Illinois Real Estate License Guide

Quick Facts

illinois licensing logo

Illinois Real Estate Governing Body:

Division of Real Estate (DRE)

PreLicensing Requirements:

90 Hours

СЕ Requirements:

75 Hours

Read more below

How to Get a Illinois Real Estate License

Being a real estate agent in Illinois is lucrative but for you to operate as a real estate agent lawfully, you need to obtain a real estate license. 

Do you wish to know the processes involved in getting an Illinois real estate license in Illinois? If your answer to that question is yes, then you should read on. Here is a detailed guide on everything you need to know about getting an Illinois real estate license. 

Before you start the application process for a real estate license in Illinois, you need to make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements. These are the eligibility requirements you need to meet: 

  • Ensure You Are a United States Citizen

Only United States citizens are eligible to obtain a real estate license in Illinois. If you are not a citizen of the US and you desire to pursue a profession in real estate, you have to first get your citizenship before you would be considered to take the real estate license examination. 

  • Have a high school education or General Educational Development (GED)

If you don’t have either a high school education or its equivalent, which is GED, you will not be eligible to begin the application for a real estate license in Illinois. So, if you are aspiring to be a licensed real estate agent someday, put in efforts to finish your high school education. 

  • You Must Be at Least 18 Years Old

Wooden,Classroom,Interior,With,Empty,Chalkboard,,Furniture,And,Daylight.,EducationDon’t let anyone fool you into getting a real estate license if you are not yet 18 years old. To acquire your real estate license in Illinois, you must be 18 years old, and you must have attended at least four semesters of post-secondary education, which includes courses in real estate.

You cannot start the application process of obtaining an Illinois real estate license if you don’t have all of the above requirements. But if you meet all of them, you are free to begin the process of acquiring a real estate license in Illinois. These are the necessary things you need to do: 

  1. Finish the 75-Hours of Approved  Pre-Licensing Education

Real,Estate,Written,On,Notepad,With,Calculator,And,Pen,OnIt is compulsory that you complete the seventy-five hour Pre-Licensing course with the sixty hours of Pre-Licensing education that you can be taken via online distance education and also the fifteen hours mandatory courses that must be taken interactively in a classroom, by webinar, or via online distance education. The beautiful thing about this Pre-Licensing education is that you can do it online. So, if you have a full-time job that doesn’t permit you to go for physical classes, you can attend the flexible online classes that your preferred real estate school provides. Ensure you only take classes from a real estate school that’s approved by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (DFPR). 

2. Take and Pass the Illinois Real Estate License Exams

It’s not enough to finish the course materials; you need to pass the minute time requirement, the practice examination, and also, the course final examination. You must be aware that you must score at least seventy-five percent to pass the exam. If you don’t get up to seventy-five percent, you will need to sit for the exams again until you pass them.

It’s important to make studying for these exams a point, so you don’t have to keep paying money to retake them. You should enroll in a real estate school that will teach you all you need to know to pass the exams on the first try.

Once you pass the exam, you will be required to submit your licensing application to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). And you are meant to do that via a sponsoring or managing broker.

3. Select a Sponsoring or Managing Broker

In Illinois, you cannot be given a real estate license if you are not associated with a well-known and active sponsoring broker. Selecting the right sponsoring broker for you is something you should carefully do because whoever you choose will be a mentor to you when you begin your real estate career. Don’t be in too big of a hurry to choose a sponsoring broker, and before you choose one, look out for the following:

4. Check if there are possibilities for you to grow within that brokerage. If there are no structures in place that will ensure that you grow, you shouldn’t choose that sponsoring broker. 

    1. Ask if they give their real estate agents marketing materials and leads. You need a sponsoring broker that will provide you with the right resources that will aid your growth in the real estate industry.
    2. Inquire to see if your intending sponsoring broker will provide you with benefits.  You should only be associated with a sponsoring broker that has tons of benefits to offer you–it’s important. 
    3. Find out how their commission structure is built. A good sponsoring broker should have a commission structure that benefits everyone. 
    4. Find out if they support their real estate agents with training and educational opportunities. You need these training sessions to stay updated and relevant in the real estate industry. 
    5. Find out if they are passionate about staying up-to-date with technological systems. You should not be associated with a sponsoring broker that is not open to better ways of getting things done. 
    6. Find out the type of real estate agent that the sponsoring broker is searching for. Then, check if you fit into what the broker is looking for. 
    7. Do thorough research on their local and national reputation. Get reviews from people that have used them in the past or are currently using them. If their reputation is not satisfactory, then you shouldn’t be associated with them.

Finish Your Application

You can only apply for your real broker license through the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, so submit your application. Once that is done, the state will then run a background check and ask for your fingerprints. This is just for government purposes, and your prints will be on file. 


