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For the past few years, becoming a real estate agent has been a dream of mine. Not only is it a lucrative career (real estate agents in 2016 made an average of $44k per year and the top 10% made as high as over $110k per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but it’s also a career that is fulfilling.

There are specific steps to becoming a real estate agent. In the U.S., you must be at least 18 or 19 years of age, depending on your state. You must also legally reside in the U.S.

Aside from these requirements, it’s also important to know that you must have a certain work ethic to become a successful real estate agent. Each day, you create your everyday schedule. This means you must have the discipline to handle your prospects, current clients, paperwork, office management, and many other factors of day-to-day business on your own without a manager to keep you on track. If you fit these general requirements, then it’s time to become licensed.

Licenses differ from state to state, so it’s important you understand the requirements of the states you plan to work in. Kaplan has listed all of the state’s requirements on one easy to navigate page – see it here.

Once you have a full understanding of your state’s requirements, you must complete prelicensing courses. These courses may be completed in a classroom setting, online, or a hybrid of both. Often, they are offered at local real estate schools, universities, and technical colleges. When looking at your options for schooling, be sure to choose one that offers quality instructors and upholds a strong reputation.

Before you complete your classes, you’ll want to be thinking ahead to the exam. Many states will require background checks and fingerprints before being allowed to take the exam. Requirements like these can take weeks to complete, so it’s best to have this squared away by the time your classes come to an end.

The real estate exam is not an easy exam to pass. Many people do not pass on their first try. If your instructors haven’t explained this yet, be sure to get in additional study time outside of the classroom. There are many exam prep courses that you can enroll in to aid in your studies. These will provide you with practice exams and identify your strengths and weaknesses.

After you pass your exam, the last step you must complete before you’re able to be fully licensed is to find yourself a real estate broker to sponsor you. Many people begin this search early in their journey to becoming a real estate agent, which isn’t a bad idea. Once you fill out your paperwork with your broker and receive your official license from the state in the mail, you may begin to practice everything you’ve learned!