OK, my language in the headline is a bit extreme. For all I know, your professional destiny might lie in real estate sales and might provide you a very comfy living. But the odds don't seem stacked in your favor, at least not in California.

If you pay attention to real estate stories in the news, you're probably familiar with pieces asking whether there is really a real estate bubble going on now, and stories about interest rates rising or falling, and about mortgages and remodeling. I'm used to this kind of stuff, too, and even enjoy much of it. But at the marginalrevolution.com blog the other day, I read some fascinating factoids that were new to me:

"One of the few things increasing faster than house prices in California is the supply of agents licensed to sell them. More than 22,000 applicants took the state's real estate exam in April, nearly three times as many as in April 2003, according to the Department of Real Estate. To handle the surge, the department has rented six test centers around the state to supplement the five it already has. The last time so many people wanted to sell real estate in California was in 1990. In what might be an ominous sign for the current boom, that year marked a peak in the housing market.." Author Alex Tabarrok added: "There are 437,000 agents in California, enough to form the state's eighth-largest city. With only 680,000 home sales a year, competition for listings can be savage." Wow.

This drives home the point that one should be careful when considering careers. Many articles may extol the virtues of the agent's life and the big bucks that many successful agents make, but there are often some critical details missing that should inform your decisions. For example, given the competition out there, surely many new agents are quickly washed up -- after considerable investments in training. With the Internet making it easier for people to search for homes, and increased numbers of realtors leading to more competitive pricing on commissions, times can be tough for many real estate agents.

If you're more inclined to use a real estate agent than be one, we can help. Click over to our Home Center, which features many money-saving tips and even some special mortgage rates.

Learn more about buying, selling and maintaining a home in these articles:

If you're not in the market for a new property or profession, you might still invest in real estate -- via stocks. For example, you might find some stocks of homebuilders attractive now or worth adding to your watch list for more attractive purchasing opportunities. Mike Cianciolo recently wrote admiringly about luxury home builder Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL), for example, while Stephen Simpson tackledHovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV). Toll Brothers expects to earn 70% more in this fiscal year than it did in the previous one, while Hovnanian is firing on all cylinders, reporting strong numbers.

Another way to invest in real estate is through real estate investment trusts (REITs). Learn more "Should You Bank on This REIT?" You can see which REITs (and hefty-dividend-paying stocks) we've recommend by taking advantage of a free trial of our Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter.

Finally, be sure to visit our Buying or Selling a Home and Building/Maintaining a Home discussion boards, to get some great insights and tips from fellow Fools.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.