If you can follow all the steps we provided you, getting your real estate in Illinois will be stress-free. 

Remember to make passing your real estate license examination a top priority. Also, after getting your real estate license, you should ensure you renew it on time and stay up to date on your required continued education, so you don’t have any run ins with the law.

Chris Heller Headshot


*This article was updated on 11/15/2021

This information was reviewed and approved by Chris Heller. 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.

Compare Illinois Real Estate Schools

aa-trophy-smallWant to see the full, in depth editor reviews for each school? Check out our 100% free guide to the best real estate schools in Illinois (includes the latest 2021 pricing, reviews, pass rates, and more).


Here’s the quick take:

School Reviews Editor's Score Pricing
The CE Shop
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based on 85 reviews

A+ -
Real Estate School Illinois_logo
Real Estate School of Illinois
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  • full star
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based on 5 reviews

C -
kaplan logo
Kaplan Real Estate Education
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based on 39 reviews

B- -
Real Estate Express
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  • full star
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  • full star

based on 85 reviews

B -

Illinois Real Estate Licensing FAQs

Getting a real estate license takes a lot less time than it does in other states, but as in any other state, it takes dedication and attention. There are certain eligibility and qualification requirements, such as the 90-hour pre-licensing course, age requirements, and education requirements. These are all in place to help you prepare for the exam better and pass it easier.  Read on for more information. 

money and calculator imageAccording to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage is $42,130. However, there is no need to be discouraged by this fact. Working hard in real estate and sealing deals can bring a lucrative income several times higher than the annual wage. In other words, high producers can make a lot more.  For instance, the annual 90th percentile wage in Illinois gets up to $80,900.  

illinois licensing logoThe mission of the Division of Real Estate is to act as a safeguard for licensees across the state of Illinois. They keep an eye on qualifications and standards for licensed real estate agents. They are the one stop shop for regulation of licensees, making sure agents are properly evaluated, and that rules are enforced to protect agents and the public.

DRE “strives to provide efficient service through effective communication and transparency in operations, while maintaining a commitment to excellence with both consumers and the industry.”

Higher education is not required to be eligible to take the real estate exam. However, you need a high school education or GED at a minimum. 

counting moneyThe overall cost depends on the pre-licensing course you choose, as this takes up the biggest portion of the costs. A lot of companies offer different packages, so make sure you analyze your options and choose the one most fit for your needs.  Illinois agents have rated and reviewed the best real estate schools here on, in order to make this easy for you.

As for the other costs, you can plan the following ones: 

  • Exam fee of $55
  • License application fee of $125

There will surely be other expenses as well, so when you’re planning the overall cost of your real estate license, make sure you plan for membership fees, operating expenses, and other potential costs that may arise. 

In total, it costs around $1,000 to get your real estate license in Illinois.

The real estate licensing course lasts for 90-hours and should be administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. It covers topics from the following areas: 

  • 75 hours covering the following topics: 
    • License Law
    • Real Property
    • Structure of Agency
    • Seller Relationships and Counseling
    • Buyer Relationships and Counseling
    • Illinois Law
    • Federal Laws
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Real Estate Transactions
    • Financing
    • Contract Knowledge
    • Independent Contractor/Employee Agreements
    • Property Management
  • 15 hours covering applied real estate principles that cover:
    • Listing Preparation
    • Buyer Representation
    • Agency Types
    • Presenting and Negotiating Offers
    • How to Deal With Multiple Offers
    • How to Manage Assistants
    • How to Perform CMS and Pricing
    • How to Minimize Risk
    • How to Handle Escrow Accounts
    • How to Handle Distressed Properties
    • Anti-trust Topics
    • Inspection Repairs

To pass the real estate licensing exam, you need to answer 75% of the questions from both portions correctly. The results of the exam will be given to you immediately after completion. 

man studying for licensing examThe time it takes to become a real estate agent in Illinois depends on the individual. It usually takes people 2 to 6 months to complete everything. If you finish the licensing coursework faster and manage to pass everything on the first try, it will take about two months. However, if you take the course at a slower pace, and fail the exam one or multiple times, it will take longer for you to be licensed as a real estate agent.  That said, if you’re in a hurry, you should probably go with a self-paced class rather than an in-person course that is bound to a specific deadline.

Remember that you have two years to register to take the real estate licensing exam once you pass the real estate licensing exam. 

One of the major advantages Illinois offers that other states don’t is the ability to work under a managing broker for 45 days while your license is being processed. This way, you won’t lose any time building your real estate career and will be able to work as soon as you pass the exam. 

You should bring two valid forms of ID. At least one of these two IDs needs to be government-issued with your photo ID, name, and signature. It could be a state ID card, a driver’s license, a passport, or a military ID. 

