You do not need a college degree to become a real estate agent in the United States. Each state has different requirements, but most require the completion of state-specific real estate coursework and passing the licensing exams.
Upon completing these courses and passing licensing exams, you are deemed qualified to work as a real estate agent in your state. Worry not if you have been told that real estate agents need a degree to succeed.
Many of the best agents in real estate have a high school diploma and a strong work ethic. Some real estate agents need a degree to feel comfortable with their knowledge, and that’s okay too. The real estate industry is large and has niches for everyone.
1. Why Real Estate Agents Don’t Need a Degree
Real estate agents do not need degrees because of the education requirements each state’s governing body places upon them. The education is specific to the job agents perform, and is offered by thousands of online schools.
Many colleges and schools are realizing the growth trajectory of the real estate industry, and offering courses to help their students hit the ground running after graduating.
More and more high school students are starting coursework and graduating high school with a career path in front of them. Knowing that they can pay their bills and fund their future is exciting, and a great option for go-getters who don’t feel called to go to university.
Real estate is a fast-paced industry requiring high-energy individuals who learn quickly and pay attention to details. That doesn’t mean you have to have a college degree. Anyone called to the industry who is willing to learn the laws and isn’t afraid of working hard can find great success in this field.
2. Is a Degree Helpful for a Real Estate Agent?
A degree can be helpful for real estate agents, yes. At the end of the day, it comes down to what the degree is and what went into it.
The most important thing that would carry over from getting a college degree to real estate would be perseverance. Graduating college with a degree is challenging, and will require you to push through challenges regularly. Four years of studying hard to succeed will prepare you for your career in real estate better than many alternatives. At the end of the day, there are certainly some more advantageous degrees for real estate agents.
Degrees That Don’t Translate As Well Into Real Estate Careers
For example, a few degrees that may not translate clearly into real estate include:
- Political science
- Fine arts
In no way are these degrees not worth getting. If you have these degrees, it doesn’t mean an amazing career in real estate is off the table.
The reason these degrees are not translating into real estate, as well as some others, is their focus on very niched-down careers with less to do with sales. In all industries, the key to success is solving others’ problems. In healthcare, for example, the problem is sickness or injury. The solution is healing.
In real estate, the most successful agents solve problems for their clients. The solutions usually involve finding a house for them to purchase or a seller to buy their property.
What is the difference between the different fields of study?
Rather than learning how to solve sales problems, these degree paths focus on “solving” the client themselves. Problems that are internal to the clients like a broken bone or strained muscle is much different than a financial or real estate problem. Similar to art, there are no problems, but the artist needs to express their creativity as a contribution to culture.
One of the most important reasons a college degree is valuable is because it is retraining students how to think. Engineers, nurses, accountants, and artists see the same world differently. College is rewiring the student’s brain, making observing the world through their field’s lens more natural.
Degrees That Translate Well Into Real Estate Careers
The following degree paths naturally translate into careers in real estate:
- Communications/Public Relations
- Social Sciences
- Foreign Language
At the end of the day, what you are studying in college will not determine your success in real estate. Certain majors will lend themselves to an easy transition, while others will require more of a fresh start.
The reason that these degree fields are translating into real estate careers more easily is the way that they are teaching students to think.
An accounting or management student naturally sees the world through a financial lens. This is incredibly beneficial when building a real estate business.
The problems being solved in these degree fields are more binary than in the arts or healthcare. That said, degrees in psychology, social sciences, and foreign languages also lead to successful agents.
This is due to the immense understanding that students in these fields are coming into the world after graduating. Much of real estate is problem-solving, but the rest is connecting with other humans in authentic and genuine ways.
3. Why More Real Estate Agents Are Getting Degrees
It may seem obvious, but more and more real estate agents working in the industry today have some sort of college degree.
One reason for this is that so many of today’s practicing real estate agents are from a younger generation. Many younger generations went to college since they were expected to do so. Lots even assumed debt to do so.
Upon graduating, thousands of young college graduates realized that they had no interest in the career path they were studying to pursue. Real estate has a way of drawing in ambitious people from all walks of life, including young folks.
4. What Degree Should You Get?
If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent and are set on going to college first, there are several degrees you should consider pursuing. These won’t be listed in any significant order, as they are all great options for future real estate agents.
Some of the most common degrees among real estate agents are business and management-related degrees. Business school is helpful for future agents because it teaches students how to start thinking about the world through the lens of business.
Any business degree will help you understand how and why businesses fail or prosper. A management degree is an excellent option for starting your own real estate team or working as a solo agent. Knowing how to manage yourself and others is a valuable skill to bring to the table.
Management courses focus on teaching team building, motivating, problem-solving, and presenting plans of action and outcomes to others. These are all very useful skills to have in your toolbox when starting a real estate career.
Finance and accounting degrees are great for agents wanting to focus on helping clients invest in real estate. Having an understanding of the benefits of real estate investing is one major benefit.
Another huge advantage of these agents is their knowledge of underwriting and running numbers on investment properties for clients. While many agents will have a general feeling about a property’s ability to be a good or bad investment, these agents confidently build out spreadsheets and financial models to support their theories.
If you look closely at real estate agents working in multifamily, commercial, and things of that nature, you will find that many have degrees in finance or accounting.
Shifting to working with income-producing properties and businesses is a very natural transition for those coming from the financial sector. A finance or accounting degree is a very powerful resource to have going into a career as a real estate agent.
Curious about how some real estate agents are so great on camera, social media, and meeting new clients? Communications and public relations degrees are common in the industry, especially among top-producing agents. It is not surprising to find out that some of the most outgoing agents in the industry have communications degrees.
A communications or public relations degree is a great choice for a future real estate agent, as you will be spending much of your time communicating with people you do not know. Understanding what it takes to convey your thoughts and value proposition to potential clients is extremely important in real estate.
Communication is one of the strongest indicators of success in any industry, so considering this as your degree of choice is wise.
Architecture and real estate go hand and hand. Many real estate agents, developers, home builders, and contractors have a background in designing properties.
A degree in architecture requires lots of discipline, much like a career in real estate. Whether you pursue a career in architecture after graduating or begin building your real estate empire as an agent, this is a great choice for a degree. Understanding real estate’s physical structure provides insights that others (including most agents) do not have.
This advantage puts you in a position to represent clients on more complex deals. This degree can provide opportunities to work with custom home builders as a drafting professional and the agent selling the homes. This is one of the most difficult degrees to attain, but it has some of the greatest rewards in the long run.
5. What Is Required to Become a Real Estate Agent?
In most states, a minimum number of pre-licensing education hours must be completed. These must be finished before taking the state and national licensing tests. Some states have more education requirements, such as ethics and sales classes, usually between 3 and 6 hours per course.
We have reviewed the state licensing websites for every state in the United States and broken down their minimum pre-licensing hour requirements. Remember, these are the minimums. Clicking on your state takes you to their licensing board’s website if you want your license.
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Pre-licensing real estate education requirements by state
Some states will accept college credit hours in place of pre-licensing courses. You can save time and money by checking with your state commission. Oftentimes, they will accept business class credits towards a real estate license due to the overlap in materials taught.
6. Should You Get a College Degree?
If you are planning a career as a real estate agent, a college degree in a related field is a great choice. If you do not have the time or capital to pursue a college degree, focus on working hard and building your real estate business. Building a successful real estate business without a college degree is entirely possible. Everything needed to be great can be learned on the job.