Each month we take a deeper look at one career pathway in particular. For in-depth profiles of over 600 job profiles, take a look at the Indigo Careers module. This month we take a look at the role of an Estate Agent*.

Qualifications and courses:

No formal qualifications are required to become an estate agent. It is useful for entrants to have 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England). Most entrants start as a trainee negotiator and undertake an NVQ in the Sale of Residential Property (Level 2). A degree, Foundation degree or HND in subjects such as property management, urban and land studies or civil and structural engineering, may increase your chances of employment in a competitive industry or a background in sales, customer service or administration could be advantageous.

Training is mostly carried out on the job. It may involve studying for Technical Awards offered by Propertymark, such as the Sale of Residential Property, Residential Letting and Property Management and Commercial Property Agency. Propertymark also offer Certificates in these subjects, which are intended for those with around 3 years’ experience. Both the Technical Awards and the Certificates may be studied by distance learning or part-time at a college. Further training may qualify you to become an energy assessor or surveyor.

School leavers looking to become an estate agent administrator can enrol on the Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Property Services and those who want to become an estate agent could consider the Advanced Apprenticeship.

As an estate agent, you will be required to hold a valid driving licence.

What the work involves:

Estate agents are responsible for selling or letting residential or commercial properties on behalf of their clients. Properties are valued based upon factors such as their condition, location, comparison to other properties and the current housing market.

Estate agents market a property, show prospective buyers around and negotiate prices to ensure the best deal for their client. During the selling process you will have to liaise with banks, surveyors, mortgage brokers and solicitors.

Type of person suited to this work:

You will need excellent speaking and listening skills so that you can recommend suitable properties to potential buyers. You also have to be good at negotiating so that you can help buyers and sellers to agree prices for properties.

You must be confident dealing with people and prepared to work hard to achieve sales.

As you will be dealing with the figures when valuing properties or negotiating prices, you will need numeracy skills and an interest in keeping up to date with what is happening in the housing and property markets.

Working Conditions:

Some of your time will be spent in the branch office, and the rest of the time you will be visiting properties, so a driving licence is needed.

Estate agency branches are often modern and open plan with up-to-date equipment. You will spend a lot of your time working at a computer and speaking to your customers on the phone.

This can be very stressful work as you will have sales targets to reach and your earnings will depend on your selling ability. You are likely to need to work at the weekends and evenings (with some time off during the week instead).

Future prospects:

Estate agents are located throughout the UK but there tend to be fewer opportunities in a poor housing market and within rural areas. Positions are not always advertised, therefore you may need to make general enquiries.

With experience and qualifications, there are opportunities for promotion, especially in larger companies. You may move from trainee to negotiator, then to senior negotiator and on to branch manager. If you have established a substantial client base, you may opt to become self-employed or to carry out freelance work. You could set up your own agency or become a partner in a firm.


The work can be stressful if you are finding it hard to meet sales targets, especially if you are working on a commission-only basis in a slowing housing market.

When the property market is booming, or for those who are very skilled in sales, the financial rewards can be high.

Money guide

  • Estate agents’ earnings are usually a combination of a basic salary plus commission based upon their sales figures. Some estate agents work for commission only.
  • Starting salaries for new entrants are around £15,000.
  • With experience you can expect to earn between £20,000 and £25,000 a year.
  • Those employed at a managerial level can achieve up to £40,000.


Further information
Visit the NAEA Propertymark website.

*Information in this profile taken from Careers, from Trotman Publishing – part of the Indigo family.