-Level Median Annual Salary||Mid-Level Median Annual Salary||Late-Career Median Annual Salary|
|Real Estate Sales Agent||$23,130||$45,990||$109,490|
|Real Estate Broker||$24,160||$56,730||$151,660|
|Real Estate Appraiser||$61,300||Up to $100,000|
|Real Estate Paralegal||$41,153||$41,153||$58,825|
Real Estate Occupations
Real Estate Sales Broker
Runs their own business selling and buying homes in their community, either for individuals or other business interests.
Real Estate Sales Agent
Works with a real estate broker to buy and sell properties within their community.
Real Estate Appraiser
Appraises real estate either for individuals and businesses, or for insurance companies or even cities and states, so that they can have accurate numbers for insurance premiums and property taxes.
Real Estate Paralegal
Works with a real estate lawyer or firm, researching property provenance, leans, or other legal situations.
Commercial Real Estate Agent/Broker
This real estate agent works with a large or multinational corporation to oversee purchase and/or sale of any properties they wish to acquire or off-load. They may travel or send other appraising agents out to get a feel for the properties they are looking to purchase.
Real Estate Scholarships
SIOR Real Estate Scholarship
Students in any concentration who are juniors, seniors, or graduate students, are eligible to compete for this scholarship. The minimum grade point average (GPA) they must maintain is 3.0. To be eligible for consideration, students must be enrolled at least half-time.
There is no need to prove financial need; each award may range from $2,000 to $4,000. The award may be split in half so two students can benefit.
Students submit a short (250-500) word essay, explaining why they are interested in real estate as a career and what they intend for their career path.
Grant Center for Real Estate and Economics Programs Scholarship
This scholarship was established for students minoring in commercial and investment real estate. The scholarship amount can be as high as $5,000 per student but must not exceed the full cost of their tuition.
To qualify, the student must be in good economic standing, have a 2.75 GPA (3.5 for high school GPA for incoming freshmen). Student must also be enrolled in the Commercial and Investment Real Estate Minor through the upcoming year.
Texas Aggie Graduate Grant
This is a need-based grant for Texas residents only. Awards range up to $1,500/semester in the fall and spring, $750 per semester in the summer (maximum of $3,000 annually). May be used to defray academic expenses as students work on their real estate majors.
Davis Property Management Scholarship
This scholarship provides for real estate students’ educations. Any undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled at Texas A&M, who has future plans to pursue a career within any niche of real estate, can apply for this award.
Eligible applicants are required to submit an essay entitled, “How Do Certain Skills and Professional Networks Save Time and Money in the Real Estate Industry?” Scholarships are awarded at two levels. First place is $2,000 toward tuition and necessities; second place is $500 toward tuition and necessities.
Professional Real Estate Organizations
Association of Young Real Estate Professionals(AYREP)
AYREP is an association for young real estate professionals in Atlanta who are seeking professional, humanitarian, and social benefits. This organization allows real estate professionals to build relationships they will find beneficial, allow them a platform for professional education, and give them opportunities to contribute to the greater Atlanta area.
confers a designation on commercial real estate leaders with a record of success in this field. Realtors who have received this award have shown a mastery of market, investment analysis, and financial matters. Designees come from a wide range of backgrounds (banking, brokerage, law, property management, and accounting).
Women’s Council of Realtors(WCR)
WCR’s mission is to help women realtors to advance as leaders and professionals in their industry, businesses, and in their communities. Members are expected to demonstrate the highest standard of professionalism and help strengthen the Realtor brand in their communities. They are recognized for their success and professionalism in their chosen professional field.
Choosing an Accredited College
Accreditation shows students, employers, financial aid providers, and others that a university has worked hard to put together and offer a high-quality education.
Financial aid won’t be given to students who have enrolled in an unaccredited program; if employers don’t see proof of accreditation on a prospective employee’s transcripts, the offer of pay won’t be as high. Look for accreditations from ACBSP and AACSB, both of which are accreditation agencies that oversee colleges of business.
Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid
Online and on-campus education programs are quite different. On-campus programs are much more structured, allowing students to follow the instructor’s schedule of classes, assignments, quizzes, and exams.
Online programs can provide flexibility and access to degrees for those who already have jobs, need to stay near their families, or live in remote areas. Disadvantages of online programs include no face-to-face interaction with fellow students and instructors, fewer majors to choose from, challenges in networking, and additional responsibility placed on students.
A hybrid program draws from the best characteristics of on-campus and online programs. Students attend face-to-face events only a few times during the program; the rest takes place online. Students have access to their professors, which allows them to work on any weaknesses they may have.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help and Assistance?
Having access to a Career and Placement Services office on campus gives you the assistance you need to create a presentable resume, practice interview techniques, look for jobs, establish academic and career goals, and, in some cases, work on job placements.
Once you graduate, you may also be able to return to your college career services office, so you’ll soon find the job you’ve been working toward.
Why You Need to Consider That Rating/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary
Ranking is only as important as the criteria you use to choose a school. However, not every university makes the grade when it comes to expanding student body diversity. When you meet students whose experiences are different, it enriches who you are and what you come to believe.
Other colleges may be just as good as ranked colleges. The rankings are subjective.
Accreditation assures your future employer that the material you learned was taught by the highest-quality professors and that the program itself is also of high quality. By looking at your professional transcripts, future employers can determine the quality of your education. It’s as simple as going to the website of the Department of Education and searching.