Real Estate Careers – All Certified Real Estate Profession Options (2022 Updated!)

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller,February 15, 2022

Group,Of,Brokers,Working,Together,At,The,Modern,Office,Space.If you are considering a career in real estate, you should know how your state certifies and regulates all real estate professionals. After all, you’ll have to work closely with these other groups of professionals in order to succeed.

It’s often something that is glossed over in real estate school, but your ability to work with other professionals like real estate brokers, home inspectors, and appraisers can truly determine the amount of deals you close.

Each state has specific rules for real estate agents, and has outlined a step-by-step process to getting your license and starting out in this rewarding, yet difficult industry.

Knowing more about the rules can help you plan how to pursue your real estate license.

Who is certified to practice real estate? 

Your state’s Real Estate Commission is the overall governing body that sets qualifications for all certified real estate professionals. They are the one stop shop when it comes to licensing across the state.

Real,Estate,Brokerage,Contracts,For,Sale,And,Rent,With,InsuranceThey have the right to suspend or revoke a license holder who has not upheld the state’s real estate laws.

Each state is different, but in Texas for example, the commission is composed of nine members appointed by the Governor for six-year terms. Six members must be licensed real estate brokers. Three members must be members of the general public who are not regulated by the Commission in order to keep things fair.

There are four main kinds of real estate certifications or licenses that most real estate commissions oversee:

  1. Salesperson license
  2. Broker license
  3. Home inspector certification
  4. Appraiser certification 

Now the first two are most commonly talked about. Sales agents and brokers have similar job descriptions, but they are different. This can be especially confusing because certain states use a different language. For example, in Colorado a “broker license” is at the same level as a “salesperson license” in Texas. Because of this, some people use the word interchangeably, even though it’s often not accurate.

In Texas, TREC requires real estate professionals to first qualify as agents before they can move on to become a broker.

In most states, a salesperson/sales agent must work under a licensed broker. This means that in order to get your license, you must choose a brokerage to hang it on.

So when you think of it like that, the broker is the authority figure—he or she is the lead professional in the office.

However, in other states (like Colorado) a broker’s license is the bottom tier, and the authority figure has a “managing broker’s license” under their belt.

Requirements for Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Confident,Lady,Business,Trainer,Coach,Leader,Give,Flip,Chart,PresentationThe commissioners, or board member’s job in your state is to make sure all agents are capable, qualified, and can lawfully work in the state. To do so, they have some basic criteria you must meet. Luckily, most of the requirements for becoming a real estate agent are pretty straightforward:

  1. You must be at least 18 years or older
  2. You must be a U.S. citizen 
  3. Must be a resident of that state
  4. Must meet the board’s ethical standards for “honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity”

The first three are pretty cut and dry but the last one, not so much. The good news is that most of you don’t need to worry about it. The only time you’d need to be concerned is if you have any criminal offenses, unpaid fines or tickets, disciplinary actions taken against a professional or occupational license, or have performed unlicensed real estate activity.

Take a Pre-Licensing Education Class

You’re required to take a “pre-licensing” education class where you’ll study the principles of real estate, contracts, and finance. Not a fan of school? Well, these classes just might change how you feel about school. You have so many options! Some of them are even entirely online which has huge advantages! These virtual options mean that you can do the work at your own pace and work the courses in around your schedule (some of them are even available on the go). 

This education requirement can be between 40 hours (Michigan real estate license), to 75 hours (Georgia real estate license), to 180 hours (Texas real estate license), and anything in between.

But what’s included in those hours? Take a look at the curriculum and see for yourself:

  • Principles of Real Estate 
  • Law of Agency
  • Law of Contracts
  • Promulgated Contract Forms
  • Real Estate Finance

“But what the heck’s a ‘Promulgated Contract’? That sounds scary and hard!” 

Don’t be scared off by the vocabulary. This is what the classes are designed for. They’ll defang any confusing topics by breaking them down. Still scared? Trust me, you can do this. The pass rates after taking these classes are sky-high, typically over a 70% pass rate and the support these classes offer is amazing. 

