Redfin is expanding its 3-year-old agent apprenticeship program from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, to seven more large markets around the U.S.

The Seattle-based brokerage pays prospective agents a salary with benefits during the 18-month-long program, which includes classroom learning, help getting their real estate license, hands-on training and one-on-one mentoring as part of a full-time schedule. Redfin agents (with the exception of associate, or field, agents) are paid a salary and earn bonuses based on consumer satisfaction.

“We want to attract agents who want to grow a career, not just have a job,” said Redfin recruiter Renee Fujii.

So far, the firm has graduated a handful of agents of all ages in each of the three years that its pilot program has run, said Redfin spokeswoman Katy Klein.

When next year’s class begins in June 2015, the training course will also be offered to aspiring agents in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Brokerage leaders say recruiting agents is one of the biggest challenges in growing their businesses.

That’s particularly true for Redfin, which currently has over 1,000 agents in 29 markets. It’s looking to expand to at least 50 additional markets, but finding agents who are the right fit will be a challenge, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has told Inman News.

Fujii embarked on a cross-country tour this month that’s taking her to colleges and universities in most of the markets where the brokerage will offer apprenticeships next year. Fujii said she and members of local Redfin teams interview candidates as part of the selection process.

Redfin is not just looking for college graduates and younger recruits. The firm primarily targets people with customer service experience, whether they have college experience or not, Klein said. But colleges are efficient locations to hold the recruiting sessions because of the large pool of available talent.

Many applicants come from Redfin’s career site, Klein said.

A job posting for a slot in Redfin’s upcoming Boston apprenticeship program shows Redfin is looking for tech-savvy, people-pleasing, resourceful, ethical candidates.

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