What’s in a name?

Realtor, Agent, Sales Associate, Broker, Managing Broker...

What's the difference?

There are a lot of different labels and names thrown around for people who work in the real estate industry. It can be really, really confusing.

Part of the confusion is because every state uses their own terminology. There is no national standard. Conceptually, they are all the same. 

Basically, it breaks down like this:

Real estate license Type #1: Business Owners

Real estate license Type #2: Employees

I know what you’re thinking: Why would I get the license to work for someone else?

The short answer is this “Type #1” license requires prior experience working in the real estate industry. California and Texas call this the Brokers license, and requires 2 years and 4 years of experience, respectively. Other states like Washington and Illinois refer to this license as Managing Broker.

For everyone else, this means you have to get “Type #2” and work for them. California calls this the Salesperson’s license, Texas calls it the Agent’s license, and Florida calls it the Sales Associate license. To make things even more confusing, other states such as Washington and Illinois call it the Brokers license.

This is the license that everybody starts out with. Most people are happy staying on this level for their entire career.

These are the only types of licenses in real estate. A license is a legal requirement issued by the state government that gives you permission to conduct business in that particular field. They are form of regulation to ensure public safety and prevent fraudulent activities. You cannot do any business without it.

After you get your license, you can step up your game by joining trade associations. These are great places to network with other like-minded professionals, but most importantly, you can obtain certifications and designations that will help you stand out. Certifications and designations are not legal requirements but they will open up more opportunities.

The most well-known real estate designation is the realtor. Realtors are people who are members of the National Association of Realtors and/or their state’s realtors association.