Tips for Licensed Real Estate Agents

Let's,Get,Started,Thoughtful,Male,Person,Looking,To,The,DigitalBreaking into the real estate industry isn’t the easiest thing. Many agents fail in the first year because they aren’t sure how to go about getting leads or clients. That’s why it’s important to do your homework.

Start thinking early on about schools in your area, activities and events that are popular, property taxes, local ordinances or HOAs, as well as the sizes and styles of homes that are common in your zip code. You’ll want to make yourself familiar with what buildings are typically made of and what home systems are like near you. These are questions that your buyers and sellers will ask you about regularly, so you’ll want to have some information to offer them.

As a new agent you may be wondering ‘how should I start growing my network?’. The good news is that there are multiple ways to start meeting more certified real estate professionals! 

Here are a few strategies to try first: 

  • Join online real estate industry communities on social media or other forums
  • Sign up for newsletters from your local Board of Realtors or the NAR to learn about industry events
  • Attend real estate industry  events, lecture series, panels, etc. to meet other professionals 
  • Get active in your local community so you can connect with potential clients

Whichever activities you decide to do first, make sure you balance the amount of time you spend growing your professional network and getting to know your future clientele. For more networking inspiration, AgentAdvice.com has pulled together a list of networking options for Realtors and agents.

 

Finding a Broker

Confident,Insurance,Agent,Broker,Man,Holding,Document,And,Present,PointingAs explained earlier, agents need sponsors for certifications and licensing needs.

There are things you will want to consider as a new agent when choosing a broker. They are as follows:

Commission Split: Sponsoring agents don’t sponsor you out of the kindness of their hearts. They typically make a commission off of your earnings although some will take a flat fee up front. You’ll want to go with an agent that you find affordable.

Support: As mentioned earlier, most agencies will not require your sponsor to mentor you. However, as a new agent, you will want to find one that can give you advice when you need it.

The Company: Remember, your agent is a representative of the company they are recruiting you into. Therefore, you want to make sure you are happy with the company itself. Here are some things to look for in a brokerage firm:

  • Mentorship Opportunities: The company will act as a mentor and may provide you with educational and training materials as well as guidance from other agents that may or may not be your sponsor. Find out what type of support they offer before signing up.
  • Reputation: If you work for a reputable company, you will get more clients.
  • Fees: Your brokerage may charge you fees for office space, marketing materials and more. Make sure you’re not paying more than you can afford.

 

Becoming a Real Estate Broker

Financial,Concept.,Make,Money,On,The,Internet.,Businesswoman,Works,AtReal estate brokers can buy and sell real estate directly just like agents/salespersons, but they also supervise agents.

In order to become a broker in most states, you must:

  1. Be a US citizen or have a legal right to work
  2. Be 18 years or older
  3. Be a resident of that state or have been licensed as a sales agent or broker in the last two years

In addition to these qualifications, prospective brokers must also take additional hours of coursework. In Texas, 270 hours of education are required, the broker curriculum breakdown is as follows:

  • 60 hours in Principles of Real Estate
  • 30 hours in Law of Agency
  • 30 hours in Law of Contracts
  • 30 hours in Promulgated Contract Forms
  • 30 hours in Real Estate Finance
  • 30 hours in Real Estate Brokerage

After completing the 270 hours, you have two years to apply for your broker’s license.

As far as experience goes, candidates must have four years of work experience as a sales agent or broker.

You must also submit your fingerprints and agree to a background check before your broker license can be approved.

Next, the step you’ve all been waiting for: passing the licensing exam.

  • Rest assured that you don’t have to pass this on the first try.
  • Remember that you have a full year from when you get your exam eligibility to pass this exam. 

In addition, broker’s (just like agents), must agree to take continuing education in order to keep their license active in the state you are working in.

Continuing education topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Property management
  • Real estate investments
  • Residential inspections
  • Real estate appraisal
  • Real estate marketing

 

Key Technology for Real Estate Brokers

Key technology for real estate brokers include:Close-up,Of,Businessman's,Hand,Checking,House,On,Laptop

  • eSignature software
  • document creation and collaboration
  • document management and storage system
  • local MLS website
  • IDX website or listing portal

 

Real Estate Markets

Real estate brokers will want to stay up to date with what’s happening in markets around the state. This is important if you have clients who are moving to a new city and are looking for recommendations, or if certain zip codes near you are experiencing a housing shortage or influx.

