A business broker is someone paid to buy and sell businesses. Unlike a Realtor, who lists and sells real estate, a business broker specializes in buying and selling business entities. Becoming a business broker doesn’t require a considerable amount of advanced education; however, you must have a significant amount of industry experience. Some states require business brokers to be certified and licensed. To become a certified broker, you must also complete broker training. The following information will help you take the necessary steps to get certified and licensed in your state.
Find a business broker school. Although a business or finance degree isn’t a must to become a business broker, you must have considerable knowledge in the field of finance, economics, large-scale negotiations, corporate takeovers and commercial real estate. Certification status is important in many industry circles. It is also a requirement in many states. Business broker training courses can be completed online through in-class formats. Contact the International Association of Business Brokers and obtain a list of training centers (see Resources). By completing a training program, you will be recognized as a certified broker. In addition to your degrees, if you’ve earned them, being certified is proof you have extensive knowledge of the business. Find a business broker school that fits your needs.
Apply for a state license. In some states, you must obtain a license to operate as a business broker. State business broker licensees are commonly regulated by the same departments that oversee real estate or insurance agents, or the Department of Revenue. Contact your Secretary of State or Department of Revenue to find out if a business broker must obtain a business license to operate in your state. For example, the Alabama Department of Revenue provides a list of businesses, by industry, required to obtain a state license (see Resources). Download a copy of the license application or have one sent to you. Complete each form and send it the proper state office. Expect to pay an application fee of $50 to $200. When your application is approved, you will be required to pass a state test. You may be asked to produce proof that you’ve passed a certification class prior to taking the state examination. Complete your broker training course before applying for your state license.
If your state does not require business brokers to be licensed, proof that you have completed an official business broker training program is all you need to be certified.
Gain experience. Especially if you are new to the industry, it is a good idea to work for an established brokerage firm for a minimum of two years. This will allow you to work alongside veterans and receive the on-the-job training necessary to succeed on your own.