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Real Estate Broker Career Guide

What is a real estate broker?

For those who want to expand their career in real estate, becoming a real estate broker can be a great next step. Real estate brokers continue on in their education from realtors and earn their real estate broker licenses to work independently. They can decide if they want to start their own brokerage to hire and oversee other real estate agents. 

Duties and responsibilities

Real estate brokers do many of the same things as general agents. As a broker, you 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.

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. 

How to become a real estate broker

In order to become a real estate broker, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:

Step 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. 

Step 2: Get a real estate license and work experience

To obtain a real estate license in most states, you must 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.) 

Step 3: Work toward 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 be able to predict real estate pricing to making your graphics for listings, there are tons of 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 you have the skills to become a master negotiator.
  • Become a Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS). This 10-hour course lets you be updated 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. 

Step 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.

Step 5: Start your career as a real estate broker

Once you have all the appropriate licenses and education, you can start processing transactions and working 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.

How much do real estate brokers make?

There are many variables that go into determining how much a real estate broker makes, company and market size, as well as experience will greatly affect earnings.

Highest paying states

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

Browse real estate broker salary data by market

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 broker

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 broker

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 broker

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.

Top skills for real estate brokers

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 two 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. 

Real estate broker 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 possible. This career path is completely up to you and how hard you are willing to work.

Real estate has been trending more and more toward online transactions with virtual online tours and detailed pictures. Some housing transactions are done 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 independently 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.

Employment projections for real estate brokers

According to the BLS, the employment of real estate brokers is projected to grow by about 2% over the next decade, about the same as the average job growth numbers for the next few years. 

Real estate broker career tips

Soft skills and traits

Practice your negotiation tactics and strategies. Take classes to learn new methods and focus on improving that skill. It’s important to think outside the box and brainstorm new marketing techniques and creative ways to reach teams and new clients. Become an expert at follow-up. Track which methods work better and try out new things.

Commonly required skills and qualifications

Take management courses and build your leadership skills to train and lead agents to success properly. Understand and stay on top of changing laws and regulations in the real estate market. Walk properties as often as possible. See what is available at each price point and what other agents and brokerages are doing differently. Studying the competition is always important.

Develop a professional network

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. Here are a few great networks to explore: 

  • National Association of Realtors
  • Real Estate Business Institute (REBI)
  • Council of Residential Specials (CRS)
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Neighborhood Facebook Groups

Where the real estate broker jobs are

Top companies

  • eXp Realty
  • Keller Williams
  • RE/MAX
  • Coldwell Banker
  • Century 21

Top states

  • New York
  • Arizona
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

Top job sites

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Careerbuilder
  • Monster


What is the difference between a real estate broker and an agent?

Real estate brokers have more training and education than agents. They can supervise and oversee agents at a brokerage. Agents are responsible for their transactions, but brokers must help their agents with their work.

How can I find a job as a real estate broker?

After becoming a broker, you can work independently and grow your network. If you don’t have a network of previous clients to bring along, you can work under another broker as an associate at first.

What are the long-term job prospects for a real estate broker?

Once a person receives their broker license, they can scale up the business size they manage as much as they want. Add agents to your brokerage and grow the size of your clientele. Gaining experience in commercial real estate will open additional doors as well.

Do all real estate brokers have agents that work for them?

Real estate brokers can work independently, or they can bring on real estate agents underneath them. Until agents receive the additional training and license, they have to work under a broker, but once they become a broker, they are free.

How long does it take to become a real estate broker?

To become a real estate broker, each state has specific requirements on how much experience you need as a real estate agent first. Once you’ve completed the required years, there is a course listed from the state that is usually around 70-90 hours long. Once the exam is passed, you’ll be a real estate broker.

Can real estate brokers help both buyers and sellers?

Real estate professionals can represent a buyer and seller for the same property, and it’s called a transaction brokerage. There are some legal responsibilities that the agents cannot carry out if representing both. Most brokers operate with buying and selling real estate, but most often do not complete that on the same property.

Do I need a real estate broker license for different states?

Each state has requirements for a real estate license, but agents and brokers can be licensed in multiple states. If you often travel or live near a state line, consider taking the course to expand your business.

Are residential and commercial real estate brokers different?

The residential real estate license is the same standard state license in many locations as the commercial. Still, successful commercial real estate agents and brokers have more training and experience in the commercial side. Contracts and agreements are more complicated, and it takes longer to make deals.

What skills do real estate brokers need?

To become a real estate broker, you should be organized, have great leadership skills, and operate with great integrity. Brokers should be sales-oriented and know how to work their network and close deals. In addition, there are licenses required in any state.

Can real estate brokers make a lot of money?

Real estate brokers have a lot of great opportunities to make good money. Many factors play into their take-home paychecks, including sales, the number of agents working for the broker, and what types of contracts they are working on. The average salary is about $68,000 per year in the United States.

Do real estate brokers get paid if a house doesn’t sell?

In most situations, a real estate agent and broker are only paid once a transaction is complete. It doesn’t matter if they are representing the buyer or the seller. However, there may be some contracts that aren’t true because each agreement is different.

Where do real estate brokers make the most money?

Areas with high real estate prices are great for brokers, especially as they bring real estate agents to their brokerage firm. A percentage of each sale goes to the broker, plus any commissions they make on properties they sell. The highest-paying states include California and Hawaii, but there are also states like Nebraska and Montana with fewer brokers. More agents work underneath them, and their income is higher.