Realtor License vs. Real Estate Agent License: Which do I need? (2021 UPDATED)


If you think real estate is a good career move for you and decide to become an agent, you’ll want to consider getting a realtor’s license.

Agents make good money on commissions, enjoy a flexible schedule and benefit from the satisfaction of knowing they found their clients a great home.

Most people think real estate agents and realtors are one in the same. There are a lot of similarities, but actually quite a few differences in real estate agents vs. realtors.  In short – to become a real estate agent, you need to earn a real estate license in your state. To become a realtor, you must have already received your real estate license – AND you need to join the National Association of Realtors.

Confused yet? Here is some information that may help you out.

Realtors vs. Real Estate Agents: What’s the Difference?

Real Estate Agents: Real estate agents help people buy and sell their homes. In order to become and agent, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Meet Pre-Licensing Requirements: Pre-licensing requirements change from state to state. Generally, you will need to be at least 18 or 19 years old and a U.S. citizen.
  • Take a Pre-Licensing Course: A pre-licensing course will educate you on the real estate industry, so you are prepared to help people in the buying and selling process. It will also help you fulfil the course hours required for you to take your test.
  • Pass the Real Estate Exam: Next you will need to apply for and take your real estate exam. The exam will test you on various aspects of the real estate industry. You will be required to pay a fee to take the test.
  • Find an Agency: It is not necessary for real estate agents to join an agency, but it will be helpful when it comes to finding clients and getting your career off on the right foot.

house pictureRealtors: Realtors are basically real estate agents that are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The association has a great reputation so agents that join will have a leg up on their non-member competitors. It’s important to note that technically, there is no such thing as a “realtor license”.

Here are some benefits of becoming a NAR member.

Networking: When you join NAR, you join a network of over a million members. You can use your connections to build relationships with other members who may be able to provide you with inside information on listings.

Reputation: Agents that join NAR are held to a Code of Ethics that guarantees they are reputable. Buyers and sellers that realize this will be more likely to hire a realtor as opposed to a non-member agent.

Support: NAR works to protect the rights of their members. If you have a tax issue, or any other type of legal issue, you can contact their board of legal experts who are ready to help you in any way they can.

Other Perks: As an NAR member, you will be eligible for discounts on property and insurance. If you reach out to their credit board, they may help you get a loan for your business. You may even be able to get a special realtor credit card.

joining NARHow Do I Join NAR?

In order to join NAR, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a practicing real estate agent
  • You cannot have any pending or recent bankruptcies on your credit record
  • You must not have a record of unprofessional conduct
  • If you work for an agency, the principle of your agency must be a member of the NAR.

If you meet all these qualifications, you can go to the NAR web site to apply for membership. If you are approved, you will be required to pay an annual fee of $120 as well as an application fee and prorated membership dues.

Which License Do I Need?

When it comes down to it, all you really need to buy and sell homes is a basic real estate license. However, if you want to expand your business and enjoy the perks that come with being an NAR member, you will want to “get a realtor license” by joining NAR as well. So tell us, will you be adding a realtor license to your real estate resume?