MAR’s Online Education and CE PAG was formed in 2007 to research comprehensive and inclusive online education options for Massachusetts Realtors®, and to analyze continuing education and pre-licensing requirements which currently exist in Massachusetts.
Research conducted by the 13-member PAG, which was chaired in 2007 and 2008 by Secretary/Treasurer Trisha McCarthy, included examining online education options. A member-wide survey was conducted on the subject of online education with data received from over 1,300 respondents. Additionally, a review of continuing education requirements nationwide was done which revealed Massachusetts as the only state in the country without any form of distance education for CE credit; and, reviews of research on the effectiveness of online education were compared to traditional methods.
The PAG conferred with the local Association Executive Committee on the philosophical concepts of online continuing education, and also compiled information from state associations on their online programs and regulatory language pertaining to online CEs in their state.
Current CE and Licensing Requirements
The second task of the PAG over the past two years was to analyze current CE and pre-licensing requirements in the state. Informal surveys of state Realtor® association executive officers were conducted and a comprehensive review was completed of the requirements for salesperson pre-licensing, licensing of brokers and continuing education for all 50 states as outlined by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (Arello).
The PAG reviewed requirements for numerous Massachusetts professional organizations allowing online CE, including real estate appraisers, nurses, CPAs, pharmacists, social workers, architects and others, plus studied the regulatory language allowing online CE courses from a majority of the states in the U.S.
The PAG concluded that professionalism of brokers and salespersons through education is vital to the industry and consumer protection. Currently, the national averages for salesperson pre-licensing hours and brokers pre-licensing hours are 66 and 104 respectively. However, Massachusetts hourly requirements are 63% less for salesperson pre-licensing and 63% less for broker pre-licensing than the national average.
A Comprehensive Plan
After careful analysis of their research, the PAG recommended a comprehensive online CE program with inclusion of additional CE credit hour requirements to the MAR Board of Directors at the December 3, 2008 meeting.
The Board of Directors formally approved a comprehensive plan for continuing education requirements which includes:
• Improving the process of approving alternate continuing education credit programs;
• Supporting an increase to 40 hours for salesperson pre-licensing education to include updating curriculum topics;
• Supporting an increase from 12 to 20 hours of continuing education every 24 months for license renewal;
• Recommending an increase in education required to sit for the broker exam from 30 to 40 hours and from one to three years experience.