More than 14,000 Americans each month Google the phrase "how to become a real estate agent," which could be because of the profession’s earning potential. The median annual real estate sales agent salary is $40,333, according to Salary.com. (To be fair, other sources report that in their first year on the job, real estate agents’ median income is only $15,300.) However, it can be a tough field to truly succeed in, which is why you’ll want to be sure to get proper training to prepare for the licensing exam. Total average costs for real estate school vary because they are a combination of various expenses for training, exam fees, license activation, joining a multiple listing service (MLS) and more. Here are the things that affect the average cost of going to real estate school, including licensing, exams and memberships.
Before you can take your state’s real estate license exam, you must take a prelicensing course, which may cost anywhere from $200 to $600, depending on your state and the institution or training company offering the course(s). Different states also have different requirements for the number of hours of prelicensing training they require. Most states require 30 to 90 hours of classroom instruction before you can take the real estate license exam. Some states, like California and Colorado, may require more than 90 hours of instruction. California requires 135 hours and Colorado requires 168.
When you’re ready to take the license exam, you will have to pay a fee, which could range from $100 to $300. Exams are typically divided into two portions: one on federal real estate laws and general real estate principles, the second on state-specific laws. If you do not pass the exam on the first attempt, you can usually retake it, but you’ll have to pay the exam fee again.
Once you pass your state’s real estate license exam, you’ll need to activate your license through your state real estate commission’s website. Activation fees vary but typically cost $200-$400.
According to the National Association of Realtors, real estate agents spend $100-$200 on post-licensing education after they pass the certification exam and activate their license. There is also some required continuing education, which could add another $50-$300 to your expenses per year.
Multiple Listing Service (MLS) membership
Membership in your local MLS is key, because you will use the service to list properties for sale (if you are the selling agent) and check inventory for clients who are looking to buy. The MLS also enables you to easily pull a property’s tax information, analyze market trends and view listings before they are available to the general public. MLS membership fees vary significantly, from $300 to $1,200.
Becoming a Realtor
To become a Realtor, you must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Current annual membership dues are $120.
Joining a brokerage
In order to become a real estate agent and legally practice real estate, you must work under a supervising broker. Most brokerages do not charge a fee for agents to join them, but it’s the final step in the process, and you may incur expenses to market your listings and otherwise establish yourself in the industry.