Commercial real estate agents primarily sell non-residential properties, such as businesses, warehouses, industrial properties and multifamily rental properties. Commercial agents may also be property managers. Although all states require that real estate agents and brokers be licensed, some states combine residential and commercial licenses and others separate them. In either case, you must first meet the basic requirements for licensure and pass a licensing exam.
What Is Commercial
Commercial real estate is different in many ways from home sales. The commercial agent may represent both buyers and sellers, rather than primarily representing the seller as is common in residential real estate. A commercial agent is more likely to be independent rather than an employee, and to work on commission. Some agents specialize in a particular area such as offices, retail stores or industrial development, or in a particular geographic area. Agents might work in development, project management or leasing, and may also carry out day-to-day property management, such as staffing or handling repairs and maintenance.
To become licensed in real estate, you must first meet the minimum qualifications. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the basic requirements in most states include a minimum age -- usually 18. A high school diploma is the minimum educational qualification, but some states also require that you take college courses in real estate or complete state-accredited pre-licensing courses to take the licensing exam. You might also want to obtain a commercial real estate certificate, which is typically offered by community colleges or universities. In some states, you must pass a background check.To become a broker -- an independent business owner -- you must typically have several years of experience in real estate sales. Some states -- California is one -- also have residency requirements.
Other Licensing Requirements
Each state determines the licensing requirements for real estate agents and brokers. Some require separate licenses. In Alaska, California, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia, for example, real estate brokers who manage commercial properties must have a separate license, according to the Institute of Real Estate Management. The examination requirements may also vary by state. In Oregon, for example, questions on the real estate licensing examination include only one section on commercial properties. The major topics listed for this section include accessibility, tax depreciation and trust fund accounts for income property.
Working Out of State
To prepare for a commercial real estate license, begin by researching the requirements in your state. If you think you might be working in more than one state, expand your research. Many states have reciprocity agreements that allow brokers to work in more than one state, but they may have state-specific requirements you must meet. In Maryland, for example, you must obtain a temporary license for the specific commercial transaction you want to handle. North Carolina has a similar rule but you can manage multiple commercial transactions. California does not allow out-of-state brokers to operate in the state. The state licensing commission in each state can provide you with the exact requirements.
2016 Salary Information for Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents earned a median annual salary of $46,810 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, real estate brokers and sales agents earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,850, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $76,200, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 444,100 people were employed in the U.S. as real estate brokers and sales agents.