How to Get a New York Real Estate License

Wondered how difficult it is to become a licensed real estate agent in the bustling state of New York? Of course you have, real estate is booming here! We hope this article will clear up any questions you may have about getting started.

According to New York law, a real estate salesperson cannot operate independently; they must work for a broker. A real estate salesperson is responsible for the sale, they gather lists of properties for sale and help clients find the right one. They also list and negotiates sales for clients in exchange for a commission. A New York license lasts for just two years before you have to renew it (bummer).

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself With The Prerequisites

Know The 101s.

There are some requirements that all New York real estate agents must meet before being able to operate in the state (yada-yada). These requirements are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Submit a completed application and the required fee to the Department of State
  • Have a high school diploma or hold a GED certificate
  • Complete a Department of State approved 75-hour salesperson qualifying education course
  • Be sponsored by a New York State licensed Real Estate Broker (more on this later)
  • Pass the NYS Real Estate Salesperson examination
  • Must be fingerprinted and cleared of all felony convictions 👮
  • Have a current NYS photo driver’s license or non-driver ID card and other photo ID Cards (in short bring all your ID cards )

classroom setting with studentsYou probably know this step where you have to be old enough, hold reasonable education, and ensure that your ID is up to date before submitting. So, no worries cause this is the easiest part.

If you have any criminal convictions, you must disclose them on your application. A conviction may or may not disqualify depending on the crime. However, failure to disclose a conviction, even for a minor offense, is grounds for immediate denial of your application. So just make sure to be honest and upfront, so you don’t waste your time.

Step 2: Register For The License and Complete the 75 Hours of Required Education

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideKnowledge is Light!

To obtain your license, you must complete a 75-hour pre-licensing course that is overseen by the Department of State.

The courses will teach you everything you need to know about New York real estate. The information will go over real estate laws and regulation, transaction requirements, and how to professionally conduct yourself around clients.

There are lots of options when deciding how you want to take your classes. There are in-person options, but many students prefer to take online courses so that they can study on the go or tune in when they have free time. The courses are designed for you to go at your own pace, but typically students finish them within 3-6 weeks depending on how much free time you have.

Step 3: Schedule and Take the New York Real Estate Salesperson Licensing Exam

man studying for licensing examThe name of the exam is a mouthful, but you’re smart.

To convince the New York board that you should obtain a New York Real Estate License, you must pass the New York Real Estate Exam with at least a 70 percent. Your  exams will be scheduled with the New York Department of State Occupational Licensing Management System.

The test is multiple-choice, and you have a time frame of ninety minutes to complete the exam. There are 75 total questions, and you must make score a 70% to pass. The exam is also provided in four additional languages: Spanish, Korean, Russian, and Chinese. If the test result is a passing score, it’s valid for two years. If the result is not a passing score, you can retake it.

Set aside $15 as well for the state’s exam fees.

Step 4: Apply for The New York Real Estate Salesperson License

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4475524After passing the New York Real Estate exam, you have to apply online and pay to obtain your license. This will cost you about $55, but the application and fees can all be entered online.

In this step, you will also have to submit your fingerprints and allow the state to run a background check. They are just searching to make sure all information you provided is accurate, and that you pass their standards to hold an active license.

Step 5: Find A Sponsoring Broker 🔍

pexels-rodnae-productions-8293694Pay attention, this part is really important.

To be able to practice real estate in New York, you need to work under a licensed broker. Real estate agents who also work under that broker can help you on your journey and monitor the standards set forth by the New York Government.

Some things to note about your brokerage: they can help you make important connections. They’ll often times have the tools and technology that will introduce you to your first clients and teach you the rules of the business. It is also possible to become a broker after working as an agent for two years.

BONUS: How To Get A Real Estate Sponsoring Broker in New York

signing contractIf you’re looking to become a real estate agent in New York,  having the right sponsor could make all the difference and could set you up for success on your journey. So how can you find a brokerage?

First off, ask questions and figure out what is most important to you. Do you want a digital brokerage? Or do you prefer the idea of a brick and mortar company?

You will also want to be familiar with the company’s comp plan. This usually starts with commission splits, but you’ll also want to factor in fees and the cost of marketing or business tools.

Don’t be afraid to google the brokerage and look at the reviews from both current and former agents. Check to see if there is a mass exodus of people leaving that brokerage for another one. That could be a big red flag that you want to hang your license somewhere else.

It’s also good to ask around your community to see what their reputation is. The better the company, the more likely you are to find potential clients that want to work with you.

sold signIf you’ve found a real estate broker with whom you have a good relationship and want to become an agent, then taking the next step is going to require some hard work. There’s much more to it, but it’s not rocket science; it’s just about being willing to put in the hours and doing what it takes.

So now it’s time, go break new ground in your field – literally and figuratively.

Chris Heller Headshot


*This article was updated on 1/3/2022

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.

New York Real Estate Licensing FAQs

The process depends on the person, because many of the courses are self-paced. Most people manage to complete the process in around four months

There are several costs and fees you need to pay to obtain a real estate license in New York:

  • The New York state exam fee is $15 
  • The real estate license application fee is $50
  • Online courses cost anywhere between $99 and $250, depending on the provider you choose. 

So, in total, the license would cost you anywhere between $165 to $315.

There are some things on the test your courses may not have prepared you for. There may be tricky questions that you are not sure how to answer. You may become lost and stressed out which will set the tone for the entire test taking session.

The best way to prepare for the real estate exam is to take a test prep class first.

The average real estate agent in New York makes $116,800. The top 90% can earn as much as $326,267.

shaking handsNYSDOS is basically the go to branch of government for real estate licensing. Even once you earn your license, you will have to become familiar with the department.

They are in charge of setting continuing education hours, issuing licenses, and overseeing disciplinary matters.

