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Real Estate As a Career


Is this the Right Career for you?

There are many opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing a career in the real estate industry.  Real estate offers an extremely wide variety of specialties such as trading services (sales), rental property management, strata management, appraisal, mortgage financing, commercial trading services and leasing, farm trading services, investment real estate, land development, counselling and research.

However, your decision to undertake a career in real estate, as with the choice of any vocation, merits very careful consideration. It is a field in which you may easily misjudge your future.  Each year many individuals expend time, effort and money to enter the real estate vocation only to discover that they cannot complete the required licensing course and examination or, having done so, that they are unsuited to the work.

Being of Good Reputation

The Real Estate Services Act requires that applicants for a licence shall be of “good reputation”.  Following application for a licence to the Real Estate Council, the applicant is investigated. (The Real Estate Council is the licensing and regulatory agency established by the provincial government to administer the Real Estate Services Act.)  General business and personal reputation are reviewed along with criminal convictions and charges, which must be disclosed, including any where conditional or absolute discharges were granted.  Current policy is that these are not necessarily a bar to registration, depending upon circumstances and recent record.

In the case of summary conviction offences unrelated to employment, an application for licensing will not be considered until the completion of sentence, parole, probation or payment of fine.  Where summary conviction offences are related to real estate employment, application for licensing will not be considered until at least two years after completion of sentence, parole, probation or payment of fine.

Longer waiting periods are imposed for white collar crimes and for indictable offences whether related or not related to employment. If you require further information with respect to these waiting periods, please contact the Real Estate Council or review the Council’s Real Estate Licensing Guidelines.

Age Requirement

To be eligible for real estate licensing in the province of British Columbia, section 10(b)(i) of the Real Estate Services Act requires that an applicant for licensing is at least 19 years of age.  Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in real estate who are not yet 19 should keep in mind that the applicable licensing course and examination may be completed prior to the age of 19 and that individuals have up to one year from the date of passing a licensing exam to apply for licensing.  As a result, individuals who do not yet meet the age requirement may wish to plan courses and examinations accordingly.

Alternatively, there are opportunities for individuals who do not yet meet the age requirement and wish a career in real estate to pursue post-secondary education by completing a number of real estate related programs including a Bachelor of Commerce in Urban Land Economics through the University of British Columbia or a Diploma in Marketing Management (Professional Real Estate Option) through the British Columbia Institute of Technology.


An individual who has some concern about satisfying the requirements of “being of good reputation” should, prior to registering for a Licensing Course, complete an Application for Pre-screening Form. That application should be returned to the Real Estate Council office, together with the appropriate pre-screening fee (currently $100) and full disclosure of any convictions, current charges, or other issues of concern relating to questions 1-7 of the application. 

You are required to obtain an original criminal record check from your local police agency and submit it along with your pre-screening application to the Council. Click here for detailed information.

An advance decision may thus be obtained as to the applicant’s suitability for licensing, subject, of course, to passing the course and examination. Please note that this process is not for everyone wishing to become licensed, but only for those with concern regarding their suitability for licensing.


The type of compensation structure you receive will depend on which real estate specialty you select.  Typically, a specialty such as rental property management is salary based while a specialty such as trading services is commission based.  You should talk to various people in the industry and to a number of brokerages to see what type of compensation structure they use.

If your compensation structure is commission based, it means that that you will have little or no guarantee of income level.    While predicting income is difficult, your earnings could be affected by your sales ability, people skills and hard work, or by the market conditions, property area, property type and the commission structure.  You should also take into account the cost as well as the time needed to establish a practice and to build up an income to meet your personal requirements.  Therefore, you should have sufficient capital available to support yourself if your personal goals are not met as soon as you would like.

Budget and Expenses

Making a commitment to a career in real estate also includes a number of financial considerations.  The following is a sample of various initial and ongoing budget items that need to be considered:

  • Licensing course fees
  • Real Estate Council licensing and assessment fees
  • Language Proficiency Index examination fee
  • Applied Practice Course fee (if applicable)
  • Criminal record check fee
  • Real estate board fees
  • Brokerage desk fees
  • Advertising costs
  • Smart phone, computer, printer, website, internet access, car lease and business car insurance, business clothing, etc.

