Christian Swalm, a 17-year-old Middletown High School senior, recently became one of the youngest Delawareans ever to pass the national and state real estate exams.

Most teens have at least thought about what career they’d like to pursue by the time they reach their senior year of high school.

Some even decide on an occupation.

Then there are students like Christian Swalm, who can’t wait for graduation to begin pursuing their chosen career.

“I feel like the earlier I start, the bigger the jump I’ll have on other people,” said the 17-year-old Middletown High School senior, who recently became one of the youngest Delawareans ever to pass the national and state real estate exams. “Plus, in real estate, there is no ceiling on how much I can make. It just depends on how hard I work.”

Swalm showed he has the capacity for hard work last summer when he gave up family vacations and time with his friends to enroll in a 99-hour real estate sales pre-licensing course with his father, Jamie.

“He came to me one day and said I want to be a real estate agent, so I connected him with some people I know in the business and the more time he spent with them, the more excited about it he became,” said Jamie, a pastor at Reflections Bible Church, which meets at Alfred G. Waters Middle School. “I decided that if we were going to let him do this, we would do it together and make it a father/son thing.”

After passing the law, math and sales exams required to complete the course, the Swalms took the 180-minute national and state licensing exam last month.

“It was one of the most difficult tests I’ve ever taken,” said Jamie, who holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Regent University in Virginia. “I was only halfway done when Chris got up and turned in his test, so I was sure he had gotten frustrated and quit because it was such a brutal exam.”

Jamie was shocked to learn that his son not only finished the test, but also passed. Christian, meanwhile, says he was confident the entire time.

“I’m always fast in completing my exams,” he said. “I have a photographic memory, and beforehand I had been around it for hours and hours, so I knew I did well.”

While Christian has passed the required exams, he won’t become a licensed Realtor until the triplet and his brothers turns 18 in January. Even then, it might take some time before he’s ready to sell his first house.

In the meantime, he’ll be working towards completing high school and finishing his internship with Realtor Mike McGavisk at Keller Williams Realty in Newark.

“I’ve learned a lot from him already, like what they teach you in class is not what is going to make you successful in the long run,” Christian said. “It takes a lot of persistence and strategy to do well and I think I have what it takes.”

So does McGavisk, a former high school principal and licensed real estate broker in Delaware since 1987.

“He’s certainly driven,” McGavisk said. “He knows what he wants and how to go after it. And I think having this opportunity to be around other agents, hear the language and sit in on negotiations will really give him a good perspective that a lot of Realtors don’t get before they earn their license.”

Christian says he’s planning to forgo college, or at least take classes part-time, after high school so he can jump into his new career as soon as possible.

“I might be young, but some of the most successful entrepreneurs got their start young,” Christian said. “And in this business, the key is staying away from the crowd.”