How to Become a REALTOR® In 2024

How to Become a REALTOR® In 2024

How to Become a REALTOR® In 2024

Whether you're a recent graduate looking to enter the workforce or someone wanting to switch careers, entering the real estate industry can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Below, we'll cover everything you need to know to become a REALTOR® in 2024, including the difference between a REALTOR® and an agent, and the benefits of an NAR® membership.

What's the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a REALTOR®?

The terms "real estate agent" and "REALTOR®" are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. If you're interested in entering the real estate profession, it's an important distinction to understand.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is someone who has earned a state-issued real estate license that allows them to work with buyers or sellers to facilitate real estate transactions. To become a real estate agent, you need to take the required pre-license courses and pass your state's licensing exam.

"Real estate agent" can be used to refer to licensees of any level, but it's sometimes used specifically for the lowest level of real estate licensing. These agents, sometimes called "sales agents," can only practice under the supervision of a "broker," which is the next level of license.

It's worth noting that in a few states like Washington, these levels are called "broker" and "managing broker" instead. However, it's not incorrect to refer to any of these professionals as real estate agents.


"REALTOR®" is a federally registered collective membership mark. The term identifies real estate professionals as a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR®).

Essentially, all REALTORS® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.

Steps to Become a REALTOR® in 2024

There are a few steps you'll need to take to become a REALTOR®.

Step 1: Get a Real Estate License

The first step to becoming a REALTOR® is to get a real estate license.

First, you will need to complete a minimum number of courses from a state-approved real estate school. Then, you'll take a real estate exam, which covers the content of your courses. This includes information on local, state, and national laws, real estate contracts, and standards of practice.

Next, you'll need to submit fingerprints for a background check, submit your license application, and pay a licensing fee.

Each state's real estate commission (REC) maintains its own set of educational requirements and fees. You'll need to check with your state's REC to learn the specifics for earning your license.

Step 2: Meet the NAR®'s Membership Qualification Criteria

In order to be eligible to become a REALTOR®, you must:

  • Have a valid and active real estate license,
  • Be actively engaged in the real estate business,
  • Not have a record of official sanctions involving unprofessional conduct,
  • Not have filed for any recent or pending bankruptcy.

In other words, after receiving your license, you will need to "hang your hat" with a brokerage firm in your area, start your practice, and keep your nose clean.

If you're interested in becoming a REALTOR®, your firm's principal – i.e., branch office manager, sole proprietor, firm partner, corporate officer, and/or majority shareholder – must also be a member in good standing. This usually isn't a problem, but it's good to verify that you'll be eligible.

Step 3: Join a Local REALTORS® Association

Next, you need to join one of the NAR®'s local real estate associations. The NAR® has over 1,400 associations across the United States, and you can find the closest online near you with the NAR®'s FIND AN ASSOCIATION tool.

Step 4: Pay a One-Time Application Fee

After the Board of Directors of your local association approves your membership, you must pay a one-time application fee and any prorated membership fees. Application fees vary for each association.

Step 5: Pay Annual Membership Dues

Once you become a REALTOR®, you will need to pay annual dues to remain an active member of your local association. The following information is provided by NAR® on national dues for the 2023 and 2024 calendar years:

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® dues are $150 per member for 2023 and $156 per member 2024. This amount is billed to all active REALTOR® and REALTOR® Associate members through their primary local association and is due and owing to NAR by Jan. 1. Brokers are also assessed NAR dues times the number of non-member salespersons, if any, in their office. National dues are pro-rated monthly for new members based on the join date. This proration only applies in the calendar year the member joins NAR. Thereafter, full year dues are due and owing by January 1.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a REALTOR®?

There are many benefits to becoming a real estate agent – it's a great career.

While becoming a REALTOR® is not required for you to have a successful career in real estate, there are many advantages that will help you stand out in your industry.


Becoming a member of the NAR® provides you with credibility and gravitas that other agents don't possess.

When you become a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, you swear to subscribe to a strict code of ethics, and the organization holds you to account. As a result, REALTORS® have a reputation for trustworthiness in the profession.


NAR® membership provides access to resources that you, as an independent contractor, could never afford by yourself. The NAR® conducts market research that can give you an edge over your competitors. You'll also have access to qualified real estate attorneys through the REALTORS® Legal Hotline.

Additionally, your dues will contribute to the NAR®'s political advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels. They monitor legislation that will affect the real estate industry and lobby in the interest of the profession.

Finally, the NAR® has partnerships across many industries with negotiated rates or discounts on essentials like health insurance, travel, print marketing, electronics, and other business supplies.


As an NAR® member, you'll be able to develop working relationships with agents outside your brokerage. This can expand your sphere of influence and help you grow your business.

In addition to the local association meetings, REALTORS® have access to educational meetings, conventions, special events, and professional development opportunities that allow for broader networking opportunities.

Real Estate Designations and Certifications

As a REALTOR®, you will have the ability to take additional classes that will allow you to receive highly sought-after real estate designations. These designations can help you become an expert in your niche and allow you to grow your business and increase your earnings and income potential.

A list of some of the most popular certifications is as follows.

Get more information and view a list of real estate designations and certifications on the NAR®'s website.

Ready to get your real estate license? Pick your state on our website and enroll with VanEd today!

Written and Published by: VanEd

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