NYSDOS also looks into real estate schools and their curriculum across the state to ensure that the learning material is up to date and covers legal matters that are relevant in New York.

Fun fact: New York is a real estate hub, so the governing board has their hands full. There are approximately 30,000 licensed real estate agents in Manhattan alone, and over 50,000 agents in the wider NYC metro area.

There are no educational requirements for taking the real estate licensing exam other than the 75-hour real estate pre-licensing course. No college degree is required.

Yes, you can take the course online, but courses need to be approved by the NYS State Department and ARELLO. Both the NYS State Department and ARELLO have approved all of the courses reviewed by agents on this page.

women studying for licensing examThe exam is paper-based, with 75 multiple-choice questions split into two sections: the national real estate portion and state-specific portion. All questions are from the 75-hour pre-licensing course curriculum. 

You will have 1.5 hours to complete the exam.

You can take the exam in 5 languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Russian and Chinese. If you prefer taking the exam in a language other than English, you can notify an exam proctor when reporting to the test center

A New York real estate license is valid for a period of 2 years. The exact expiration date is written on every license, so you will know when it’s time to renew it. 

You can renew your license 3 months before its expiration date by applying online. Licenses are renewed online, as part of New York’s Green Initiative to reduce paper use.

To renew your license, you must follow the continuing education requirements (more below).

The 75-hour pre-licensing course is valid for 8 years, which is very generous compared to other states. You need to pass the licensing exam during those 8 years – if you don’t, you would need to retake the whole 75-hour course. 

Once you’ve passed, you have up to two years to submit an application.

To pass the final real estate licensing exam, you need a score of at least 70%. However, the exact score won’t be reported to you, just a pass or fail.

Around 59% of students pass the real estate licensing exam.

Every license has to be renewed within two years from the expiration date that is printed on it. You can renew your license 3 months before it expires, but only after completing 22.5 hours of education. Of those 22.5 hours: 

  • Three hours must be from the area of Fair Housing and/or Discrimination
  • One-hour has to be from the law of agency (except in the initial licensing term, you have to complete two hours of agency-related material)

To be eligible for a renewal, you still need to be under the supervision of a sponsoring broker. 

Even if you don’t have a sponsoring broker, you can take the licensing exam. However, you need to have one when applying for your real estate salesperson license. 

  • A government-issued identification document. Any of the following documents are accepted: 
    • personal ID
    • driver’s license
    • NYC Identification Card
    • Military ID
    • United States Passport
    • Employment Authorization Card
    • United States INS issued ID
    • Certificate of US citizenship
    • Foreign Passport
    • A Brazilian, Mexican, Honduran, or Ecuadorian Consular ID. 
  • Your “Summary of Your Submission” you received when scheduling your exam. It contains your exam information and your candidate number. 
  • A calculator that doesn’t have an alphabetic keyboard

shaking handsFinding a sponsoring broker is similar to applying for a job. You find the company you want to work for, in this case, the broker and apply to work for them and be under their supervision. lists many of the national brokers who are willing to take new agents under their wing and teach them about real estate and trading. 

The biggest difference between finding a sponsoring broker and applying for a job? You represent your own business as a 1099 contractor, rather than joining a company as a W-2 employee.

If you fail the exam, you need to re-apply on eAccessNY. You can retake the exam three times in 12 months, but if you fail all three attempts, you need to go through 30 hours of additional education.

After you pass the final exam, you need to submit a real estate license application. Along with this application, you are required to provide the following supporting documentation: 

  • Certification of Satisfactory Completion (generally this is completed by the school coordinator)
  • Examination notification 
  • License fee
  • Name of your New York State licensed real estate broker

Note that a passing score is valid only for a period of 2 years, so you need to submit a licensing application in that period of time, otherwise, you would have to retake and pass the exam once again to be able to get a license. 

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get an initial salesperson license online: 

  • After you log into your eAccessNY account, click on “Apply for Initial Salesperson License (qualifying by Exam only)” from the Main Menu.
  • Press “Next Step’ to continue.
  • Enter the required details and press “Next Step”
  • Enter your sponsoring broker’s license number (UID#) 
  • Find the broker license that matches the company’s name and address and press “Next Step” 
  • Enter the information that is required and press “Next Step” to continue.
  • Enter the name of the school along with the completion date of the pre-licensing course and press “Next Step” 
  • Check the “I Agree” box, then”Next Step” to continue.
  • Enter your payment information and press “submit”.
  • Print the “Summary of Your Submission” page that will be generated

Your sponsoring broker must log to their account to authorize your application. Once this is done, the Department of State will review your application to ensure it completes all requirements for a real estate salesperson license. After the Department o State approves your license, the will mail it to your business address.

The official government website for signing up, scheduling, and receiving the results of the real estate licensing exam in New York is called “Occupational Licensing Management System”, better known as eAccessNY. You can find it on the official New York government website. 

Once you’ve signed up to the official website, you need to find an eligible location where you will take the exam itself. New York state has proctoring locations in the following locations:

  • Albany
  • Allegany
  • Brooklyn
  • Buffalo
  • Cattaragaugus
  • Delmar
  • Dutchess
  • Fulton
  • Herkimer
  • Lewis
  • Liverpool
  • Madison
  • Manhattan
  • Marathon
  • Nassau
  • Orange County
  • Oswego
  • Queens
  • Rochester
  • Saratoga
  • Schoharie
  • Steuben
  • Suffolk
  • Sullivan County
  • Syracuse
  • Watertown
  • Westchester

It depends – do you have an active license in one of these states?

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Exact processes differ by state – so be sure to contact the Department of Licensing Services for more information if you have an active license in one of the above states.

There are many websites and sources online where you can get information about the requirements, the process and the licensing exam itself, but the most reliable source of information comes from the New York official government website.