After all, the more in the know you are, the better equipped you are to handle multiple deals at once.

For a data-driven approach, successful real estate brokers should stay advised on key metrics.

Metrics like these are the best ones to stay on top of:

  • Median list price of homes in your area
  • Median sell price of homes in your area
  • % change year over year
  • Average umber of days on the market
  • Average commission per sale
  • Sale price per square foot

Other metrics will evaluate your use of social media and other new technologies. For example, you’ll be able to see how much interest there is in an open house based on the number of people who show up or chime in on live videos.

 

Certified Home Inspectors

Indoor,Damp,&,Air,Quality,(iaq),Testing.,A,Close,UpAlong with real estate agents and brokers, your state’s real estate commission also oversees the licensing process of home inspectors.

While the job descriptions are different, there is some overlap between the two. It’s no surprise that home inspectors play an important role in the real estate process.

Inspectors are the ones who come in and analyze a property from top to bottom to see what issues may exist. Everything that turns up in this report will impact the overall value of the home or property. For example, we’ve seen homes that appear to be up to date and squeaky clean, but there may be electrical or plumbing issues that a prospective buyer can’t see during an initial open house.

For this reason, one of the biggest parts of the negotiation process centers around the overall condition of property. That means that the home inspector plays a vital role in closing the real estate deal.

With that in mind, the same board that oversees real estate agents and brokers provides licensing and requirements for professional home inspectors as well.

Levels of home inspectors: 

  1. Apprentice Inspector – This is an entry-level inspector. Often times, apprentices have to train under a top-level inspector.
  2. Inspector with an intermediate-level license – This is the most common type of home inspector. After earning this license, you can apply to become a “professional real estate inspector”.
  3. Professional real estate inspector – This means that they have an approved license, and have achieved the highest level of inspector status available under Texas Law.

Requirements for a Home Inspector License

  1. You must be at least 18 years or olderClient,And,Contractor,Discussing,Plan,To,Renovation,House.
  2. You must be a U.S. citizen 
  3. Must be a resident of the state you want to get licensed in
  4. Must meet the board’s ethical standards for “honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity”
  5. Must submit fingerprints and pass a background check
  6. Must show proof of financial responsibility

In order to qualify for the intermediate license, prospective professional home inspectors must take 90 hours of coursework. A lot of the education is centered around:

  • HVAC systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Foundation issues

Once the classroom hours are complete,  licensing rules require you to work under direct supervision of someone at a higher level.

The same rules apply if you are looking to become a certified “Professional real estate home inspector”, except you must complete 130 education hours as opposed to the 90 required for the intermediate level. The same general infrastructure curriculum is taught in addition to:

  • Ethics
  • Standards of practice
  • Report writing

Real,Estate,Home,Inspection,Report,Of,Resale,Residential,Property,ConditionFollowing these steps is very important because the real estate commission takes the licensing of home inspectors very seriously due to the fact that they play such an integral role in the real estate process. Brokers, agents, and inspectors rely on each other to complete a sale. Home buyers and sellers are also very curious about the issues that may come up during the home inspection process, so it’s vital that inspectors know how to answer their questions directly.

Another sign of a good home inspector is that they can help avoid the parties involved from facing legal trouble after a sale is complete. That’s because they should be able to relay any information about the law as it relates to liability for malfunctioning systems or faulty infrastructure.

Overlap of Real Estate Agents and Certified Home Inspectors

While agents and brokers often handle most communication with buyers, they often have to understand the home inspection report. In Texas, this is also referred to as a seller disclosure form. The form contains information required to be disclosed by Section 5.008 of the Texas Property Code regarding material facts and the physical condition of the property.

