Do Real Estate Agents Need A Degree?


My wife and I were waiting in line at the grocery store the other day when we overheard the people behind discussing real estate agents in general and one they knew in particular. It wasn’t flattering. A lot of the talk revolved around the skills, education, and intelligence,  or lack thereof, these women felt real estate professionals had. It got me thinking. Do real estate agents need a degree, or any other specialist knowledge or training? It didn’t take long on the internet to find out.

Do Real Estate Agents Need A Degree? No. Real estate agents do not need a degree to begin work in the United States. They must meet minimum education and training requirements, which vary from state to state and pass a licensing exam. However. A degree can help a real estate agent become even more successful in their career.

As you don’t need a degree to become a real estate agent, what do you need to do? Is it worth going to the trouble of studying for a degree you don’t have to have? What are the advantages of having a degree if you are a real estate agent? What I found out will surprise you.

Do Real Estate Agents Need A Degree?

You do not need a degree in order to obtain a real estate license. The license requirements vary slightly from state to state, but, across the country, you must:

  1. Be a minimum of 18 or 19 years old, depending on the state.
  2. Have legal US residency.
  3. Complete your states pre-licensing education requirements.
  4. Pass your state licensing exam.

You’ll notice there is no requirement for a high school diploma listed. This is because, while the majority of states say you have to have graduated high school, not all do. The number of hours for point three depends on the state in which you are trying to obtain a license.

For example.

  • Michigan requires 40 hours
  • Alamaba  requires 60 hours
  • Georgia states you must have a minimum of 75 hours
  • Meanwhile, Illinois specifies 90 hours
  • California needs 145 hours and
  • Colorado wants you to complete a whopping 168 hours of pre-licensing training

Because of this disparity in training hours, if you obtain your license in one state you often have to become re-licensed if you wish to work in another. Some few states accept the licenses of others, but only if they agree the training you received is comparable to the program they provide.

For example, New York has a reciprocal agreement with; Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Other states only have reciprocal agreements for brokers licenses.

Once you have your license, you must work under the supervision of a real estate broker. To become a broker yourself you have to take additional educational courses, exams and have a minimum level of practical experience.

Does Having A Degree Benefit A Real Estate Agent?

Having a degree may not be important to some real estate agents, especially those who are happy to treat their real estate agents role as either a part-time gig or a temporary job.

However.

Many states will allow you to take a number of shortcuts on the journey to becoming a real estate broker if you have a degree. This can shave a number of years off of your experience requirements allowing you to set up your own brokerage and work alone, or employ others.

While not all degrees have a focus that is directly applicable to real estate, an associates degree in a subject such as business can be useful when you are navigating complex property transactions or negotiating terms with buyers, sellers, and banks.

Not Only That.

If you are serious about building a full-time career in real estate, a degree, while not essential, can certainly be beneficial. One of those benefits is that a degree can make a candidate a much more attractive hire for some real estate brokerage firms.

This is because when you have spent time and money dedicating yourself to the study of real estate, you show your prospective employers that you are serious about your career and not just someone who wants to be a real estate agent because they think it is an easy job.

Not only that but in today’s real estate transaction s are becoming ever more complicated. As a result, the larger brokerage firms are beginning to require that all new hires hold a degree. This enables the companies to ensure that they are taking on new people who have the capacity to handle the kinds of complex deals that the firm handles.  

What About Degrees In Real Estate?

It comes as a surprise to many people that there are, in fact, degrees available today that are focussed purely on real estate. At one time a straight business degree would have been all that was available. Actually, at one time a business degree would have been entirely adequate to equip you for a career in real estate.

Today it is a different matter. Professions of all kinds have become complex webs of local, regional, national, and international traditions, customs, best practices, and legislation.

There are degrees in real estate available across the USA, both in brick and mortar universities and online. While some people are suspicious of the quality of online degrees or qualifications in subjects not traditionally seen as “academic,” today many legitimate, highly regarded educational establishment offer real estate degrees.

Johns Hopkins University offers a flexible MBA in “Real Estate and Infrastructure” on campus while Georgetown University offers a “Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate:

What Kind Of Courses Do You Study In A Real Estate Degree?

The details of each degree course vary according to the degree level and the institution delivering the program.

For example.

The University of Florida has a Minor in Real Estate as part of its business degree program. This minor includes a course in “Real estate investment decision making” and a “Real estate analysis” course, but all of the other required course are in the wider business field.

Meanwhile.

The Masters in Real Estate program at Georgetown University consists of:

  • Real Estate Fundamentals
  • The Foundations of Real Estate Law
  • Foundations in Real Estate Finance
  • The Foundations of Real Estate Markets
  • Foundations of Real Estate Accounting

Participants also choose four electives courses from subjects such as “Global Real Estate Transactions,” “Real Estate Portfolio Management,” and “Structuring Real Estate Investments: Equity, Debt, and Ongoing Ownership.”

So you see, the depth and complexity of the degrees cover an extensive range of interests and abilities.

What Sort Of Person Takes A Degree In Real Estate?

The majority of real estate professionals are driven, self-starters who thrive on the fast pace and diversity of experience that a career in real estate provides. They need to get on well with a wide variety of people and have the kind of social skills that preclude them from ever being wallflowers.

As a result, the kind of person who takes a real estate degree is usually someone who knows that they want to make a career in the world of property. They are generally not content to be a real estate agent in someone else’s brokerage firm unless that company is one of the larger, more dynamic organizations with a breadth of work and plenty of opportunities.

They also take the quality of their work very seriously. Few people are going to dedicate years of their lives and thousands of dollars studying for a degree when they do not care about being able to do the best job possible.

Can You Study And Work?

In the past, plenty of real estate agents found themselves in a catch-22 situation. They were working full-time and wanted to progress within their profession but did not have the luxury of taking a number of years out of the workforce to study full-time.

These days there are plenty of flexible options that allow those who are dedicated to improvement, the flexibility to work, study, and meet their family commitments, without having to give one of those things up.

How Can That Work?

Some online courses still require you to log in and be available at specific times, which doesn’t work for everyone. However, there are also reputable online courses available that allow you to log in and work at your own pace when it is convenient for you.

Other educational institutions provide part-time courses. Many of these are run outside of regular hours specifically so that working professionals can attend.

This isn’t for everyone of course. However, if you are committed to becoming the best real estate professional you possibly can, and building a better career and life for yourself and your family, the short-term sacrifices and difficulties of working and studying are far outweighed by the long-term benefits.

 

Geoff

Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.

Recent Content