Q: I have been thinking about getting my real estate license for several years now and would very much like to become an agent.

My question is regarding career outlooks for agents in the North Georgia area.

I’m not even sure what an average agent (not that I plan to be average!) can expect to make in a year! What are the responsibilities of being a great agent? Should I make plans to transition into this career?

A: According to the Department of Labor, bureau of labor statistics, the median income for a real estate agent is about $39,000 per year, as of May, 2006, which appear to be the latest available statistics. The middle 50 percent earn between $26,790 and $65,270 a year, and the top 10 percent earn around $111,500 per year.

Of course, superstar agents can earn several times that top number.

If you’re a real good real estate agent, the money will be there for you. But before you take the leap, you should learn everything you can about being a great real estate agent.

Top agents are always on-call for their clients. It’s a business where you have to be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – or someone else will walk away with your business. It’s tough to take a vacation, and you most certainly have to work weekends.

Good agents are detail-minded. There’s a lot of paperwork to stay on top of, and if you mess up, you could wind up hurting your buyers and sellers where it really counts – in their wallet.

There’s a lot of follow-up: You have to learn how to tell the difference between a real buyer or seller and someone who’s just playing around with the idea, or you’ll waste your time on folks from whom you’ll never earn a commission.

You should also learn about what’s happening in your local marketplace. Try to find a broker who is willing to take you into the fold and train you.

It’s one thing to pass the agent’s licensing exam and it’s another to become a full-time working agent who is making a living.

For more information, start at the National Association of Realtors’ website, www.realtor.org, and then go online to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos120.htm#earnings.

March 14, 2008.