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

Blog, Real Estate

Real estate agent showing prospective buyers around a new home.

Many people use the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor® ” interchangeably. However, there are big differences between the two titles. Both titles require you to complete standard real estate licensing requirements, but Realtors®  complete additional professional certifications. If you’re interested in taking real estate classes, understanding these distinctions can help you create a tailored career plan that fits your goals.

Real Estate Agent 

Becoming a real estate agent can have many benefits. You can quickly establish your own business, use your creativity to market your services, and create a flexible schedule that fits your lifestyle. 

Real estate agents need to meet specific legal and educational standards in the states where they practice. In most states, real estate agents have to complete relevant coursework and pass criminal background checks. To become a real estate agent in the state of Ohio, you must: 

  • Be 18 years of age or older; 
  • Have no felony convictions;
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • Complete 120 hours of real estate coursework;
  • Be sponsored by an Ohio Broker; 
  • Be honest and truthful. 


All Realtors®  are real estate agents, meaning that both have completed the real estate coursework and licensing required to help clients buy and sell properties. However, licensed real estate agents may also become members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and become involved with the NAR at national, state, and local levels. When you’re a member of the NAR, you are referred to as a Realtor® and you’re required to act according to a set code of ethics. By becoming a member and adding the title “Realtor®” to your resume, you’re immediately conveying to clients that you’re a trustworthy agent.

How do you become a Realtor® ?

Realtor are not only responsible for staying up-to-date on their real estate license, they must also pass an NAR Code of Ethics certification course every four years. The Code of Ethics focuses on financial and business ethics, and commits Realtors® to treating their clients fairly and honestly.

Should you become a Realtor®?

Of course, real estate agents who are not certified as Realtors®  aren’t dishonest or unethical. But by pursuing a certification through the National Association of Realtors you demonstrate your commitment to acting in your clients’ best interest at all times. If you want to start your own business as a real estate agent, becoming a certified Realtor® can help you establish authority and credibility in the industry and in your community. And, as the largest trade organization in the United States, the National Association of Realtors can help you connect with other like-minded professionals in your city or state. 

If you’re interested in becoming a real estate agent or Realtor®, you deserve to start your career with the best education possible.  Our prelicensing courses are customized for students getting their real estate license in the state of Ohio. Enroll today and learn why over one million students have chosen Hondros as their real estate school. 

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