How to become a licensed real estate agent


  • License requirements vary by state. Most states require 60-120 hours of coursework, an in-person exam, and an application that includes the brokerage where the agent will work.
  • While coursework can be completed online, the exam is typically in-person.
  • It’s possible in some states to get licensed in 2-4 weeks under optimal conditions.
  • Getting licensed can be as cheap as $200 and exceed $1,500 if an agent requires more comprehensive support.
  • Becoming licensed does not make an agent a Realtor. Agents must apply for membership, take ethics courses, and pay associated fees to become a Realtor.
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How to become a licensed real estate agent

The process of getting licensed as a real estate agent varies by state. As a result, the best way to find out how to get licensed is to check with the licensing body of any state. At its fastest, the process of getting licensed can be 2-4 weeks but is typically longer. Most licensing processes involve the following steps:

  • Fulfill education requirement: Most states require 60-120 hours of education. Usually this amounts to 2-4 classes with a final exam for each. These classes must be taken at a school approved by the state. Often these classes can be taken in person or online. Sometimes the final exams need to occur in person or be proctored.
  • Pass the real estate exam: States typically have a required in-person exam that an agent must pass.
  • Join a brokerage: Typically, an agent must be part of a brokerage to receive their license. Many agents find a brokerage to sponsor them prior to starting the process of preparing for the exam.

Can an agent get their license online?

Usually the real estate exam must be taken in person, so getting a license entirely online is not usually possible. But most real estate courses can be taken online. In some state, the application to become an agent can also be submitted online.

How much does it cost to get a real estate license?

The two primary costs to get licensed are coursework fees and application/testing fees. Online courses are often cheaper and can be $150-300.  In-person classes and additional study materials can exceed $1,000. Exam and application fees are often $50-100. As a result, the total cost of getting licensed can range from $200 to over $1,500.

How does an agent become a Realtor?

Becoming a licensed real estate agent does not make someone a Realtor. They must apply with the National Association of Realtors, take additional ethics courses, and pay fees associated with the National and local Realtor associations.

Are there any ways around licensing requirements?

There are two notable exceptions to licensing requirements. Attorneys and people with real estate degrees from traditional colleges are often exempt. In some states, they may still have to take the state exam.

In addition, if an agent has a license in another state, they may be able to waive some or all education requirements and potentially the real estate exam. But not all states honor previous experience and education from other states.

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