A more detailed list of budget items is outlined on the trading, rental and strata management step-by-step licensing pages. Links to the step-by-step licensing pages can be found under the “Licensing” menu of this website or in the How Do I Become Licensed? section below.

How Do I Become Licensed?

The real estate industry in British Columbia achieves high standards in licensing by requiring individuals to fulfill comprehensive education and experience requirements.  There are a number of licensing levels that can be achieved during a career in the real estate industry.  For an illustration of the various licensing levels, see the chart below:

Education Guide


To become licensed, individuals must successfully complete the Real Estate Council’s education requirements.  If you are considering a career in real estate trading services (sales), rental property management services, or strata management services, you will require a licence to provide those services.  Once the choice between trading services, rental property management or strata management services is made, the appropriate licensing course must be taken through the University of British Columbia (UBC) Real Estate Division.  Individuals should expect to take up to one year to complete the required course prior to becoming licensed.  (Note:  Individuals with prior real estate education or experience may be eligible for an exemption from the coursework.  Please consult the Council’s Real Estate Education Guidelines.) 

Choosing a Real Estate Brokerage

In order to obtain a real estate licence in BC, you must be licensed by the Real Estate Council of BC and be engaged by a real estate brokerage.  When choosing a real estate brokerage, you may want to consider brokerages in the geographical area in which you intend to conduct your business.  Talk to the managing broker at several real estate brokerages to find one with a fee structure and corporate environment that best suits you.  All brokerages have their own ways of operating, so you should ask each of them what makes them different from the others.  A phone call or email to brokerages might be a good first step in approaching them.  When you apply to the Real Estate Council for licensing, you must provide the name of the brokerage with whom you intend to work and the brokerage will retain your licence.  You may change brokerages at any time once you are licensed, but the Council will need to be informed in order that your licence can be amended.  Remember, you cannot conduct any business unless you are engaged by a brokerage and any business that you do conduct must be done in the name of and on behalf of the brokerage with which you are engaged.

Additional Licensing Courses

Once licensed, an individual’s licence level and/or category may be upgraded with further education.  A number of choices exist for licence upgrades.  Most individuals selling real estate or managing property in British Columbia are representatives licensed to provide trading services or rental or strata property management services, however, they may choose to become an associate broker or managing broker.  Should a licensee wish to upgrade to become an associate broker or managing broker, they must successfully complete the Broker’s Licensing Course at the UBC Real Estate Division.  To be eligible for enrolment in the course, they must have been licensed as a representative for six months.  Before the licence will be upgraded, individuals must have been licensed as a representative for a minimum of two years during the preceding five (5) years prior to changing their status.

If you wish to become licensed as an associate broker or managing broker in British Columbia, please read the Broker Licensing Guidelines.

Licensees who have a licence to provide trading services, rental property management services or strata management services can become licensed to provide one or both of the other licensed activities by taking the appropriate trading, rental or strata management Supplemental Course at the UBC Real Estate Division.  The Supplemental Course can be taken at anytime, while licensed as a representative, associate or managing broker.

Inter-Provincial/Jurisdictional Licensing

If you are or have been licensed outside of British Columbia and wish to become licensed in British Columbia, please read the Inter-Provincial/Jurisdictional Step by Step Licensing guidelines.


In certain cases, course exemptions are available based on previous related experience or education.  Details are set out in the Council’s Real Estate Education Guidelines.

Further Education Courses

A number of opportunities are available for further increasing one’s knowledge. For example, the UBC Real Estate Division offers a Diploma Program in Urban Land Economics, completion of which satisfies the academic requirement for admission to the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia whose members use the designation RI(BC). As well, in conjunction with the Thompson Rivers University Open Learning (TRU), the UBC Real Estate Division offers a post-diploma degree completion program that leads to a Bachelor of Business in Real Estate (BBRE).  For more information, on these courses, visit Real Estate Division website.

Also, the BC Real Estate Association, the real estate boards and many real estate companies conduct extensive education programs designed to update and improve upon the professional standards of their members.

Relicensing Education Program

The Relicensing Education Program (REP) requires licensees to complete applicable continuing education courses every licensing cycle as a condition of continued licensing.  For further information, please see the REP page.

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