While it won’t necessarily disqualify you from obtaining a license, having a criminal record may make it harder for you to get a real estate license. 

When you apply for a real estate license, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will go through any conviction you may have in Illinois or any other state. They will not, however, consider the following: 

  • Juvenile arrests and adjudications,
  • Charges that were dismissed (except those related to real estate)
  • Arrests that were not followed by a charge
  • Convictions that have been overturned, or
  • Convictions or arrests that have been sealed or expunged.

You can also apply for a real estate license a certain period after your conviction. When you submit your application, make sure you disclose information about any convictions and charges along with any changes, paroles, and dismissals. 

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideTo pass the real estate licensing exam in Illinois, you need to pass both the national and state-specific portion with at least 75% correct answers. 

If you fail the real estate license exam in Illinois on your first try, you can retake it three more times. If you fail these three additional attempts, you will have to restart the process all over again. This means retaking the full, 90-hour pre-licensing course and reapplying for the licensing exam. 

If you fail only one portion of the exam, you can retake only the one you failed. 

To maximize your chances of passing the licensing exam on your first try, you need to prepare well and study hard. A prep course is always helpful and will give you a hand in passing the exam and getting a higher passing score as well. 

The Illinois real estate license exam will help you get familiar with the basic fundamentals of real estate and prepare you to enter the real estate market in Illinois. There are 140 questions in total, 100 from the national portion, and 40 questions of Illinois-specific real estate areas. 

To be more specific, the real estate license exam in Illinois covers the following areas of the national portion: 

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts 
  • Real Property Ownership/Interest 
  • Finance 
  • Real Property 
  • Marketing Regulations 
  • Property Management 
  • Real Estate Calculations

State-specific questions:

  • Licensing Requirements
  • Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
  • Disclosures

You have three and a half hours to complete the exam and answer 75% of each portion correctly. 

Only around 45% of students pass the real estate exam on the first try. This goes to show that it is something you should take seriously and dedicate time to learn and understand. 

However, this percentage shouldn’t discourage you! If you prepare well, pay attention during the pre-licensing course, and study hard, passing the exam won’t be a challenge.  

Taking a prep course before applying to take the licensing exam has proven to be beneficial for students. It not only helps you prepare better and manage your time more efficiently, but it also gives you insights from people who have already taken the exam.

Currently, Illinois has reciprocity with eight other states: Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, and Wisconsin. If you already obtained your real estate license in any of these states, it will also be valid in Illinois and vice versa.

US map

Being a real estate broker in Illinois means taking on more responsibility. A real estate agent is someone who has passed the licensing exam and obtained a real estate license. A broker, on the other hand, is an agent that has worked in the industry for several years and has obtained additional licensing.

The main difference between the two is their responsibilities. Brokers manage agents and can own real estate companies, while agents cannot.

Finding a sponsoring broker in Illinois is not as difficult because most brokerages are qualified to supervise real estate agents. However, picking just any random brokerage won’t do. You should make sure that the sponsoring broker you’re choosing is experienced, reliable, and has shown a pattern of preparing successful real estate agents.

Try to view the process as job recruitment, but with you being on the hiring side. Ask the broker questions to find out what they think, what their experience is, and see if they are passionate about their work and will dedicate enough time to you. 

Every state has a mandatory national portion included in their real estate licensing exam. It’s designed and implemented so that real estate agents are familiar with the basic fundamentals and principles of the US real estate market. In fact, the national part is the largest portion of the exam in every state. This includes:

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts 
  • Real Property Ownership/Interest 
  • Finance 
  • Real Property 
  • Marketing Regulations 
  • Property Management 
  • Real Estate Calculations

The state-specific portion, on the other hand, covers real estate facts and principles relevant to the state of Illinois, such as:

  • Licensing Requirements
  • Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
  • Disclosures

No. Offering, attempting to, or practicing real estate actions without holding a valid real estate license as a broker, managing broker, or residential leasing agent is not allowed. Anyone who does this will have to pay a penalty to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in addition to any other penalty required by civil law. 

An employing broker in Illinois is a licensed broker under which an agent/salesperson practices real estate. As an agent, you will act on behalf of an employing broker and receive commissions only through them. 

money and calculator imageBesides two forms of ID (which are mandatory), you can bring a non-programmable calculator that doesn’t have an alphabetic keyboard or programming features. You can also bring your wallet and your key, but other than that, you cannot bring anything else. This includes your phone and your watch. 

You are not allowed to have anything in your pockets either and will be asked to turn them outwards to ensure that they are empty.

Any violation of these rules and possessions of items outside what is allowed may result in your disqualification from the exam.