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Looking for a Career Refresh? Real Estate Is Trending

August 10, 2015 | By

Reality shows like “Million Dollar Listing” make the real estate industry look like an occupational dream come true. With flexible hours, incredible interiors, glitzy open house parties, and, of course, big commissions, the real estate space is alluring, but knowing how to break into the field can seem like a daunting task. Yet if there ever was a time to start or shake up your career and delve into the field, it might be now.

A recent CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists survey listed real estate broker as one of the top five occupations for American job seekers sans college degree looking for employment. Additionally, CareerBuilder found that real estate brokers are among the top four highest-paying jobs available for new high school graduates, with little or no experience necessary.

Nonetheless, the career is not just for Millennials. Because the requirements for broker certification are not overly burdensome or costly, the opportunity opens up for established professionals to pivot their careers and explore the real estate job market.

Krista Clark, an Iowa broker and one of Realtor Magazine’s “30 Under 30” 2014 honorees, says the industry offers great opportunities. “Real estate is an ever-evolving industry, and that has never been more true than it is today,” she says.

“Technology is shaping the industry at an incredible rate, and agents have the endless ability to differentiate themselves from their peers. This is especially important as millennial buyers are flooding the first-time homebuyer marketplace,” Clark says.

Good Wages, With Little or No Training

It’s a common yet erroneous belief that jobs that don’t require a college degree are entry-level and low-paying. According to CareerBuilder, real estate brokers earn a median average of $29.48 an hour. Compared with an average retail store attendant ($10.29 an hour) or an entry-level administration assistant ($13.36 per hour), that’s a substantially higher wage — especially when you factor in the dearth of training and prep costs.

Additionally, the lack of prior experience and minimal training is likely to make the field attractive for people looking to jump into new careers. More people than ever are changing their careers regularly, with a survey by executive development firm Future Workplace predicting that the millennials could have as many as 15 to 20 different jobs in their lifetime.

For that demographic, pursuing a career in real estate is relatively easy, especially compared with other occupational prerequisites — like the compulsory completion of law school to become a lawyer or the necessary research and self-training to become an entry-level software developer. Instead, novice real estate brokers can get started fairly quickly once they obtain a license to operate in their state.

A Fast-Growing Industry

CareerBuilder’s research found that in 2014, there were 51,154 real estate broker jobs — a 6 percent increase since 2010 and an indication that the field is likely to continue growing. The profession is expected to grow 11 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sageworks, a financial information company, reported last year that real estate agents and brokers were the fastest-growing industries of the previous year. There’s even been an emergence of an entirely new real estate position — dubbed the “social agent” — that acts as a real estate middleman, connecting business with agents.

Of course, a growing market means more competition, but it also means greater opportunity lies ahead for potential brokers.

Clark agrees. “As a young agent in the business, I look at the industry and am motivated by the idea that the future of the profession is in our hands,” she says. “We have the ability to make better what the public sees as imperfect, refine what our clients see as taxing, and create what consumers aren’t yet aware they desire.”

Taking Action — Quick and Relatively Painless Prep

Real estate brokers have a limitless income potential, can set their own schedules, and are able to craft a truly flexible career. Sounds pretty great, right? Of course, keep in mind that there are still some necessary boxes to check off.

While the requirements for becoming a real estate agent are minimal — among them, be at least 18 to 19 years old and a legal U.S. citizen — potential real estate brokers are required to complete a prelicense education and pass a real estate license exam. But compared with other fields, these requirements are few and relatively easy, which might help explain why U.S. News & World Report gave the profession an overall score of 5.6 out of 5.

CareerBuilder’s study identifies real estate brokerage as one of the highest-paying occupations that don’t require a high school diploma, and it’s also a job that could be promising to a wide swath of professionals.

“The industry is filled with incredible minds, both young and experienced,” says Clark. “To see them all working together to better our business and learn from one another is one of the most exciting and encouraging aspects of the industry today.”

So while the reality of an average real estate broker might not exactly resemble “Million Dollar Listing,” the real estate field could be a compelling option for those looking to shift career paths quickly, or for anyone angling to escape the routine tasks of a desk job. And with ubiquitous job growth predictions, the field is likely to grow even more attractive.

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