If you’re interested in becoming a real estate professional, you’ve probably done some research on the path you need to head down. Each state’s requirements vary slightly, as do specifications based on the type of real estate role you want to take on. A broker license, for example, will generally need more real estate pre-license education than a real estate salesperson license.
Don’t worry. While becoming a licensed real estate professional is a multi-step process, it’s easier than ever before. That’s thanks to things like online pre-licensing education and digital license application portals.
Wondering how to become a Realtor®? That’s a separate thing entirely. To be a realtor, you need to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). You can technically be a realtor with a broker, salesperson, or appraiser license.
Realtor designation aside (because you’ll need to go to the NAR for that), we can help you get a general idea of the process to get a real estate broker license or a real estate salesperson license. The process for getting a real estate appraiser license differs, so we won’t dive into that here.
With this guide and the online education we offer, we hope to help you get your real estate salesperson license or broker license as easy as possible.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect to get your license.
In some states, this is as simple as being at least 18 or 19 years old and having a record free of any serious criminal offenses. You might also need a high school diploma or a social security number.
Some states require fingerprinting so they can run a thorough background check on you to make sure you’re trustworthy enough to help people with real estate sales and purchases.
This matters because for many people, buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions they’ll ever conduct in their lives. Your state’s real estate department wants to make sure you’ll handle the transaction ethically.
If you want a broker license, you might also be subject to experience requirements. In Michigan, for example, salespeople need three years of real estate experience before they can apply for a broker license.
Assuming you qualify to become a real estate professional, your state may require you to complete some pre-license education. These courses are designed to teach you what you need to know about the real estate industry.
The education hours you need vary by state. As a quick sample to give you an idea of what to expect, here are a few states’ requirements for salespeople or brokers:
Yes, you’ll need quite a few hours to get your license. But the good news is that you can take your hours online in many states. Choose online pre-license education and you can chip away at your hours at your own pace at any time that’s convenient for you.
Usually, states have other organizations (e.g., PSI or PearsonVUE) proctor these exams for them. The exam organization usually has testing locations throughout the state and offers the real estate exam periodically throughout the year.
Check your state’s real estate department to find out who oversees the real estate exam. In most cases, the exam proctor will offer a candidate bulletin. This bulletin has a lot of information to help you prepare for your test, like what to bring with you on your exam day and sample exam questions.
Don’t worry. You don’t need to ace your exam. In most states, you can pass if you get just 70-80% of the questions right.
In some states, you’ll submit this application as the first step of the process. Other states won’t accept your application until you finish your pre-license education and pass your exam. Look up your state’s requirements so you know when to send in your application.
Most states have an online application portal so you can send this document in digitally. Be prepared to pay an application fee a part of this step.
If you get a broker license, you can work for yourself. Once your state issues your broker license, you’re ready to start finding clients to establish your brokerage. Or, if you’d prefer, you can find an existing brokerage and work with or for them.
As a salesperson, you’ll need a broker to oversee your work in order to become a real estate agent. Basically, this broker will be your employer. Find a broker to sponsor you to activate your real estate salesperson license.
If any of the above steps sounded daunting, it was probably the pre-licensing course or the exam. Fortunately, you can repeat the exam if you don’t pass on the first time. With some patience and diligence, you should have no problem there.
So the biggest hurdle might be your pre-licensing course. Do some digging on your state’s real estate department website to figure out which classes are required for real estate professionals in your state.
Usually, the state will pre-approve certain courses or education providers. By choosing from the state-approved list, you take the guesswork out of finding courses to count toward your pre-license education hours.
If you want to make this process as convenient as possible for yourself, you’re probably wondering how to get your real estate license online. The good news is that many states have approved online avenues for the longest part of the process: the pre-license education.
To complete your hours digitally so you can do them at your convenience, check out these state-approved online real estate courses:
A broker can work for themselves as an independent agent and/or hire salespeople to work under them. As a real estate agent (i.e., salesperson), you’ll need to work under a broker.
Yes, you can usually have real estate licenses in multiple states. In fact, thanks to reciprocity laws, you might be able to count your pre-license education in one state towards your license requirements in another neighboring state.
What if you're licensed and are planning on moving to or doing business in another state? Can you live in one state and sell real estate in another?
If you're moving or will be doing real estate business across state lines, check out our comprehensive guide where we detail which states have real estate license reciprocity.