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Real Estate Broker How to become, career path, income potential

What is a real estate broker?

If you’re looking to expand your career horizons as a real estate agent, then becoming a real estate broker may be your best next step. Real estate brokers continue their education and earn their real estate broker licenses to work independently legally. They can decide if they want to start their own brokerage to hire and oversee other real estate agents. 

Real estate brokers do many of the same things as agents. As a broker, you would work with buyers to find the home they want, negotiate with sellers to get a fair price, prepare offers, and resolve any issues that may arise before the closing date. Real estate brokers will also help clients sell their properties or rent their homes to the right buyer.

A typical day could include visiting properties, handling coordination with inspectors and contractors, writing contracts for your own deals and your agents’ deals, and leading sales meetings to check in with your team. Working on marketing strategies and creating listings on MLS and other online sites are also tasks you’ll be responsible for doing or overseeing.

This career opportunity involves many different tasks and responsibilities, including managing other real estate agents. Taking on other real estate agents can be financially rewarding since you earn your own commissions and can take a portion of the commissions your agents make.

Qualifications and eligibility

As a real estate broker, you oversee other agents and transactions to ensure compliance with state and national real estate laws and policies. This will require someone who works well with others, has superior leadership qualities, and has extremely high ethics and morals. A high level of integrity will allow you to lead a team and help improve sales effectiveness. 

In addition, a high school education, a valid real estate sales license, and around 2 years of experience under an experienced brokerage firm are required to become a real estate broker. There is an additional exam to apply for the broker license. 

A good real estate broker should also have strong communication skills, be a hardworking self-starter, have a sales-oriented mindset, and have good follow-up skills. Leading others requires a high level of integrity and knowledge of real estate laws. 

Work environment

Real estate brokers have their own offices, but they spend a good amount of time on their feet. When real estate brokers are not in their office, they travel throughout their area, meeting with clients and showing them potential properties. It’s common for anyone in real estate to spend a lot of time commuting and in their car making phone calls and scheduling showings.

Typical work hours

A real estate broker’s hours range greatly, but the standard workweek is about 40 hours. Overtime is not unusual since many buyers can’t meet until the evenings after work or even on the weekends. Most brokers will not have a set schedule and will work to meet the needs of clients and agents. 


The income for real estate brokers depends largely on location, experience, and how successful their brokerage is. Those with larger brokerages and more agents will make more money as long as their agents sell. The locations with the highest average earnings include:

  • Nebraska – $148,820
  • California – $117,820
  • Hawaii – $116,290
  • District of Columbia – $112,650
  • Montana – $104,030

How to become a real estate broker

1. Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent

The only education required before signing up for your real estate course is a high school diploma or the equivalent. It’s a great industry to enter if you want to start working on building a career young, but age isn’t relevant to begin as long as you are older than 18. 

2. Get a real estate license and work experience

To obtain a real estate license in most states, you need to be at least 18 years of age and complete a specific course that will teach you the basics of listing properties and helping people purchase a property. The course covers state laws, regulations, and general best practices for this industry. 

Once you’ve completed your initial course, you can take your exam, get fingerprinted, and apply for your license. Taking the next steps to become a broker will require a number of years of experience (each state sets its own time limit.) 

3. Work towards additional certifications

  • Udemy offers a collection of Real Estate Fundamentals that will set you up for success. Learn to become a mobile notary or take classes on the basics of real estate investing. Each offering will give you more knowledge and experience to further your career.
  • Coursera has over 400 different courses in the real estate industry. From construction management to essential strategies and skills for successful negotiation, there are many options to help anyone in the real estate industry develop new skills.
  • The Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) is the only negotiation certificate recognized by the National Association of Realtors. This certificate proves that you have the skills needed to become a master negotiator.
  • Become an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS). This 10-hour course allows you to be up to date with the luxury home market trends. By taking this course, you’ll also have one year of membership to the Luxury Home Council.
  • Take a course to become a Certified Property Manager (CPM). The certificate maximizes the potential to increase the value of the home. CPMs will have to go through eight modules, covering everything from property management to maximizing the value of the real estate, whether you’re planning to rent or sell. 

4. Take a state course for real estate brokers and pass the exam

Each state has its own set of requirements to become a real estate broker. You’ll need to have a certain number of years of experience, plus there is a course that covers the local laws and regulations. Once the course is complete, you can take an exam to become licensed.

5. Start your career as a real estate broker

Once you have all the appropriate licenses and education, you can start processing transactions and work with clients. You can then decide when you are ready to take on agents to work for you and how big you want to grow your business.

Types of real estate brokers

Real estate brokers all receive the same license and education, but with experience, there is more than a broker can do. There are three types of real estate brokers—associate, managing, and principal. 

Associate brokers have their licenses, but they work under another broker. Someone in this role typically seeks additional experience and doesn’t manage their own team yet. 

