Real estate has emerged as one of the most profitable industries worldwide. In 2017, more than 614,000 houses were sold in the United States alone. The same year, transaction volumes reached $467 billion. If you're planning to work as a licensed real estate agent, now is the time to get started.

Those who work in this niche buy, rent or sell properties for their clients. They also prepare contracts and discuss conditions of sale. Their average annual income is approximately $45,990. Top performers can earn as much as $109,490 per year. As soon as you obtain a real estate license, you can focus on growing your business and generating revenue.

How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent

All states require real estate agents to carry a license. The requirements are state-specific and typically include the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have legal U.S. residency.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Complete 40-to-180 hours of real estate education (varies by state).
  • Pass your state real estate license examination.
  • File your application and pay the fees.
  • Work with a real estate broker for two or three years.
  • Join the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
  • Renew your license.

Those who wish to become real estate agents may be required to complete post-licensing and continuing education requirements. But you cannot start selling houses right away. During your first two or three years as an agent, it's necessary to work with a real estate broker who will sponsor you.

Obtaining your real estate license can be expensive, with a variety of fees from pre-licensing courses, exams, license application, background check and joining a real estate association.

Real estate classes are available online and in-person, but they're all costly. Pre-licensing courses cost between $200 and $1,000. Exam fees range from $15 to $60. When you apply for a license, expect to pay up to $250 plus $40 to $80 for a background check. For instance, the cost of real-estate pre-licensing in Utah ranges from $400 to $600. You will also need $152 for the license application, $66 for the license exam and $700 to $1,300 to join a real estate association.

What if you don't have the financial resources to complete your education? In this case, research the grants that are available for new real estate agents. Various private and public organizations will fund your real estate education.

Apply for a Grant or Scholarship

To find funding, start by applying for Federal Student Aid. This option is offered by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the largest provider of student financial aid in the U.S. The application is free and can be submitted online. Once approved, you will receive assistance from the college you attend, the state where you live or the U.S. federal government. Grants from nonprofit or private organizations are available, too.

It's necessary to be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen to qualify for this type of grant. Applicants must be enrolled in an eligible certificate program or degree and maintain satisfactory academic progress. You simply fill out an application online, select the schools of interest and submit your request to the FAFSA. Grants for new real estate agents are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure you apply as soon as possible at the beginning of the year.

Another option is to contact schools and organizations that provide real estate courses to see if they offer grants and how to qualify for one. Some examples include Hondros College, Brightwood Real Estate Education, Cornell Graduate School and Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation. Each has its own eligibility criteria.

Also, many real estate agencies provide scholarships and grants. In this case, you will need to work for them after obtaining your license. Before applying, find out whether they require additional training or courses. Ask if they have a mentorship program and about the company culture. Remember to ask about their commission structure as well. Contact several real estate agencies and brokerage firms before making your decision.