How to Get a Wisconsin Real Estate License

woman studyingSo, you want to be a real estate agent, or you’re already one and you think Wisconsin could be your home of opportunities? Well, you’re right. Look around you. This is where the ice cream sundaes was created. It is the home of the Bucks 🏀, cranberries, wild rice, and ginseng. Look at the people from here who’ve made it – Chris Farley, Georgia O’Keeffe (the flower artist), Liberace, Mark Ruffalo. The next money maker to come out of Wisconsin could be you. As an agent, you can control your schedule and influence your income while helping people find their dream home. But first, you’ll need to earn a Wisconsin real estate license. So, this is where we will walk you through the steps of how you can earn your license ASAP.

Step 1: What Are The Requirements

This Is Where You Know If You Qualify

To qualify for a real estate salesperson’s license in Wisconsin, you need to meet these categories.

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • You must hold a high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Be lawfully eligible to work in the United States
  • Pass a background check that involves you submitting your fingerprints

Reciprocity 🤝

studying for licensing examIf you’re already a licensed real estate salesperson in another state and you’d like to expand to Wisconsin, the state permits full reciprocity with current  Licensees holding an active real estate broker license in Illinois or Indiana. They are exempt from the 72- hour pre-education requirement and may take the sales exam directly. If your Illinois or Indiana license has expired but was active within the past 2 years, the best thing is to apply to obtain a Wisconsin salesperson license by endorsement.  You still will have to pass the Wisconsin salesperson examination and apply to the DSPS.

You just need to confirm the following before you can apply for a reciprocal license:

  • You must pay the salesperson license fee 💸
  • You must provide a copy of your state ID showing proof of residency
  • You must provide a copy of your social security card, notarized verification of lawful presence,
  • Form 3166 (Application for Real Estate Salesperson license),
  • Form 813, (Irrevocable Consent by Nonresident Applicant for Service of Process [or non-resident of Wisconsin]).
  • Evidence that you hold an active salesperson license in good standing, obtained by examination in Illinois or Indiana.
  • reciprocal license fee.

To obtain a salesperson license by endorsement, you need to:

  • Complete the 13-hour Sales Course On Demand.
  • Complete 10 semester hour credits in real estate or real estate-related law courses from an accredited institution of higher education.
  • Pass the Wisconsin-specific salesperson exam.
  • Submit an application to the DSPS. The application should include Form 3166, Form 813, salesperson exam score, current license, Certificate of Course Completion, and a credentialing fee.

Getting your license might be a little confusing, and tough for newbies. It might cause some stress and that’s why we’re here to show you step by step what you need to do.

Step 2: Apply For a Background Check

small group of students studyingThis Is The Glorified Name For A Background Check in Wisconsin.

If you are applying for a license for the first time, you have to pass a background check. You have to apply in form #3085 to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to determine if you can get a license. The state of Wisconsin allows you to register for predetermination before you apply for the exam. If you don’t have a past criminal conviction, you can always rest easy with this application process.

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, it’s best that you apply for predetermination first.  This way the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) will determine if you are qualified to obtain a license or not before you spend money on the pre-licensing course.  

Step 3: Complete The 72 Hours Of Approved Wisconsin Pre-Licensing Education 

Happy woman studying and smilingClass Is In Session!

To understand the basics of real estate sales, practices, and laws in Wisconsin, all new applicants are required to take a 72-hour Pre-licensing course. This course is to be taken at an accredited university, college or center of learning. However, there are lots of choices to choose from and you can pick between in-person classes, online classes, or a combination of the two. At the end of this course, you’ll be issued a certificate of course completion. This certificate will also be used to register for your state and national exams.

Another way to get this is to complete 10 academic semester credit hours in real estate or real estate-related law from a university, college or any institution of higher learning.

Lastly, if you completed any real estate license course in another state in the past two years, you only have to complete the approved 13-hour pre-license education program for salespersons.

Step 4: Apply, Take And  Pass The Wisconsin Real Estate Licensing Exams 

Students studying in group settingThe next part of your journey is to apply, take and pass the Wisconsin real estate exams.

The exams have two parts. A national and state part. In total, it has 145-150 multiple-choice questions and you’ll be allocated a time limit of 240 minutes (4 hours). Students are typically unsure of the number of questions they must get correct because some questions carry more weight than others. To pass, you need to score at least 75%.

Immediately after you’re done, you’ll receive your score. You can take the exam several times if don’t pass a certain portion of the exam.

Try to arrive early at your location. If you come late, you might be refused your spot.  You should also bring along at least two (2) forms of personal photo ID. You are allowed to come to the exam location with a basic-function calculator.

Step 5:  Find 🔍 A Sponsoring Broker/Brokerage to work for

woman studying with coffeeWisconsin says no to freelance real estate agents.

The DSPS believes that freelancers might have no idea of the market, the rules and regulations, the little principles, guidelines and unwritten rules in the state. As a result, they need you to be affiliated with a real estate broker before you’re licensed. The broker must be current and active in the Wisconsin real estate market. They might have a brokerage firm or be a sole proprietor. They will introduce you to your first clients, help you sell your first properties, serve as your mentor and professional senior siblings as you navigate the market for the first time. They will authorize your real estate transactions. They will teach you business secrets. They will also be your employer. You will get commissions on each property you sell and there will be opportunities for growth in the firm. You can also become a broker after a few years of activity.

Step 6: Complete the application

Last step baby!

After you’ve gotten a sponsoring broker you can submit your Wisconsin real estate application to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services through your sponsor broker to be licensed as a Wisconsin salesperson in real estate (and complete your hero’s origin story).

You have to apply for licensure within a year of passing your salesperson licensing exam. While applying, you need to submit

  • Form 3166,
  • An Initial Credentialing Fee
  • Copy of certificate of completion of Salesperson’s 72-hour education program from a Board-approved school
  • Evidence of passing the salesperson exam
  • Proof of employment

It will take a waiting period of 5 to ten working days to know if your application has been approved.

We have no worries though. If you follow these steps, it’s a done deal.

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.

Wisconsin Real Estate Licensing FAQs

woman studying on computerWisconsin is one of the easiest states you can become a real estate agent. This is due to several licensing regulations and requirements: 

  • The prelicensing coursework is short – much shorter than other states. In Wisconsin, you only need 72 hours of education to become a real estate agent. That’s 66% less than some other states. 
  • You can retake the real estate licensing exam as many times as you need until you pass it.

counting moneyThe annual mean wage in Wisconsin is $64,210, which is higher than the national average of $60,086. The 90th percentile yearly wage is $105,640, which means that the 10% highest-paid real estate agents make more than $105,000 per year.  

Because of the combination of low entry barriers and high compensation, being a real estate agent in Wisconsin can be a successful and profitable career choice.