There are many reasons to begin a career in real estate, from the job’s flexible schedule to the ability to be your own boss. If you’re considering launching a new career in real estate, you might also be wondering what your earning potential will be as an agent. 

The answer is complicated. Real estate can be an incredibly lucrative career path, but the amount you can expect to earn varies widely based on factors such as where you live, how long you’ve been working in the field, and how many transactions you’re involved in each year. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average U.S. real estate agent makes $82,898 per year. New agents aren’t likely to be earning that amount right away — like in many career fields, earnings often increase over time. In the real estate industry, hard work and experience correlate with significant increases in income for active real estate agents. Put simply, if you’re willing to invest your time and energy into your career, your hard work will ultimately pay off. 

How Much Do Agents Make in Each State? 

On average, real estate agents earn the most in Washington, Maryland, Nebraska, Virginia, and New York, according to ZipRecruiter. 

  1. Washington: $92,287 
  1. Maryland: $91,113 
  1. Nebraska: $89,212 
  1. Virginia: $88,041 
  1. New York: $87,938 

Here’s what an average real estate agent earns in each state: 

  • Alabama: $69,575 
  • Alaska: $75,172
  • Arizona: $73,849 
  • Arkansas: $65,918 
  • California: $82,611 
  • Colorado: $70,210 
  • Connecticut: $76,717 
  • Delaware: $85,294 
  • Florida: $67,145 
  • Georgia: $71,241 
  • Hawaii: $78,893  
  • Idaho: $77,650 
  • Illinois: $65,560 
  • Indiana: $73,376 
  • Iowa: $69,498 
  • Kansas: $70,192 
  • Kentucky: $67,105 
  • Louisiana: $70,584 
  • Maine: $76,628 
  • Maryland: $91,113 
  • Massachusetts: $81,493  
  • Michigan: $65,889 
  • Minnesota: $72,782 
  • Mississippi: $65,757 
  • Missouri: $64,512 
  • Montana: $74,617 
  • Nebraska: $89,212 
  • Nevada: $74,581 
  • New Hampshire: $85,074 
  • New Jersey: $74,705 
  • New Mexico: $68,782 
  • New York: $87,938 
  • North Carolina: $60,057 
  • North Dakota: $74,559 
  • Ohio: $72,184 
  • Oklahoma: $82,915 
  • Oregon: $71,262 
  • Pennsylvania: $75,131 
  • Rhode Island: $75,619 
  • South Carolina: $70,477 
  • South Dakota: $72,381 
  • Tennessee: $72,712 
  • Texas: $75,225 
  • Utah: $71,254 
  • Vermont: $80,225 
  • Virginia: $88,041 
  • Washington: $92,287 
  • West Virginia: $76,425 
  • Wisconsin: $72,395 
  • Wyoming: $78,673 

Source: ZipRecruiter 

How Do Real Estate Agents Make Money? 

The way that real estate agents make money is different from the way that many other professionals make money. Most real estate agents aren’t salaried. Instead, they often make a commission off the sale of a property.  

When a home is sold, the commission is often split four ways: between the listing agent, their Broker, the buying agent, and the buying agent’s Broker. In most cases, the seller is the one who pays the commission. 

Because the commission is typically a percentage of the sale price, the more expensive the home, the more you’ll make. 

How New Agents Can Grow Their Incomes 

As a real estate agent, your income will likely grow as you gain more experience. One of the most important things you can do in your first year as a real estate agent is to lay the foundation for your career by focusing on affordable marketing opportunities, effective networking, smart earning strategies, and industry education. 

Check out our top 10 tips for setting yourself up for success in your first year as a real estate agent. 

Develop a Social Media Strategy
Use your social media accounts to spread the word about your new career! Early on, you won’t have completed many transactions yourself, but you can emphasize your educational achievements and talk about the brokerage you’ve joined.  

Focus on High-Priced Markets
When you’re working with a homebuyer or seller, your commission will be based on a percentage of the home’s sale price. That means that you can jumpstart your earnings as a new agent by initially focusing on higher-priced real estate markets. 

Customer Service Is Key
If you’re known as a kind, helpful, and trustworthy agent, your clients will refer you to their friends and family. “Word of mouth” marketing is one of the best free tools that you can rely on as a new agent! 

Never Stop Learning
The real estate industry is always changing, and it’s important for you to stay up to date. In addition to completing your Continuing Education requirements, industry certifications and designations can give you a leg up over the competition. You can also shadow a mentor at your brokerage firm to gain invaluable, experience-based industry insights. 

Get Creative
It takes a bit of creativity to stand out from other real estate professionals. Start brainstorming creative marketing ideas, such as writing blog posts on community topics to show your knowledge of the area. 

Attend Community Events
Check out local events in your area, such as farmer’s markets or festivals, to learn more about your community and find people who might need an agent. You could even consider setting up a booth at one of the events! 

Learn From Your Broker
As you begin your career as a real estate agent, your Broker will be an excellent resource. They can introduce you to their network and provide you with the tips and tools you need to be successful as a new agent. 

Join the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)
With more than 1.5 million members, NAR is the real estate industry’s largest trade association. Membership comes with perks such as marketing tools and industry discounts, and 1 in 4 REALTORS® earns $100,000 or more per year. 

Set Goals
Because real estate is a flexible career with the ability to be your own boss and set your own schedule, it’s important for you to set specific, achievable goals to keep yourself on track. For example, you could decide that you want to gather 10 leads within your first week. Consider sharing your goals with others — giving periodic progress reports to your peers has been shown to increase your chances of success. 

Make Real Estate Your Side Hustle
Your first year in real estate can be tough, and a good way to ensure that you can pay your bills while you build your new career is by taking an hourly position doing a real estate-adjacent job, such as administrative or marketing work. Working in the industry is also a quick way to pick up on everything from the latest trends to expert negotiation tips. 

Don’t forget: In real estate, your potential is limitless, from how much you can earn to what you can accomplish. Good luck in your new real estate career!