How to Get a Real Estate License

Want to be a real estate agent? You’re not alone. Statistics show that the number of realtors has increased significantly in 2020. It’s also expected to grow even further due to the growth of the housing market in 2021.
A lot of people prefer a career in real estate because of the freedom, flexibility, and high income. Given the flexibility of the working hours, the sky's the limit when it comes to money.
What does it take to become a real estate agent, though? How to get a real estate license? Let’s find out.

What Is a Real Estate License?

A real estate license is a government-issued authorization that allows you to represent a buyer or a seller during a real estate transaction. The license means that you meet standards and assures clients to work with you.
Issuing a real estate license may take 3-6 months. The required pre-license online or in-person course costs between $300 and $1000 and the application fee ranges between $100 and $200.
Note that the main difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is the membership of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That said, a realtor is basically a real estate agent with membership to NAR.

Why Become a Real Estate Agent?

There are many reasons people shift their careers to real estate every day, including:
  • The Money
This is one of the most important factors that play into people aspiring to be real estate agents. According to Zippia, the average income of real estate agents in 2022 is $93,100.
  • The Diversity
There’s a great variety in this job. A real estate agent works with different clients and numerous houses. There’s absolutely no routine.
  • The Flexibility
As someone who works in real estate, you’re your own boss. You choose your working hours and capacity. You may even work from home.

What Is Required to Get a Real Estate License?

Every state sets its own licensing process, qualifications, cost, and timeline. You must be fully aware of the specific requirements of your state.
However, there are some general requirements that apply to all states such as the pre-licensing course, the license exam, and the application process.

How to Get a Real Estate License in a Few Steps?

Want to get your real estate license? Here are the steps you need to follow:
  • Research the Requirements of Your State
The licensing and educational requirements differ from one state to the other. You can check your state’s real estate commission to find out the specifics.
Requirements may also differ if you’re a licensed lawyer or if you have a degree in real estate. However, most states require:
  • Permanent residency in the state
  • 18 years old or more
  • A pre-license course
  • A criminal background check
Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow a real estate agent to work across state lines.
For example, if you have a real estate license in New York, you’re not required to take a pre-licensing course when applying to nine other states, which include Connecticut and Massachusetts.
  • Finish the Educational Requirements
The educational requirements may differ from one state to the other. For example, the required course takes about 135 hours in California, 180 in Texas, and only 75 in New York.
These educational requirements teach you the basic principles and terms, real estate practices, and the legal aspects of the job.
Most states offer a variety of options. You can take the course over a set number of weeks or at your own pace. You can also take the course online if you want.
You should compare the real estate schools and choose what fits you.
  • Apply for the Licensing Test
You should take the licensing test right after you finish the course. Applying for the test may take some time, though.
Some states don’t require you to finish the required pre-licensing course before applying. This way, applicants can finish the course while waiting for the test application to process.
The course instructor should walk you through the process of scheduling, registering, and paying for your licensing exam. Otherwise, revisit your state’s real estate commission website for information.
It’s a computerized MCQ test. It’s divided into two sections: one on federal real estate laws and general principles, and the other on state-specific real estate laws.
  • Pass the Licensing Test
You need to pass both sections. If you fail one or both, you can retake the exam. The rules of retaking the test vary according to the state.
The passing score also differs according to the state. However, most states require a minimum score of 70%.
  • Apply to Get the Real Estate License
Now that you’ve passed the test, you can apply for the license. You’ll need to submit your test results along with the required fees for the application.
Make sure whether your state requires you to get Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance before you apply. Once submitted, the license application takes from one to eight weeks to process.
  • Join a Real Estate Brokerage
Even after obtaining your license, you still can’t legally practice real estate. You need to work under the supervision of a brokerage. A broker is state-licensed to ensure that a newbie follows legal and ethical standards.
At this point, you’re mostly getting paid by commission. You need to complete a transaction to get paid. There are different types of brokerages, so make sure you choose the right one.
  • Join the National Association of Realtors (NAR)
Joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is an optional but beneficial step.
If you’re a member of NAR, you can participate in Multiple Listing Services (MLS) that allow you to see the listings of other realtors.
  • Renew Your License Regularly
Remember to renew your license every two or four years, depending on state requirements.
Note also that some states require taking courses for renewal to ensure that you’re up to date with the market changes.


It’s not difficult to obtain a real estate license. It mostly depends on the state in which you wish to practice. However, there are some general requirements such as the pre-licensing course, the licensing test, and the application process.
A career in real estate has a lot of potential benefits such as unlimited income, flexible working conditions, and a dynamic environment.
So, how to get a real estate license?
You should start by researching your state’s specific requirements. Then, you need to take the pre-licensing course and pass the licensing test.
With your course certification and course results, you may apply for a license, find a brokerage, and start selling houses.