How To Get A Real Estate License: A Three-Step Guide


Learning how to get real estate license credentials is an important step in an investor’s career. With the ability to act as a licensed real estate agent, investors will find themselves with more opportunities than ever before. Even the act of deciding to become a licensed agent suggests a level of dedication that will only help further an investor’s career. That said, real estate licenses aren’t simply handed out; they are earned. There are several criteria one must meet in order to become a licensed real estate agent and I break down the steps below.

Step 1: Complete The Prerequisites

Each and every state across the country has established its own set of pre-licensing requirements that must be met before anyone can take their real estate licensing exam. In other words, aspiring real estate agents must satisfy the prerequisites unique to the states in which they hope to practice. While each state will vary, the most basic prerequisites to practice as a real estate agent are as follows:

  • Aspiring real estate agents must be at least 18 or 19, depending on the state in which they want to practice.

  • Aspiring real estate agents must be able to prove they have legal U.S. residency.

  • Some states may require their agents to have received their high school diploma—or equivalent—to pursue a career in real estate.

  • Some states may require experience working with a licensed real estate broker before they can take the licensing exam.

Once each prerequisite is met for their respective state, aspiring real estate agents may then start getting ready for their exam by taking the appropriate courses.

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Step 2: Take A Pre-Licensing Course

While every state requires its upcoming class of real estate agents to complete a certain amount of pre-licensing curriculum before they are allowed to take their real estate license exam, the number of hours expected will vary dramatically. Hopeful real estate agents in California, for example, are required to complete 135 hours of pre-licensing coursework before they can even take the exam. However, states like New York and Florida require considerably less, 75 and 63 hours respectively.

Prospective agents who are unaware of their own state’s requirements are advised to contact their local real estate commission to determine their own prerequisites. Contact the local authorities to learn which classes are necessary to meet your own state’s pre-licensing requirements. Attendees should expect the coursework to cost anywhere from $100 up to $1,000, depending on the educational provider.

Classes range from online courses to live classroom locations that can be taken at some realty firms, universities and technical schools. As a result, students should take a class that suits their own learning style and facilitates a better educational experience. Likewise, the coursework will be difficult and rigorous, but the classes are intended to prepare attendees for a career in the real estate industry.

Step 3: Pass The Real Estate Licensing Exam

Not surprisingly, the prerequisite coursework is intended to prepare hopeful real estate agents for their state-administered real estate licensing examination. The exam often includes a national portion and a state-specific portion, and—like everything else—will depend on the state it is taken in. Each portion of the exam is designed to test each person’s comprehension of the prerequisite coursework. That way, test takers may demonstrate their knowledge of real estate practices, policies, and terminology. More importantly, the state licensing exam is the best barometer for determining one’s retention of the knowledge they gleaned from the relicensing courses.

The real estate exam is designed to be hard, as to make sure those who pass it will be prepared to become licensed agents. As a result, not everyone passes it on the first try. It is worth noting, however, that there are a few things you may do to tip the scales in your favor:

  • Take the exam ASAP: Take the exam as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure the information is fresh and readily available to tap into.

  • Study your state’s license law: Familiarize yourself with your own state’s licensing laws.

  • Memorize terms: Dedicate a large amount of time to studying the terminology of the real estate industry.

  • Focus on key concepts: Learn and understand concepts fully. Know how these are applied, be they fiduciary responsibility, types of property ownership, or math formulas. Details are important, but concepts are even more important.

  • Take prep exams: Practice tests are designed to prepare test takers even further. To ensure you are prepared, it may be in your interest to take a few practice tests first.

  • Study in groups: Studying with other students may increase accountability; it motivates you to study for a set amount of time.

Aspiring agents should wait to take the exam until they are confident in their knowledge of the industry. If for nothing else, the exam costs money; money that must be paid every time it is taken.

Next Steps

The real estate licensing exam is intended to establish one’s comprehension of the housing industry before they are able to put their knowledge into practice. That way, real estate agents may enter their field with the confidence and tools necessary to succeed. However, passing the test doesn’t automatically grant people a real estate license; they still need to apply for one. Aspiring agents who have passed the licensing exam must submit an application to the state board in order to finally become licensed. Applicants will be expected to pay a fee (which varies from state to state) and pass a background check, but if everything checks out, they’ll be given what they have worked so hard to achieve: a real estate license.

It should be noted, however, that receiving a real estate license doesn’t give anyone the legal right to work with buyers or sellers. After all, an agent is licensed to act on behalf of a broker and may not act as a real estate agent independently until they have chosen a broker to hang their license under. Once aligned with a broker, prospective agents will need to jointly submit their final paperwork to the state. If the paperwork clears and the agent’s status with a broker is confirmed, the real estate license will be issued, and the new agent may practice real estate under the sponsorship of the broker.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Real Estate License?

Due, in large part, to state-mandated educational waiting periods and subsequent requirements, the length of the real estate licensing process is entirely dependent on the state in which the agent hopes to practice. In California, for example, prospective agents need to take 135 hours of pre-licensing coursework, which can take anywhere from a few months to a year to complete. Agents in Florida, however, are only required to take 63 hours of coursework. Therefore, those who are truly looking to identify how long it takes to get licensed need to first check with their state board’s requirements. One thing is for certain, however: it won’t happen overnight.

How Hard Is It To Get Your Real Estate License?

Getting a real estate license is only as hard as aspiring agents make it. Not unlike just about everything else, investors will get out of it what they put in. That said, those who dedicate their time to fully understanding the real estate industry and respect the education they are receiving will be much better prepared for what’s to come. In other words, those who take it seriously will find that getting their license isn’t easy, but it’s certainly rewarding. Those who take it seriously and dedicate the appropriate amount of time to studying should find it fair.

What Is The Best Place To Get Your Real Estate License?

The best place to get a real estate license has more to do with an investor’s confidence than a physical location. Practicing as a licensed real estate agent will require a depth of knowledge that can only come with working in a familiar area. That said, it’s always a good idea to get licensed in the state you are most comfortable working in.


Learning how to get real estate license credentials is an important step for investors. Few choices, for that matter, will have a greater impact on one’s career path in the real estate industry than whether or not they become a licensed agent. While far from necessary, obtaining a real estate license can open up a lot of doors that were previously closed, and perhaps even take an investor’s career further than they ever imagined. Just remember one thing: real estate licenses aren’t simply handed out to everyone that asks for them, they are a reward for the hard work and time many put in to become a licensed agent.

Key Takeaways

  • Learning how to get real estate license credentials is as simple as talking to your state’s board and following the same path many have taken before you.

  • The best place to get your real estate license is where you feel the most comfortable practicing.

  • In order to get real estate license credentials, aspiring agents need to complete a number of prerequisites before taking a test and aligning themselves with a broker.