As I begin the year with my business plan and budget in place I have been thinking a lot about education.

I used to work in a real estate office where there was this agent — I’ll just call him "Sam." Sam was the master of finding free continuing education courses (CEUs). As real estate licensees in Minnesota we are required to take 15 CEUs every year.

That isn’t much — 15 hours spread out over a year. They can be taken online, through our company, or at the real estate school. All of our local boards have events that include educational components and credits.

During our office meetings the broker used to have Realtor Sam report on where he found free CEUs. Our office was proud of Realtor Sam, and he was the go-to man for free CEU courses. He would sometimes take the same course a few years in a row if he liked it.

There are some agents in my market who don’t mind paying for courses but who will not take a course that doesn’t include CEUs. Our local boards won’t sponsor education that doesn’t include CEUs, and most of the real estate offices won’t either unless it is to fill up some time at the office meeting.

Our state department of commerce won’t approve some types of education that Realtors need to be successful. That isn’t really their function. They are a regulatory body and their focus is consumer protection.

Education is important in any occupation. It doesn’t require a college degree to become a Realtor or any kind of degree at all. States have determined what we need for education and how often. The education they have approved isn’t always very worthwhile.

It is up to each of us to educate ourselves. There are classes for Realtors, but there are also other classes, books and seminars focused on marketing, sales, running small businesses, computers, software, how to use Web 2.0 tools and much more.

I have been away from corporate America for eight years now. My previous employers used to require and provide a lot of training and education. Certainly more than 15 hours a year. I had to stay on top of my game to remain competitive and marketable.

One of the biggest concerns I have had as an agent is that I will lose touch with reality and the business world and that my skills will become stale and unmarketable instead of cutting edge. I worry about becoming obsolete, and I would become obsolete if I let the state and the real estate industry determine my educational needs.

Each year I set my own educational goals and come up with a plan on how to achieve them and a budget. Books have become an essential part of my education plan. When I choose my 15 hours of CEU I choose wisely.

The last time I heard from Realtor Sam was two years ago. He was excited because he was actually getting pretty good at using e-mail. I often wonder what would happen to him if for some reason he needed to get another job. I suspect he could get one but that it would involve wearing a hat and a name badge.

I will continue to develop my own education plan and pay for those classes, conferences and books that I find valuable, even if they are not state-approved. I’ll do it because I am worth the investment.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription