How to Get a Colorado Real Estate License

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent5/14/2024
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Step 1: Take a Colorado Real Estate Course

In Colorado, you must take 168-hours of a pre-licensing course. Don't worry though, there are lots of options, including many that are online.

Step 2: Apply for Colorado Broker License

Yes, there’s a few annoying forms and pesky fees but the process is relatively painless because it’s all online through CREC. Within a few days you’ll get a letter of eligibility back.

Step 3: Submit Your Fingerprints

The state requires fingerprint transmission through a Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) approved provider: IdentoGo, Colorado Background Applicant Services (CABS), Fingerprint Card with Electronic Transfer.

Step 4: Pass the Exam

To pass the exam, you need to answer 60 questions correctly from the national portion in 120 minutes and 53 questions from the state portion in 110 minutes.

Step 5: Find a Broker

You have total freedom to choose your sponsoring broker. Here’s some things agents look at when choosing a brokerage: Commission Rate, Niche, and Company Culture.
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5 Steps to Get Your Colorado Real Estate License

Step-By-Step Guide to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent

Are you interested in becoming a real estate broker in the great state of Colorado? Of course you are, real estate is booming here! Well, hold on tight cause we’re gonna fire off the five steps you need to get your hands on a Colorado real estate license.

You ready? Let’s break it down, step by step.

Step 1: Take a Pre-Licensing Education Class

man studying for licensing examSchool’s Back in Session

You’re required to take a “pre-licensing” education class where you’ll study the principles of real estate, contracts, and finance. Not a fan of school? Well, these classes just might change how you feel about school. You have so many options! Some of them are even entirely online which has huge advantages!

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Online classes means you can do them at your own pace and work them in around your own schedule even if you have a full-time job. Also, the classes are only a total of 168 hours! That may seem like a big number, but to get started in a new career, that number is just a speck in time.

But what’s included in those 168 hours? Take a look at the curriculum and see for yourself:

  • CO 48-Hour Contracts and Regulations Course
  • CO 48-Hour Law and Practice Course
  • CO 24-Hour Closings Course
  • CO 8-Hour Current Legal Issues Course
  • CO 8-Hour Record Keeping and Trust Accounts Course
  • CO 32-Hour Practical Applications Course

“But what the heck’s a ‘Practical Applications Course’? That sounds scary and hard!” 

Don’t be scared off by the vocabulary. This is what the classes are designed for. They’ll defang any confusing topics by breaking them down. Still scared? Trust me, you can do this. The pass rates after taking these classes are sky-high, typically over a 95% pass rate and the support these classes offer is amazing. 

Students are always surprised how affordable these classes are. Take a look at the best real estate schools in Colorado. If you’re still looking for a way to save some dough, AgentAdvice offers a way to get yours for free. 

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Step 2: Apply for your Colorado Broker License

small group of students studyingApply Yourself!

You flew through the pre-licensing class and you’re building momentum! Well, now it’s time to apply for your license. Yes, there’s a few annoying forms and pesky fees but the process is relatively painless because it’s all online through CREC. Within a few days you’ll get a letter of eligibility back. This letter doesn’t mean you’re finished, but it does allow you to complete Step 4 and Step 5 ( submitting your fingerprints and taking the final exam). Once you get this letter the clock starts ticking and you have one year to pass that exam. Don’t panic, you’ve got this. With the pre-licensing course under your belt you’ll be well prepared.

Remember to keep that eligibility letter handy because it’ll have info on how to submit your fingerprints and schedule your exam.

Step 3: Submit your fingerprints

studying for licensing examOnce you get your eligibility letter you can submit your fingerprints. My fingerprints?  Yes, they need your fingerprints so that CREC can perform a background check. Remember it’s their job to make sure all agents in Colorado are on the up-and-up. The eligibility letter will give you detailed information on exactly how to submit but we’ll give you a little sneak peek so it’s not a surprise. 

Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) requires fingerprint transmission through a Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) approved provider. You have the following 3 options for choosing a provider.

Option 1: IdentoGo
IdentoGo centers are located across the state of Colorado and the US. You must schedule an appointment as walk-ins are not allowed.

Option 2: Colorado Background Applicant Services (CABS)
You may also get fingerprints from CABS. Additionally, walk-ins are not permitted and you must schedule an appointment through their website. Brokers must provide the following license code upon requesting an appointment. 0800REEI.

Option 3: Fingerprint Card with Electronic Transfer
If you are unable to locate a physical location near you or reside outside the state, you may use this option for submitting your fingerprints. If you select this method, be sure to use FBI fingerprint card FD-258.

Once your background check is processed, any discrepancies on your Colorado arrest record can be challenged and corrected by following the instructions located on CBI’s website.

Step 4: Pass the Colorado real estate licensing exam

Happy woman studying and smilingYou got this!

The step you’ve all been waiting for … passing the exam. Don’t freak out, you got this! Don’t know what you need to study? Your exam eligibility letter will have a Candidate Handbook which has study material that will help you prep for the exam. There’s also plenty of cram courses that will help you brush up right before the exam. Rest assured that you don’t have to pass this on the first try. Remember that you have a full year from when you get your exam eligibility to pass this exam. We think you’ll pass it on your first go because we know you, you’re motivated.

Step 5: Find a Managing Broker

women studying for licensing examNow a word from our sponsor

Finally, you’ll need to find a sponsoring broker. 🙋 Uhhh … should I know what a  ‘sponsoring broker’ is? Nope, we’ll tell you! So you’ve passed the exam but it doesn’t mean you’re ready just yet. When you first start out you’ll want an experienced organization to show you the ropes. Sponsoring brokers have been-there-done-that and they’re ready to show you how. Not only will they give you all the tools you need to start making sales but they’ll help you market yourself as an agent. 

You’ll get to choose a brokerage you like, that focuses on a niche you love, that has a company culture you love, and most importantly … has a good commission rate, so your paycheck is XL. Worried about finding a brokerage yourself? AgentAdvice helps with warm introductions to hiring brokerages if you sign-up for a class through us. Phew!

You have total freedom to choose your sponsoring broker. Here’s some things agents look at when choosing a brokerage:

  • Commission Rate
    • Look at each brokerage’s commission rate when you’re shopping around. If they’ve got a good rate, your commission checks will be larger than life. 💸
  • Niche
    • Maybe you want a brokerage that focuses on a niche on a location or a specific category of real estate like commercial retail, single family homes, or fixer-uppers. So if you have a specific interest you can find a broker who shares that interest.
  • Culture
    • Maybe the company’s culture is important to you. If so, get to know what they’re all about, how they work, and what’s important to them.

That’s all just to say that you have the freedom to choose a brokerage that fits you.


Mission Complete

sold signThose are the steps you need to get your Colorado real estate license. Yes, you might have to trudge through paperwork, check boxes, file forms, burn the midnight oil, chug coffee … but after all that … you’ll have your license. We recommend printing it out on super-gloss and framing it. Leave some room next to it for your first commission check; A LOT of room!  

That’s all folks! Once you make it through these steps you’ll have a brand new career ahead of you. If there’s anything we can do to help you make it through these steps please let us know. We’ve got pre-licensing classes, cram courses, and all sorts of resources to help.

CREC Criteria to qualify for real estate license

Hello criteria, pleasure to meet you!

Let’s answer the most obvious question straight out of the gate. “What the heck is CREC and why do I need to impress them?!” Well, CREC is short for the Colorado Real Estate Commission and it’s their job to make sure all brokers in Colorado are capable, qualified, and can lawfully work in the state. To do so, they have some basic criteria you must meet. Luckily, most of the requirements are pretty straightforward.

Let’s meet the criteria:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted alien.
  3. You must meet CREC’s integrity, trustworthiness, and honesty standards. 🙋 ( Yes, we’ll answer your questions about this one in a moment. )

The first two are pretty cut and dry but the last one, not so much. The good news is that most of our visitors/users don’t need to worry about it. The only time you’d need to be concerned is if you have any criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, disciplinary actions taken against a professional or occupational license, or have performed unlicensed real estate activity.


How much does it cost to get your Colorado real estate license? counting money

You can expect the following costs to become a real estate agent in Colorado: 

    • Prelicensing education costs can vary from $150 to $1,000 depending on the education provider you choose

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  • A Broker Application costs $485
  • The Broker Examination fee is $44.95
  • An exam retake would cost $42.50, regardless if you’re retaking one or both portions
  • Taking out a Broker license history would cost you $15
  • Continuing education Examination fee of $44.95
  • A Broker Renewal Fee is $387


How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Colorado?

New agent meeting with clients for the first timeThe time it takes from enrolling in a prelicensing course to receiving your Colorado real estate license mostly depends on how fast you finish the course and how many times you retake the exam. 

As the prelicensing education course is 168 hours, it can take three months to finish if you take 2 hours every day Monday to Friday. However, because some education providers allow you to take the classes online, you can shorten this time to 2 months, even less if you’re in a real rush. 

A fingerprint scan and background check will take two weeks at most. Once you register to take the exam, a period of 2 weeks may pass for the PSI center to process your registration. After they approve the registration, you can schedule an exam.

Your License Application will be processed in around ten days, after which you will receive a notification of it being activated. 


How much do real estate agents make in Colorado? money and calculator image

Colorado is among the highest-paying states for real estate agents, falling only behind New York, Massachusetts, and Alaska. The average real estate agent in Colorado makes $76,850 per year, with the highest paying 10% of agents earning $105,850 and more annually.

As expected, the highest paying metro area in Colorado is the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, with an annual mean wage of $82,450. The average annual pay in this metro area is quite higher than in other metro areas, but the most successful agents can earn a wage of $136,360 or more.

Colorado Real Estate License FAQs

women studying for licensing examColorado is stricter when it comes to real estate licenses than other states, but also pays higher than most of them. The prelicensing course lasts longer, and the exam has more questions than other states, but these are no reasons to be intimidated from the whole process. Quite the contrary. The comprehensive education will help you prepare for the exam easier and enter your real estate career with more knowledge, allowing you to focus on building a name for you and learn the more advanced aspects of the real estate industry.

Colorado has reciprocity with all US states as long as the applicant who wants to be licensed meets the same requirements and/or experience as real estate agents in Colorado. The licensing requirements can be met through one of the following ways:

a) The applicant has been actively licensed in another jurisdiction for at least two years. In this case: 

  • There are no educational requirements
  • The applicant should only pass the state portion of the exam
  • The applicant should provide fingerprint scans for a background check
  • Provide a License History from the licensing jurisdiction that is not older than 90 days of the date of application

b) The applicant has less than two years of experience in real estate, or their license has expired. In this case:

  • The applicant should complete the 168 hours of prelicensing education or provide a college or university diploma with a major in real estate
  • The applicant should pass both portions of the exam – the national and state portion
  • The applicant should provide fingerprint scans for a background check
  • If the applicant’s license is expired, they will be required to provide a License History from the licensing jurisdiction that is not older than 90 days of the date of application

US map

couple buys homeThe Colorado Division of Real Estate is the go to for all things licensing. DRE helps to navigate the landscape of real estate regulation through collaboration, transparency and equity.

They aspire to create a balance between consumer protection and promoting a fair and competitive business environment across the real estate space. DRE accomplishes this balance by “providing a collaborative approach to regulation that is open, simple and user-friendly.”

The Division is in charge of licensing, regulation and enforcement of licensed real estate professionals in Colorado. A predecessor to the DRE has regulated the assignment of real estate licenses since 1925.

shaking handsCurrently, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent level of education to become a real estate agent in Colorado. 

A college or university diploma is not required, but having a higher education diploma with a main in real estate, you will be exempt from the prelicensing education requirement. Licensed attorneys are also exempt from the prelicensing education requirements and only need to complete 12 hours of Trust Accounts and Closings & Recordkeeping classes.

Colorado’s Division of Real Estate has specific requirements of what the 168-hour prelicensing education course has to include, namely, the following:   

  • 48 hours, Real Estate Law & Practice
  • 48 hours, Colorado Contracts & Regulations
  • 8 hours, Trust Accounts & Recordkeeping
  • 8 hours, Current Legal Issues
  • 24 hours, Real Estate Closings
  • 32 hours, Practical Applications

man studying for licensing examThe real estate exam in Colorado has 154 questions in total: 80 questions in the national portion and 74 questions in the state portion, more than most other US states. To pass the exam, you need to answer 60 questions correctly from the national portion in 120 minutes and 53 questions from the state portion in 110 minutes. 

If you fail the exam, you can reschedule it the following day. If you fail one portion of the exam, you’re only required to reschedule that portion. There are no limits on how many times you can retake the exam, but the results are valid for one year after first passing the exam, so you would have to pass both portions within that time frame, or retake the whole exam once again.

Same as with all other states, the Colorado real estate license examination is split into a general (national) portion and local (state) portion. The national portion is the same in all states and contains the following areas:

  • Property ownership
  • Land use controls and regulations
  • Valuation and market analysis
  • Financing
  • General principles of agency
  • Property disclosures
  • Contracts
  • Leasing and property management
  • Transfer of Title
  • The practice of real estate
  • Real estate calculations

The state portion of the Colorado real estate licensing exam covers the following areas:

  • Duties and powers of the Real Estate Commission
  • Licensing requirements
  • Requirements governing the activities of licensees
  • Additional topics
  • Colorado forms and contracts
  • Record keeping and trust accounts
  • Closing and settlement
  • Brokerage relationships

The state keeps track and provides detailed real estate school summaries where you can check the first time pass and fail rates. In 2020 so far, the overall pass rate of all schools was 63.94%, with percentages varying from 0% to 100% across the board. More than half of the applicants pass the exam on their first try.

sold signYour license is issued for three years with an expiry date of 31 December, after which it needs to be renewed by providing proof of continuing education classes (except in the first licensing cycle). 

You can renew your real estate license 45 days before it expires and 31 days (grace period) after it expires. If your license is not renewed 31 days after its expiration date, you have three years to reinstate it. If you fail to do so, you have to restart the whole application process all over again. 

Licensees can renew their licenses by providing proof of completed 24 hours of continuing education for each license cycle of 3 years. There are no continuing education requirements for the initial licensing cycle. 

These 24 hours of continuing education have to include: 

  • 12 of the 24 hours must consist of 3 different versions of the 4-hour Annual Commission Update Course.
  • The other 12 hours can be any combination of elective credit hours approved by the Commission.

After finishing the continuing education, you will have to take the state portion of the exam to prove your knowledge.

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideYou will be asked to provide two forms of identification to enter the exam. One of these forms has to be a valid, non-expired, and government-issued form of identification such as a Driver’s License, a State ID, or Passport. The second form of ID should contain your signature and your legal name, the same name you’ve entered in the Exam Registration form. 

Besides two forms of ID, you will be asked to complete an affidavit before entering the exam.

If you’ve previously been convicted of any felony, misdemeanor, theft-related petty offense, or have a pending charge for any of these, you can apply for a preliminary advisory opinion before taking any education classes. 

Colorado’s Real Estate Commission will take into consideration all real estate applications. Based on the type of felony, how much time has passed, and the circumstances surrounding the offense, they will decide whether or not they will approve a License Application.

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About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 5/14/2024