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Starting a Career in Real Estate


Are you interested in a career in the real estate industry? The good news is that real estate offers a variety of career options. You can choose to become licensed in

But before you leap into a career in real estate, take the time to think carefully, research the opportunities in your area, and find out all you can about this career choice. Make sure you carefully consider the important responsibilities that come with being licensed to provide real estate services in BC.

Every year many people spend time, effort and money to become licenced real estate professionals, only to discover that the reality of working in real estate is not what they expected. By doing some research, asking questions, and learning more about careers in real estate, you’ll be prepared for your future, and you can be confident that you’re making the right choice.

Start by asking yourself the following questions. The answers below should help you to determine whether real estate is the right career choice for you.


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Show/Hide AnswerWhat are the requirements to become licensed?

In order to meet the Council’s licensing requirements, applicants must:

  • be of good reputation,
  • meet the minimum age requirement,
  • meet the educational and experience requirements for the level and category of licence for which they are applying,
  • must not have been refused a licence, been convicted of an offence, or disciplined by a professional body for a reason that reveals the applicant to be unfit as a real estate licensee.

The Council requires that all applicants:

At the time of application, licensing applicants must satisfy one of the following employment criteria to be eligible to work in Canada:

  • Canadian citizenship
  • Permanent Resident status
  • hold a valid work permit/visa
  • Landed Immigrant status

Work permits/visas must not have any restrictions that would preclude an applicant from engaging in real estate activity/employment.

For further information, please review the Council’s Real Estate Licensing Guidelines.

Show/Hide AnswerWill I meet the “good reputation” requirement to become licensed?

The Real Estate Services Act requires applicants for a licence to be of “good reputation.”  To determine whether applicants are of good reputation, the Council requires you to:

  • answer questions on the licensing application about your general business and personal reputation, including any bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings 
  • provide a criminal record check with your application, and
  • disclose information about any criminal convictions and charges, including any conditional or absolute discharges. 

Depending upon the circumstances and your recent record, having a criminal record is not necessarily a bar to licensing, but the Council will need to review the information carefully before deciding whether you are eligible for licensing.

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. For further information about these waiting periods, please or review the Real Estate Licensing Guidelines.

Show/Hide AnswerShould I complete a pre-screening application?

If you are concerned that you may not meet the Council’s good reputation requirement, before you register for a licensing course you can request that the Council review your circumstances. Submit the following to the Council office:

Your Application for Pre-Screening will be reviewed, and one of the following outcomes will occur:

  1. The Council will notify you that you have been found suitable for licensing. Prescreening applicants who are found to be suitable for licensing must go on to successfully complete the licensing course, examination and pre-licensing components of the Applied Practice Course before they may apply for licensing. When you have completed these educational requirements, you may submit an Application for Representative, Associate or Managing Broker Licence form along with the appropriate licensing fee to the Council.
  2. If the Council has concerns about your suitability for licensing, a Qualification Hearing may be required. Following a hearing, the Hearing Committee may direct that you be licensed and may impose conditions on your licence, including restricting the licence to a particular brokerage and requiring an activity report from the managing broker. You must successfully complete the educational requirements before becoming licensed. 
  3. You may be found to be unsuitable for licensing. In the event that you are found to be unsuitable for licensing, your pre-screening fee of $100 is fully refunded.

If you are found to be suitable for licensing and you decide not to proceed with an application for licensing, you are eligible for a partial refund of $75.

Show/Hide AnswerWhat kind of income can I expect in a real estate career?

The type of compensation structure you receive will depend on which real estate specialty you select.  For instance, while rental property managers typically earn a salary, individuals who specialize in trading services (sales) usually earn commissions. A good way to learn more about the income you can expect to make is to talk with people in your region who work in the real estate industry. 

If your compensation is commission-based, you will have little or no guarantee of a stable income level. Your earnings could be very high one month, then much lower the following month or months, until the next sale. Your sales ability, people skills and hard work will likely affect the amount you earn, along with the market conditions, the area in which you are working, the type of properties you specialize in, and the commission structures.

As you think about whether real estate is the right career for you, keep in mind that there are costs involved in establishing a real estate practice, and that building up a client list takes time.  You should make sure that you have sufficient capital available to support yourself if your personal income goals are not met as soon as you would like.

Show/Hide AnswerWhat expenses do I need to plan for?

Before you make a commitment to a career in real estate, make sure you have adequate savings to complete the education and licensing requirements.  Here are some of the initial and ongoing budget items you should plan for:

  • 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. 

Show/Hide AnswerHow 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.  

Education Guide


To become licensed you must successfully complete the Council’s education requirements. You should expect to take up to one year to complete the required licensing course and examination prior to becoming licensed.  

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. 

For more information, see

Show/Hide AnswerHow do I choose a real estate brokerage?

Before you submit your application for licensing to the Council, it must be signed by the managing broker of real estate brokerage who has committed to engage you.

To find a real estate brokerage that is a good fit for you, visit brokerages in your geographic area and talk to the managing broker, to find one with a fee structure and corporate environment that 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.

  • Find real estate brokerages in your area using the Council’s online Licensee Search.

You may change brokerages at any time once you are licensed, but you must tell the Council before you make the move, so that your licence can be amended. You cannot provide any real estate services unless you are engaged by a brokerage, and any business that you conduct must be done in the name of and on behalf of the brokerage with which you are engaged.

Show/Hide AnswerCan I run my own brokerage?

Most people who hold real estate licences are representatives. With sufficient training and experience, you may be able to qualify as an associate broker or managing broker, with responsibility for the management of a brokerage.

To upgrade your licence and become an associate broker or managing broker, you must first successfully complete the Broker’s Licensing Course at the UBC Real Estate Division.  To be eligible for enrolment in the course, you must have been licensed as a representative for six months. 

Before your licence will be upgraded, you must have been licensed as a representative for a minimum of two years during the preceding five years prior to changing your status.

If you are thinking about becoming licensed as an associate broker or managing broker in British Columbia, please read the Broker Licensing Guidelines for more detailed information.

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.

Show/Hide AnswerOnce I’m licensed, will I need to take more courses?

The Relicensing Education Program (REP) requires licensees to complete applicable continuing education courses every licensing cycle as a condition of continued licensing.  

A number of opportunities are available for further increasing one’s knowledge, for example:

For more information on these and other courses, visit the Real Estate Division at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

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

Show/Hide AnswerDo I meet the age requirement?

You must be at least 19 years of age to be eligible for real estate licensing in BC (see section 10(b)(i) of the Real Estate Services Act).

However, if you are interested in a career in real estate and you are not yet 19, you can still complete the licensing course and examination. You have up to one year after the date of passing a licensing exam to apply for your real estate licence.

You may want to consider exploring real estate-related post-secondary programs, such as:

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