Real Estate Agent Salary Guide: What to Expect

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

This article will explore the average salaries of real estate agents by region. It will also discuss factors that can influence a real estate agent’s salary to empower you with the knowledge of how much you can expect to earn as a real estate agent.

[Featured image] Real estate agent discussing a property with a prospective client

Real estate agents facilitate property exchanges, representing buyers and sellers and providing their clients with updated information regarding properties listed for sale. They also act as mediators in purchase negotiations and contracts between buyers and sellers, ensuring the meeting of the terms of the property agreement.

As a real estate agent, you will be responsible for listing and comparing properties for your clients and drafting leases, contracts, closing statements, and purchase agreements. Let’s look closer at typical real estate agent salaries and some factors that may impact your earnings to help you envision your professional path forward.

Read more: What Is a Real Estate Agent? Your 2024 Career Guide

How do real estate agents make money?

In this profession, you typically earn much of your income from sales commissions. The average real estate commission in the United States is between 5 and 6 percent, and each agent and broker involved in the deal will earn a percentage of that number. Your income also depends on your experience in the field, the types of properties you are selling, and your location. Your salary will likely increase as you become more experienced and begin to secure more sales with higher listings.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment rates for real estate agents should grow 3 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is on par with the growth rate across all jobs [1]. According to Lightcast, the average annual salary for real estate sales agents averages $99,179 [2].

When you compare the salaries reported by various salary and job outlook sources, the average salary for real estate agents ranges from $49,987 to $123,283. The chart below details salary ranges from five sources:

$99,179 (2)$49,987 (median) (1)$91,788 (3)$119,595 (4)$96,680 (5)

Your experience level, location, education, and possible commissions ultimately contribute to your overall income.

How much is the average first-year real estate agent's salary?

According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for entry-level real estate agents in the US is $90,357 annually. That includes an average base salary of $56,236, which will typically come from commissions, and $31,371 in additional income, which could consist of extras like profit-sharing or bonuses [4].

In your first year as a real estate agent, you will gain experience that will contribute to a higher salary in the future. Because your experience level is closely tied to your ability to increase your income, consider obtaining certifications to help develop your skills and increase your first-year real estate agent salary. 

Where do real estate agents work?

As a real estate agent, you will most likely work in an office setting, but you’ll spend most of your working hours showing properties to clients off-site. You can decide if you want to work as an independent contractor or join a real estate firm as an employee.

Typically, real estate agents work as independent contractors rather than full-time employees. As a real estate agent, you will be under the supervision of a broker from your firm. You may be on call for your clients and work various hours during the day to assist them. You will have to arrange for travel to and from the properties you are currently managing.

As an independent contractor, you will sign an agreement with the agency you choose to work with and set your own work schedule. While you may have to work irregular hours, you will also have the autonomy to decide when to accept new clients.

Factors that influence real estate agent’s salary

As a real estate agent, your salary is determined by various factors, including but not limited to education, experience, sector, and location.


The educational requirements for real estate agents vary by state, but you typically must be 18, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and complete pre-licensing courses and exams. Some states, like California and New York, don’t require any general education requirements outside of the pre-licensing coursework. An associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field like business or real estate may be helpful, but it is not necessary in all states.

You will also need to take the broker’s exam to become a real estate broker. A broker position is an advancement from a real estate agent, as it requires additional licensure and often involves overseeing other agents within a real estate agency.


When you enter the real estate field, you will likely start by working under a real estate broker to gain experience. As many real estate agents are independent contractors and not employees, you are personally responsible for the experience and, therefore, the salary you attain.

Some real estate agents will work as employees for brokerage firms, but in most cases, you will determine your own working schedule and handle your clients. If you work at a real estate company, you will likely complete formal training to prepare you for the real estate exam or improve your skill set as a real estate agent.


The real estate sector you enter will factor into your income level. Whether you are planning on specializing in the commercial or residential real estate sector, you’ll find that your commissions will correlate with the sale price of the property you’re managing. Typically, real estate agents who work with commercial real estate will have higher salaries, as their overall commissions are higher. If you work in commercial real estate, you will often deal with companies and businesses looking to buy properties for profit. These properties may take longer to sell, but your overall salary will increase since the sale prices are typically higher.

On the other hand, residential real estate can result in more frequent sales as the turnover rate is quicker. Typically, your clients will be families seeking to buy or sell homes. You can sell more quickly than a commercial real estate agent since buying and selling is much faster than commercial real estate. Ultimately, you may be able to raise your commission income if you’re able to take on more residential properties in a given year.


Some critical skills to cultivate as a real estate agent include being personable and communicative with your clients while negotiating deals. Communication involves being aware of body language, being articulate, making clients feel comfortable, and actively listening to their wants and concerns. Good communication skills can help you become a firm negotiator as you navigate deals and market properties to your clients. A strong ability to form interpersonal relationships is necessary, as this can help foster a sense of trust between you and your clients. Additionally, it’s essential to have patience as a real estate agent, as deals can often take a long time to close.

Read more: How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agent salary by state

The average real estate agent salary varies regionally throughout the US. These are the top 10 states with the highest-paying salaries for real estate agents, according to ZipRecruiter [6]:

  • Washington: $100,261

  • Delaware: $93,913

  • Virginia: $92,296

  • Maryland: $90,887

  • New York: $90,773

  • Vermont: $88,900

  • Nebraska: $88,762

  • Oklahoma: $85,960

  • California: $85,825

  • Massachusetts: $84,775

Ready to take the next step in your real estate career?

Suppose you are planning on becoming a real estate agent. In that case, you must first determine which real estate sector you are interested in and whether you want to work as an independent contractor or an employee at an agency. You may need to improve on interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

As a real estate agent, being well-versed in customer service, negotiating, and marketing is also important. On Coursera, you can find courses such as Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills or Finance for Non-Finance Professionals to improve upon the skills needed to communicate with clients and conduct real estate business. 

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents,” Accessed January 23, 2024.

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