Do You Have to Go to College to Be a Real Estate Agent?
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Do Real Estate Agents Need to Have a College Degree?
Real estate licensing authorities in each state set the requirements for those who wish to operate as an agent. Most states have some educational requirements to ensure those working in the industry can provide clients with accurate information and support. This includes learning the state's laws and regulations surrounding the buying and selling of real property within that state. This education also typically includes some aspects of business management, sales skills, and budgeting. It helps an agent with the basics of running a business.
It's always important to check with the state's licensing authority to gain additional information about these requirements. No states require a formal college degree and instead require a certificate of completion from real estate-focused education.
Some colleges and universities offer a formal bachelor's or associate's degree in real estate topics. Real estate can often serve as a secondary degree or field of study if a student is studying another area. For example, if the school offers the appropriate courses, a student may complete a major in business administration with a focus on real estate. Even if a degree isn't required, there are valuable benefits to obtaining a formal degree in real estate.
Advantages of Having a Real Estate Degree
Why invest the time in a real estate degree if it is not required to become a licensed agent in a state? Obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree can be beneficial for multiple reasons:
- It may help an agent to perform their job better.
- It may help agents meet clients' needs more thoroughly, even without a lot of experience in the field.
- Some achieve success at a faster pace meaning more homes sold and more clients satisfied.
- Some brokerages favor working with agents who have a degree.
- A degree may help with managing the more difficult aspects of building a successful career, such as tackling accounting requirements, managing marketing, and balancing budgets.
In some situations, a degree may help agents to be more profitable sooner. While there is profitability and income working as an agent right away and without a degree, those who wish to build a larger presence in the industry and within their brokerage may find the education and skills obtained from a degree can enhance this.
For those unsure if a degree is valuable, consider what is taught in a related field of interest. Look at the curriculum to see the value these programs typically offer students and how well those areas apply to the real estate industry.
Degrees That Can Help a Real Estate Career?
For those considering a career in real estate, taking the necessary education as a component of an associate's or bachelor's degree may be beneficial. The student still learns the ins and outs of real estate itself. This most often includes all aspects required by the state's licensing board.
Degrees may include additional training and education into core concepts important and valuable to a successful real estate career. These degrees may help a student embrace the needs of their clients more fully or help them better understand trends in the industry. Some of the types of degree paths that may benefit people in the real estate industry include the following.
Accounting is a critical skill for anyone working in a business. Many real estate agents work within a brokerage. That brokerage may have separate accounting professionals to manage the books, but day-to-day tasks may still require accounting basics. Yet, understanding accounting principles and methods is valuable for several reasons.
Accounting courses teach management of ledgers, processing transactions, managing taxation, and budgeting. These are all core elements of a successful business model. Accounting degrees also help individuals better understand numbers – what profit margins are beneficial, how to increase profit and loss, and how to manage expenses. Whether helping clients to make wise decisions about closing costs and contracts or working to balance budgets for the brokerage worked for, agents benefit from this type of hands-on knowledge.
A real estate career requires proper business management within the brokerage and by each real estate agent. A business administration degree provides those skills in perhaps the most robust form. This degree typically includes numerous aspects of managing a business, including communications, time management, managing people, sales strategies, and budgeting. There's also a strong component of business ethics, which often directly applies to a real estate career.
Business administration degrees also teach students how to properly manage their resources, negotiate details, and manage their business goals. These degrees may also have components of other courses, including marketing and law, while also incorporating aspects of leadership. This can help an agent contribute to building a strong and healthy business within the brokerage they work for.
A degree in computer science enhances the skills of a real estate agent in several ways. Computer science teaches aspects of software use and development. It also teaches skills such as how to run various programs that relate to the business environment. It enables agents to better understand the tech aspects of home and business management through networks. A degree in this path may help with project management skills, enhancing client relationships, and communicating safely.
Today's real estate world is very much focused on online sales and digital strategies. Having a degree in digital marketing, then, provides agents with a new and enhanced skillset. Those in digital marketing learn how to market using social media, websites, and email. They develop skills to attract people to websites and develop relationships online, where most buyers are located.
This enhances the work that a real estate agent does as well. Since today's home buyer is most likely searching online first, agents with digital marketing skills have the ability to use those skills to build a strong client base.
Most real estate agents work as entrepreneurs, even within a brokerage, because brokerages often treat their agents as independent contractors. In a brokerage, it becomes valuable to understand the concepts of business building. That includes business communications, marketing, negotiations, and closing the deal. Entrepreneurship degrees often help people to see new ways of looking at the world around them while also providing solid business management skills.
With a degree in this field, agents may be able to earn more by reducing costs. They may learn how to run a business by building a strong reputation. They also learn how to manage other people.
Real estate agents help people make investments. These investments range from high-end purchases of rental property to buying a first home. Understanding market conditions, recognizing economic climates, and factoring in aspects of interest proves valuable in every situation. An agent with a background in finance may have a stronger ability to advise clients on the financial aspects of purchasing a home or other real estate.
Agents may also learn topics such as statistics, investment strategies, and management of finances for their business. These topics may help them grow their business over time by making better decisions about expanding or hiring employees. Finance may also provide some real estate agents with the ability to meet the needs of wealthier investors who want to move into real estate as a component of their portfolio.
Graphic design can provide an excellent skill set for a person working in the real estate industry. This may give a real estate agent a bit of an edge. Graphic designers learn to use software to create advertisements and marketing campaigns. They also learn how to communicate core messages through pictures, language, and colors.
Graphic design can also help create beautiful flyers for homes or enable agents to grab the attention of a would-be buyer with an interesting layout. While graphic designers don't learn specific sales skills, a lot of the hard skills they learn directly apply to the real estate industry because of how visual this type of marketing needs to be.
A large part of what a student learns in a human resource degree relates to working with, communicating with, and supporting others. That may include topics about diversity, inclusion, overcoming communication barriers, and building culturally sound workplaces.
These skills translate into a real estate degree as well. Working with people to buy or sell their homes means understanding their needs, culture, and lifestyle. Human resources are also important because it teaches valuable ethics and legal aspects of working with others, including assistants and other agents. That may be useful over time as an agent builds a larger business or needs to hire an assistant for support. Understanding changing laws in the industry may also prove valuable over time.
Great photos sell homes. It is common for real estate agents to utilize a third-party service for professional photos. Doing this independently with professional-level skills can help agents reduce those costs and improve the services they provide to their customers.
Photography courses teach lighting, angles, and communicating messages through photos. They provide hand-skills, such as using a camera to capture the details of the space. They also teach skills such as how to use photos to sell a property.
It may seem like a strange topic, but psychology is perhaps one of the most interesting fields for a potential real estate agent to study. Psychology teaches about other people — how to talk to them, understand their needs and wants, and support that individual. Understanding the psychology of humans can directly relate to the success of a real estate agent.
This includes a better understanding of how people live, what is important to them, and how to read between the lines when questions are asked. It can help agents develop better skills for working with different personalities and even help agents to reduce conflict. More so, psychology can help agents learn how to market more effectively to reach their desired audience.
So, does an agent have to go to college to succeed in their career? It's an option, but there's no requirement to obtain a degree. Doing so may prove to be helpful depending on what is studied and how that applies to the real estate industry. Agents may find a college degree helpful, especially in building their client base, utilizing available strategies for marketing, and enabling a better understanding of a potential home buyer's needs. What's most important is investing time into developing skills to serve clients effectively.