real estate brokers and agents

Real Estate Broker vs. Real Estate Agent: What’s the Difference?

You’ve heard the terms “real estate agent” and “real estate broker.” Sometimes, these labels are used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between the two job titles.

Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

Before we continue our discussion of brokers vs agents, it’s important to note that each state has its own requirements for real estate licensing. In most states, those entering the real estate profession become agents or salespeople. Experienced agents then take additional coursework and pass a test to become a broker. However, in some states (like Illinois), the entry-level license is a broker license, and an experienced agent is called a “managing broker.”

It’s important that you are aware of the labels and licensing requirements for your state if you wish to become a real estate agent.

1. Requirements

While all real estate brokers are also licensed agents, not all agents are brokers. Additional coursework is required to become a real estate broker. 

Broker requirements can vary from state to state, but in general, brokers must take a broker exam and apply for a separate license. In Florida, for example, brokers must complete 72 hours of approved pre-licensure broker education, pass a licensure examination, and submit to a background check (plus fingerprinting) at their own expense.

2. Level of Independence

In every state, real estate agents must work under the supervision of a more experienced broker. Even though real estate agents have a lot of independence in the day-to-day operations of running their business, they must work for (and share their commissions with) a brokerage. On the other hand, brokers can work independently – if they wish.

3. Duties

A real estate agent’s duty is to advise clients on real estate transactions. Brokers also can perform these same duties. However, they may also earn income by managing other agents at a real estate brokerage. In addition to having a supervisory role over other agents, a broker oversees the brokerage’s day-to-day operations, including running the office.

4. Salary

While real estate agents need to work for a brokerage, brokers can work independently — opening their own firms and hiring agents to work for them directly. In this sense, brokers also tend to have greater earning power. 

On average, a broker makes about $233,970, compared to an average salary of about $156,970 for a real estate agent, according to the 2023-2024 Colibri Real Estate Salary Guide.

Interested in Getting Started With Real Estate?

Depending on your state, there are some critical differences between real estate agents and real estate brokers. Both agents and brokers are essential in facilitating real estate transactions and keeping the industry running.

Whether you’re interested in a career as an agent or broker, Colibri Real Estate School can help you get started. Join more than 520,000 other real estate professionals who have gotten their start with our top online school! Contact our team to learn how to become an agent or become a broker and kickstart your career today.