If you’re contemplating a career change, it would be understandable if real estate rose to the top of your list of possibilities. And you wouldn’t be alone. The New York Times reports that “how to become a real estate agent” was the most job-related online search in 2021.
And why not?
After all, when most people think of a career in real estate, they dreamily imagine what it would be like to be their own boss, set their own hours, and enjoy unlimited earning potential.
That sounds like the good life, to be sure.
But, then, the questions start to creep in:
How much money do real estate agents really make?
Is the real estate agent life for me?
How hard is it to get licensed as a real estate agent?
What would it cost me to make this career change?
If any of this hits home for you, read on. We’ve got the answers you’re looking for.
How Much Money Do Real Estate Agents Make?
Not to be crass, but money matters. Because if the money’s not right, nothing else matters. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the financial prospects of a career in real estate. (Cue the “my money don’t jiggle jiggle” lyrics.)
Is the reward worth the effort? Only you can decide that, but here are some numbers you can use to make that evaluation.
As of July 2022, Indeed.com reports the average annual base income for real estate agents as follows:
All real estate agents - $95,333
Agents between one and two years experience - $85,948
Agents with 10+ years experience - $112,769
All that said, this is a career of “unlimited” earning potential, so realize that you can move those numbers up or down, depending on your own abilities and initiative.
Is the Real Estate Agent Life for Me?
If you’re good with the potential payday that a career in real estate can bring, your next concern should be whether or not it would be a good fit for you. To that end, consider these perks and challenges to life as a real estate agent.
You’re the Boss
There is no small amount of satisfaction and freedom that comes with being your own boss. But it requires discipline and the ability to wear multiple hats. Are you a people person with sales ability who also happens to be self-motivated, detail-oriented, and organized? If so, congratulations — and don’t forget to polish that rainbow-colored unicorn horn of yours!
The truth is, most of us are good at some of these things, but find the others a little more difficult. That’s to be expected. At some point, you might be able to offload certain jobs to an assistant, but that’s a luxury usually afforded by someone with a few successful years under their belt. So, at least to begin with, accept the fact that you’ll initially be spending some of your time handling a few tasks you’re less enamored with.
The Time Is Yours
Being the boss means setting your own hours, right? Right?? Not so fast.
While you will definitely enjoy some schedule flexibility as a real estate agent, and it certainly won’t be a 9-to-5 job, the person who really determines your work hours is the client. And that client probably has a day job, meaning the time they have available to work with you will often be evenings and weekends.
Does an unorthodox, somewhat unpredictable schedule appeal to you? Do you see grocery shopping or going to movies while others are working as one of many benefits to the unusual work schedule you’ll have? Or will this lifestyle make you feel disconnected and out of sync with the rest of the world? How you answer these questions will help you decide whether the life of a real estate agent is for you.
The Money (again)
Indeed.com figures aside, income is NOT guaranteed for most real estate agents. You’ll be looking at a commission-based, performance-based revenue system.
Does the unlimited earnings potential excite you more than the unpredictability of it all makes you nervous? If so, you’ll be more likely to wake up and face each new day as an exciting challenge. If not, a fixed salary and 9-to-5 workday in a more predictable career might be easier on your nerves.
Another thing to be aware of is that income in real estate is typically a slow build. That’s why we see a disparity between second-year earnings versus the income of those with more than 10 years of experience. That makes sense, really, as personal networks have to be built from scratch and client referrals come with time in the business.
That is also why many experts will tell you that it could take six months or more before you see your first commission check, and your nest egg should reflect that reality.
Pride & Satisfaction
For many real estate agents, helping people attain the American dream of home ownership is a source of great pride and satisfaction. And the sincere gratitude clients develop for their trusted real estate agent is significant, long-lasting, and one of the real rewards of this business.
If you also find fulfillment in these types of professional relationships, a career in real estate is probably something you would enjoy.
How Hard Is It to Get Licensed as a Real Estate Agent?
The question of how hard it is to get licensed as a real estate agent actually encompasses a number of smaller, more specific concerns. You might, for instance, wonder how long does the real estate licensing process take, how much does it cost, and how hard is the real estate licensing exam?
Aceable recently conducted a survey to better understand the questions and concerns of those considering a career in real estate, and here’s what survey respondents told us:
65% were concerned about whether or not they could pass the real estate licensing exam
60% worried about the costs involved in getting a real estate license
41% expressed concerns about the time it would take to get their license
Concerns vs. Reality
Which of these concerns were real and which were somewhat overblown? That was revealed in respondent hindsight.
When it came to taking the real estate exam:
77% said they had worried more than needed about their ability to take the exam
82% reported that prepping for and passing the exam was easier than they anticipated
85% indicated that they passed their licensing exam on their first attempt
In regard to the cost and time concerns when getting a real estate license:
95% reported that their financial investment in getting licensed was greater than expected
79% stated that the time commitment required to get licensed was more than they thought it would be
Regarding the costs of getting licensed, respondents identified their actual financial outlay as being a combination (on average) of $500 dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for the course and exam fees, plus $7,967 dollars in lost wages stemming from time taken off work to attend classes, study, and take the exam.
The Good News
The good news is that, when all is said and done, over 84% of respondents believe that the financial and time investment they put into getting their real estate license was worth it.
And the even better news? Aceable can help you reduce the time and money concerns you might be feeling.
The Aceable Way
Aceable is an online education provider with some of the highest student passing rates on state licensing exams you'll find. Our state-approved courses are available on your phone, laptop, tablet, or computer anytime that works for you. Start and stop as needed; your progress always syncs and saves.
This means that you can complete your real estate pre-licensing educational requirements while avoiding the nearly $8,000 in lost wages that students of traditional classroom instruction incur.
During the pandemic, online real estate courses rose in popularity, with many students really having no other alternative. According to our survey, however, most found it a much better experience than anticipated, and 80% of respondents have indicated that they’ll continue to take online courses for their ongoing educational requirements in their real estate careers. That tells you all you need to know.
Ready to start your career in real estate? Great — Aceable is ready to help!