Real Estate License Guide

How to get a Real Estate License

Every state has different requirements  you must meet to get your real estate license.  Be sure to check your state’s licensing requirements below, as details vary by state.  In general, most states require the following:

  • Successfully complete a pre-license course
  • Be at least 18 or 19 years old (state regulations vary) with residency in the US
  • Graduated from high school or obtained a GED
  • Passed a criminal background check
  • Successfully passed both the State and National portions of the Salesperson Real Estate Exam

Click the button below to see the full details for your state.

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Real Estate License FAQs

woman studying on computerReal estate is one of the best investments a person can make. Properties almost always go up in value and people that get in on the ground floor can make considerable profits over time.

You can cash in on real estate by becoming an investor, but another great option is to become a realtor. Realtor careers offer flexibility and the chance to build considerable wealth. It is also a position almost anyone can qualify for. However, there are some steps you must take to become licensed.

Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent

Realtor, real estate agent. Most people use these phrases interchangeably. But there is a difference. Let’s review both positions.

Real Estate Agent: Anyone who holds a real estate license is considered to be a real estate agent.

To obtain a license, you must take a set number of classes to complete a course. You must then pass an exam that tests you on national, state and local real estate practices, standards and laws. You also need to complete about 180 hours of pre-licensing coursework (the number of hours will vary by state).

Once these requirements are met, you will need to pay a licensing fee to get your license. The license must be renewed every 1-2 years and you must show proof of continuing education courses when renewing.

real estate agent taking call from a clientRealtor: A realtor is basically a real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of Realtors. Joining the organization will benefit agents as it has strong bargaining power with state and federal governments. It offers members better legal protection and other advantages.

Because the NAR has an excellent reputation, agents that join will look more impressive to clients and have a leg up on non-realtor competitors when it comes to growing their business.

How Do I Become a Realtor?

If becoming a realtor sounds good to you, here’s what you will need to do to join.

Eligibility: To be eligible to join you must qualify as follows:

  • You will need a valid real estate license.
  • You will need to show that you are actively engaged in real estate.
  • You will need to prove that you have a clean record with no official sanctions showing unprofessional conduct.
  • Your credit record must be clear of recent and pending bankruptcies.
  • If you are part of a real estate firm, your principal must be a member. If your principal is not a member, neither you, nor any other employees, can join.

If you meet these requirements, go to the NAR membership page and follow the steps to apply. If your application is approved, you will need to pay an annual membership fee of $120 as well as some prorated dues.

Real estate agents do not need to become realtors to be successful, but becoming a member has several perks. In addition to legal protection and an impressive looking resume, it provides informative newsletters to members as well as networking opportunities. Will you be taking this step to boost your career?

Perspective from a real estate pro:

David Zeff HeadshotDavid Zeff
Realtor in Gaithersburg, Maryland
RE/MAX Realty Group

“I think that some of the things that helped me to pass the exam on the first try were to take my real estate courses online. By taking the course online, it allowed me to do the course at my own pace to ensure I was able to absorb the information easier and also revisit certain topics as needed.

Another key was to purchase a couple of practice test books. My local board of REALTORS as well as sites like Amazon have practice test books specific to my state which allows me to practice the tests, get familiar with some of the test content, and get familiar with the test format.

One other key factor was that I had a mentor when getting into the business. Having a mentor was critical because he was present in case I needed help with my coursework and since he had many years of experience, he helped me to dissect the questions on the practice test allowing me to better prepare for the exam.”

Real estate is all about the hustle! The more hours you put in, the more money you make. The more clients you have, the more money you make. There are a lot of different factors that can determine an agent’s annual income, including the number of licensed realtors in your area. Check out the average income for agents in your state:

chart (1)

StateAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Alabama$25.48$52,990
Alaska$36.47$75,860
Arizona$26.72$55,580
Arkansas$23.12$48,660
California$36.90$76,750
Colorado$39.05$81,210
Connecticut$37.76$78,540
Delaware$23.79$49,490
District of Columbia$30.97$64,420
Florida$29.39$61,120
Georgia$33.24$69,150
Hawaii$35.97$74,820
Idaho$26.90$55,790
Illinois$21.56$44,840
Indiana$22.79$47,410
Iowa$26.38$54,880
Kansas$27.64$57,500
Kentucky$25.50$53,030
Louisiana$24.41$50,760
Maine$31.34$65,180
Maryland$26.08$54,250
Minnesota$45.28$94,170
Michigan$30.05$62,500
Minnesota$22.48$46,760
Mississippi$24.61$51,110
Missouri$29.00$60,330
Montana$22.50$46,010
Nebraska$25.31$52,650
Nevada$31.34$65,180
New Hampshire$25.22$52,450
New Jersey$33.49$69,660
New Mexico$28.30$58,870
New York$49.13$102,200
North Carolina$25.38$52,800
North Dakota$31.86$66,270
Ohio$23.62$49,120
Oklahoma$31.93$66,400
Oregon$26.34$54,790
Pennsylvania$27.61$57,420
Puerto Rico$27.40$57,000
Rhode Island$32.22$67,020
South Carolina$21.90$45,550
South Dakota$27.51$57,110
Tennessee$23.48$48,840
Texas$30.66$63,780
Utah$34.75$72,280
Vermont$28.74$59,780
Virgin Islands$15.76$32,770
Virginia$32.20$66,980
Washington$33.51$69,700
West Virginia$31.87$66,280
Wisconsin$23.07$47,990
Wyoming$31.34$65,190

neighborhood with house for saleHow much time it will take you to acquire a real estate license in the USA depends on yourself and your state’s education requirements. The sooner you pass the pre-licensing coursework, do the background check, and pass the licensing examination, the sooner you’ll be selling homes!

Depending on the state, pre-licensing courses can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to complete if you’re dedicated to the courses full time. Scheduling and passing the exam can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. So, all in all, the entire process from starting the course to obtaining your license can take from 3 weeks to 12 weeks to complete.  If you’ve identified which state you want to get licensed in, feel free to select it from the menu above to get more specific guidance. 

StateRequired hours# of coursesAllow online?Price ranges
Alabama601Yes$205-$349+
Alaska401Yes$375-$449+
Arizona962No$399-$559+
Arkansas601Yes$230-$450+
California1353Yes$99-$375+
Colorado1681Yes$279-$599+
Connecticut601No$175-$495+
Deleware991No$550+
DC601No$192-$402+
Florida631Yes$69-$495+
Georgia751Yes$125-$449+
Hawaii601Yes$251-$501+
Idaho901No$649+
Illinois752Yes$230-$399
Indiana901Yes$352-$700+
Iowa601Yes$251-$475+
Kansas602Yes$136-$248+
Kentucky96