Most of us have heard, and many of us have made statements to the effect of, "Real estate is not brain surgery (or rocket science)." There is at least one real estate professional who would likely dispute that, as President-elect Trump has tagged retired brain surgeon Ben Carson to run HUD.
No, real estate is not brain surgery, and brain surgery is not real estate. Does being a real estate professional require the skill level, training, or mental ability similar to that of a brain surgeon? My answer is that it depends. NAR's favorite REALTOR, Phil Dunphey certainly comes up a little short. Some of the people in the business come up a little short in product knowledge and common sense. Some of them have even achieved a reasonable level of success in the business.
Real estate is not unlike other professions that also have their fair share of intellectual underachievers. The legal field has its share of losers, including some who have managed to earn a good living anyway. Same is true with accountants, politicians, even doctors. If we were to judge the merits of a profession by its poorest performers, none would look very good. If judgment is to be made, it should be on a standard of performance, and most professions seem to come out at least OK.
Most professions require some combination of academic achievement and demonstrated expertise via testing and licensing. Real estate is not an exception to these requirements, but the initial bar is set fairly low. That low bar may be what contributes to what I see as a division among licensees. Some recognize that the bar is low and strive to improve on their competence, and the more they learn, the more they realize that they must continue to learn.
Then there are the folks who think that, because they managed an 85% on the exam that they know everything about everything. They often scoff at voluntary continuing education, labeling things like ABR, GRI, and CRS as meaningless letters that won't make you any money. They fail to recognize that, even if the letters don't make money, the journey may make them smart enough to understand how much they still have to learn.
Although many designations do not belong to the folks who earned them (NAR rents the title to you for an annual fee), the knowledge derived from meeting the educational requirements is theirs forever. Have you ever heard anyone who retires from real estate say that they regret learning so much?