Managing brokers run daily operations and oversee a group of agents. This role does most of the training, coaching, and onboarding of agents and helps them work through any issues that arise. These brokers also run their listing appointments and sales as well.

Principal brokers are responsible for ensuring that all state laws are being followed with each transaction. Each brokerage has someone designated in this position to keep things compliant.

Tips for becoming a real estate broker

When looking to become a real estate broker, you already know you need to complete your training and get your license, but there are a few other steps you can take to be more successful. Try out some of these tips to boost your skillset:

  • Always focus on growing your network. As the saying goes, your network is your net worth. That is especially true in real estate. The more people you know, the most clients you will have.
  • Practice your negotiation tactics and strategies. Take classes to learn new methods and focus on improving that skill.
  • Take management courses and build your leadership skills so you can properly train and lead agents to success.
  • Understand and stay on top of changing laws and regulations in the real estate market. 
  • Think outside the box and brainstorm new marketing techniques and creative ways to reach out to teams.
  • Become an expert at follow-up. Track which methods work better and try out new things.
  • Walk properties as often as possible. See what is available at each price point and see what other agents and brokerages are doing differently. Studying the competition is always important.

Position trends

Real estate has been trending more and more toward online transactions with virtual online tours and detailed pictures. Some housing transactions are even done completely online without the buyer viewing the property first. Real estate brokers must be able to adapt quickly to new online marketing and transactional trends that continue to evolve.

There are constantly more and more financing options and incentives, new lenders, and new apps that improve the home buying process that brokers will need to be aware of. Self-guided tours are another big trend right now, where potential homebuyers can tour homes on their own by getting a code to the front door. This eliminates the need for an agent to be present during tours and can help speed up the home searching and buying processes.

As long as real estate brokers are willing to change along with the trends and technology, transactions will always need to happen in the real estate market.

Career path

Real estate agents spend a few years gaining experience, and some decide to take additional courses to become real estate brokers. Once you have your broker’s license, there are a few paths to take. 

Some people become associate brokers at a firm and work underneath a larger broker to learn more and get some experience managing people. You can also go out on your own, be an independent broker and agent, and work independently. 

Real estate brokers can hire agents to work underneath them if you’re ready to grow and expand. That requires leadership skills and sales knowledge that you can pass on to your agents. From there, you can scale up as much as you’re comfortable with. Get licensed in multiple states and grow your business as large as you want. This career path is completely up to you and how hard you are willing to work.

1. What is your favorite listing that you’ve sold?

People in real estate love seeing properties and helping find the magic in every spot. Talk about your favorite listing and what you loved about it. Was it a fun challenge? Did you get to sell a luxury property that you would love to live in someday? Did you help a family make their dreams come true? Show your passion for real estate and how much you love working in this field.

2. What unique marketing methods are you a big fan of?

Marketing is important to bring in new people. These days, mailers and email blasts are fine, but they come from all over. What new ideas do you have that are different? Good marketing is all about innovation and finding ways to connect with people. Share one or two ideas that you want to utilize or that you’ve successfully done in the past that are unique.

3. How do you follow up with previous clients and contacts that you’ve made?

There are few industries where your network matters as much as real estate. Your business depends on your ability to make people happy and tell others about you. Talk about the ways that you stay in touch with your previous clients. Do you send annual holiday cards? Do you check in and see how people are doing and if they have any real estate needs? The more creative your methods are, the more likely you are to stand out to people.

4. What are important resources that buyers should utilize?

Real estate is a large investment, and it’s important that both buyers and sellers feel comfortable during the process. As a broker, you may have some tricks and tools to help your clients understand the entire process and be well-prepared. Talk about how you kick things off with new prospects and make them customers for life.

5. How do you find a balance between work and home life?

The schedule of a broker can be tough because many clients and agents work nights and weekends. Potential employers and partners want to ensure they have a healthy and happy team. Do you set any boundaries? Talk about the way you take time for yourself while meeting the needs of your agents and customers.

6. Have you successfully grown your social media presence and online following?

Social media is one of the most beneficial tools for real estate professionals. It’s an easy way to attract new potential clients and stay in touch with existing clients. Talk about your social media strategy and where you’ve had success. Are you reaching a large number of people? Share that information.

7. Describe your hardest real estate transaction. What did you learn from it?

Real estate has some strange and challenging situations. Come prepared to talk about a moment when you felt challenged or surprised. It’s perfectly OK to have those scenarios during your professional career but make sure that you can share what you’ve learned and how you can change your strategies going forward to avoid facing that same situation in the future.

8. Where do you get your news on the real estate market?

The real estate market is constantly changing, and so many things impact buyers’ and sellers’ feelings. Ensure you’re following experts and share some of your favorites when you answer this question. Do you rely on the newspaper or certain social media accounts? 

Real estate broker FAQs