Many people think about REALTORS® and real estate agents interchangeably. The truth of the matter is a REALTOR® differs from a real estate agent, and the requirements for the two are a bit different. A REALTOR® is actually a type of real estate agent who has become both a broker and a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. This is considered the largest professional association of real estate professionals in the world. A real estate agent, on the other hand, is a person who is licensed to help others buy and sell houses and other types of physical property; a person cannot become a REALTOR® without first being a real estate agent.
To become a REALTOR®, you must first start out as a licensed real estate agent. In most locations, you'll need to have at least a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) diploma. You'll also need to be at least 18 years old. Then, you'll have to determine the requirements for licensing in your state. There will be certain coursework to complete and an exam to pass before you can gain a real estate license.
As you prepare to become a REALTOR®, find an approved real estate course in your location. You can locate such courses by contacting the agency that handles real estate agent licensing in your area or even by calling real estate agencies for information. Then, you'll have to take the real estate exam after completing the course. Once you have passed the exam, you can apply for licensing through your state's licensing department.
After becoming licensed, you should work with a REALTOR® for about two years. At the end of this period, you should take a renewal real estate course to prepare you for the broker exam, which is the next step as you work to become a REALTOR®. Pass the broker exam and become a licensed broker, a person with extensive real estate agent experience and additional broker training. Then apply for membership through the association of REALTORS® in your state or locale. If you are accepted, you will be able to use the REALTOR® designation and its trademark symbol next to your name.
While you can help others sell and buy houses as a real estate agent, there are some important reasons to become a REALTOR®. Chief among them is the reputation you gain with membership. This designation lets people know that you are associated with an organization known for its high standards of excellence and ethics in real estate. You may also gain valuable data and learning opportunities unavailable to others in your field. You may even gain connections with others in the industry who can help you along towards meeting your career goals.