Should becoming a real estate agent require a college degree? We still can’t answer that question, but we do have further insight into the educational and employment makeup of today’s Realtors thanks to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 member profile.

  • According to the latest NAR member profile, 93 percent of Realtors have some post-secondary education, with 30 percent of those surveyed having completed a bachelor's degree and 12 percent possessing a graduate degree.

Should becoming a real estate agent require a college degree?

We still can’t answer that question, but we do have further insight into the educational and employment makeup of today’s Realtors thanks to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 member profile.

In addition to the news that the median age and years of experience of Realtors has decreased as new young professionals enter the field, the survey also revealed that 93 percent of Realtors have some post-secondary education, with 30 percent of those surveyed having completed a bachelor’s degree and 12 percent possessing a graduate degree.

Does that suggest that a large number of Realtors decided college wasn’t for them? Perhaps.

Regardless, the conversation about raising the real estate bar through education is thriving.

In “11 proposals for weeding out shoddy real estate agents,” Inman reporter Teke Wiggin explained the current climate of the industry:

“Calls for raising the bar in real estate have reached a fever pitch recently. The ranks of newbie agents have swelled over the last few years, and one report recently cast subpar agents as the No. 1 threat to the industry.”

Long-time Realtor Leigh Brown agrees. In March, Brown said in a post on Inman (see full video below) that she thinks lowering the passing score for licensing would be a huge mistake and that the industry should consider the possibility of requiring a college degree.

Hank Miller agreed that there not only needs to be a college education requirement but also a sliding scale that accepts experience as credit.

Miller wrote: “A profession does not have an insanely high percent of members who do not earn a living in the field, nor one without any type of apprenticeship, nor one with such a large percentage of members who never complete a transaction, nor one with so many who never make it to their second anniversary, nor one that just harbors members who are incapable of successfully operating in the current environment. If this is a profession, why don’t we act like it and demand professionalism?”

On the other end of the spectrum, Adam Conrad wrote a post last year urging young entrepreneurs to skip the university. Among the reasons he listed were student debt and the cost of education.

“Skip college. That’s right! If you know someone who is thinking about starting or running a business after college, they should just skip the university and start a real estate career,” Conrad wrote.

“This is not advice I would have given 20 years ago. Today, my opinion on this has been influenced by many of the changes and opportunities that have occurred over the last couple of decades.” He also cited Seth Godin’s posts on college and education as having influenced his thoughts on the matter.

Clearly, the industry is split on this issue and still debating what needs to happen next. Thus far, no changes have been made to require a college degree, but most Realtors do have some college under their belts.

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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