This form is usually pretty thorough. It details any issues found on the property including:

  • Well-conditioned HVAC systems
  • Attic and basement ventilation
  • Functional windows and doors
  • Potential for water damage
  • Any foundation or structural issues
  • Appliances in working order
  • Any other issues that the home inspector comes across.

This isn’t limited to any one thing, termites or other creepy crawlies can also be documented in this form if inspectors feel it could pose a safety issue to new homeowners.

All successful real estate professionals, whether they be the agents or inspectors themselves, should be able to discuss the findings on the form in detail with prospective buyers.

 

Real Estate Appraiser Licensing in Texas

Close-up,Of,A,Person's,Hand,Filling,Document,In,Front,OfThere’s another kind of real estate professional that is also licensed and certified through the state real estate commission. This fourth group is called appraisers.

For example, in Texas, appraisers are certified through the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board, which is actually a specific arm of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). And just like real estate agents, brokers, and home inspectors, appraisers also need to go through a list of steps before they are qualified to reach the top level of certification. The levels of appraisers are as follows:

Appraisal Trainee – to qualify in Texas you must:

  • be 18 or older
  • be a US citizen
  • reside in Texas
  • complete 75 hours of qualifying appraisal education
  • find a supervisor who is a certified appraiser to work under

Certified General Appraiser or a Certified Residential Appraiser

  • Must take and additional 225 hours of appraisal education
  • Hours of experience also matter to TREC, who will evaluate if you are ready to become certified or licensed

Just like home inspectors, appraisers also play a vital role in the real estate process.

Their job is to evaluate the real value of the property. So while inspectors are looking around and evaluating the home systems, and jotting down any issues that they come across, the appraiser is busy building a value of what the property’s true worth is.

While these jobs all seem somewhat similar, all four certified real estate professionals serve a different purpose. However, they are all needed to help each other make money and complete a sale. Because all four work so closely together, it makes sense that they are all regulated and overseen by the same governing body. In this case, that’s TREC who issues all certifications and licenses.

 

How do all Certified Real Estate Professionals fit together? 

Businessman,Signs,Contract,Behind,Home,Architectural,Model,Discussion,With,AIf you want to have a true understanding of how the real estate process works from start to finish, then you need to understand the part that each of these four real estate professionals play. To recap, the four types of  certified real estate professionals are:

  • Real estate agents
  • Real estate brokers
  • Certified home inspectors
  • Certified appraisers 

On one hand, in order to keep a job and food on the table, they each need to work with buyers and sellers to close a deal.

However, they also need the big picture of how the entire process works to understand how all four need to work together to sell the same message.

A lot of this is briefly covered in the early education requirements for agents, brokers, home inspectors, and appraisers, but over time many professionals tend to gravitate towards those they work closely with.

It’s also important to have this general understanding of the process before you get too far into your career. For instance, as an agent you need to be prepared for prospective buyers to pull out of a deal based on the home inspectors findings, etc.

It’s also important to advise your clients about the current market, so that they know the risks in submitting an offer before knowing the true appraisal value of the property.

A decent real estate school will touch on many topics to prepare you for not only the customer service side of the industry, but also detail the steps to the conclusion of the sale. Those include understanding why each person’s role is important, and how each type of professional (agents, broker, inspector, appraiser) works with buyers and sellers. Your real estate education should also cover the following:

  • How each type of professional works with lenders
  • Dos and don’ts for each professional role
  • How to advance in a career according to state regulations

If you have this type of specific training, you have the competitive edge that you need to jump-start your career in real estate. So, are you ready?

 

Decide if Your Real Estate School is Right for You

If you are interested in becoming a certified real estate professional, it’s also important to research how your state’s real estate commission works.

Before deciding on a school, ask some pointed questions:

  1. Does this course cover the different professional roles in real estate?
  2. Will this course prepare me for property valuation work?
  3. Will I learn the difference between presenting a property on paper vs. on-site?

If you want to be the best certified real estate professional possible, remember that communication is key. Not just with buyers and sellers, but other professionals around you. The best agents we know are the ones who understand the process from start to finish and make friends with the other professionals around them. As a team, all four groups help to make dreams come true.

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 4/7/2022

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