Career Opportunities in Real Estate
What exactly can you do with a real estate license? The first thing that comes to mind is probably helping people buy and sell houses—and you're not wrong. After all, 5.34 million existing homes were sold in 2018, and that's a lot of work to go around. But real estate is a big industry with a lot of niches. We've put together a list of careers that a real estate license can lead to. They vary widely in structure, flexibility, clientele, and education investment. There's something for everyone!
Residential Real Estate AgentBeing a residential real estate agent is the most common job in real estate. The job can be flexible and allows for a part-time option, but your hours are largely dictated by your clients' availability. That can mean evenings and weekends. There are two roles you can play: listing agent (also known as "seller's agent") and buyer's agent. Some agents do both. A listing agent helps a seller market and show their home, consider offers, and finalize the sale. A buyer's agent finds properties that meet a client's needs. They also facilitate showings, offers, and agreements, but they advocate for the buyer. Either way, most agents work on commission. The amount you receive is a little complicated—check out our great guide on How Commissions Work. To become a residential agent, you need to earn your real estate license. The process that varies from state to state, but in all cases, you can take the courses online, at your own pace. A note on alternate titles: a Realtor® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.® You may also buy a house from an Associate Broker (or Broker's Associate). These are agents who level up to a broker's license but continue to focus on sales. They often earn better commission splits. Average Salary (in the form of commissions): $47,046*
Commercial Real Estate AgentBecoming a commercial real estate agent is higher stakes and harder to get into. Agents still play the role of listing agent, buyer's agent, or both. But instead of homes, commercial agents facilitate the sale of office buildings, retail sites, and large apartment complexes. Less common sub-specialties include industry, manufacturing, farm, or land. In residential real estate, your clients are individuals or families. In commercial, they're businesses or investors. They expect agents to be fluent in business and finance. So while commercial and residential agents can technically practice with the same license, commercial agents are often expected to have a four-year degree in business, finance, or a related field. Have we mentioned it's a lot more lucrative? Average Salary (in the form of commissions): $94,500*
Managing Broker, Designated Broker, or Broker-OwnerReal Estate Brokers are the next licensing level up from Real Estate Agents. They've spent time as agents, gained experience, then taken additional licensing. Brokers can own real estate firms (or "brokerages"), hire agents to work under them, and handle commissions and escrow accounts directly. We talked about what it means to be an Associate Broker above. But for brokers who choose to exercise the rights and responsibilities a broker's license give them, there are a few different roles they can take on. It's possible to be more than one at the same time, or only serve the single role.
- Designated Brokers are legally responsible for the transactions of all real estate agents and associate brokers underneath them. All agents must work under the license and supervision of a broker. The title doesn't indicate ownership of the firm or daily responsibilities, only legal liability.
- Managing Brokers take a hands-on responsibility in the daily operation of the brokerage. They actively manage real estate agents and associate brokers. Managing Brokers might have the legal responsibility for their team, or they might just work for the designated broker who does.
- Broker-Owners are designated brokers that also own the business. All Broker-Owners are Designated Brokers, but not vice-versa (think: squares and rectangles).