For a few years, it didn't seem like a good idea to become a real estate agent. The booming U.S. housing market that peaked between the years 2004 and 2007 made it easy for homes to be sold directly by their owners. However, this changed when the housing bubble burst. At that point, many people who wanted to sell their homes sought help from licensed real estate agents.
To become a real estate agent in the United States, you'll have to research your state's requirements. In general, states require that you take a course in real estate fundamentals. Real estate courses are taught at technical schools, universities or accredited colleges [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]. After you've completed real estate school, you'll have to take and pass an exam that covers state real estate laws, federal real estate laws, and general standards and practices. A licensed real estate agent is required to pay annual dues and the license needs to be renewed periodically [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]. Depending on which state you live in, you may also have to take certain courses in order to renew your license.
In the United States, there are a few million licensed real estate agents. Approximately half of these licensed real estate agents are Realtors [source: National Association of Realtors]. Furthermore, not all realtors are real estate agents. A licensed real estate agent is authorized to help facilitate the buying and selling of residential or commercial property. A Realtor, on the other hand, is someone who is specifically a National Association of Realtors member. In fact, "Realtor" is a word that's been trademarked by this association. Real estate brokers, real estate counselors, property managers and home appraisers can all become Realtors by becoming NAR members.