10 Steps to becoming a real estate agent

No matter which state you live in, you need to follow these basic steps to get your real estate license:

1. Understand your state’s requirements

The first step in learning how to become a real estate agent is to research your state's pre-license course requirements. Each state is different so it's important that you pay attention to which courses are required for your state.

2. Select a real estate school

Make sure you select an ARELLO-accredited real estate school that offers pre-licensing coursework specific to your state. You will also want to decide if an online school or a classroom is the best option for you. We’ve put together a list of five key questions to ask when choosing a real estate school that can help you make an informed decision. 

3. Complete your pre-licensing coursework

All states require some form of pre-licensing coursework before you can take the real estate licensing exam. The type and amount of coursework needed will vary from state to state. Determine how much your pre-licensing coursework will cost in case you need to save some money or get financing before you launch your real estate career.

4. Study for your real estate pre-licensing exam

Before you can take your state real estate exam, you’ll have to pass the pre-licensing exam at the end of your coursework. Many students choose online coursework, in which case this exam will be online, too. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of studying for an exam, even if you’ve been out of school for a while. These study hacks can help you maximize your time and set you up for success on test day. Once you pass, you'll need to obtain your official transcripts or a certificate of course completion. 

If you think you may need some extra guidance, consider a real estate exam prep program that will help you study state-specific material for your state real estate exam. Our Exam Prep Master program prepares you for the specific topics in your state’s license exam. Nearly everyone who completes the Exam Prep Master program passes their real estate licensing exam on the first try. However, if you don’t, we will refund your money.

5. Apply for and schedule your state real estate exam

Once you pass your real estate pre-licensing coursework, it's time to sign up for your state licensing exam. Usually, the application fee is about $25. Research when and where the next real estate exam will be in your state. These are most frequently administered by third-party testing centers. Make sure you get information about parking, hours and any materials you’ll need to bring with you on test day.

NOTE: Some states require that you get fingerprinted, complete a background check, or have Errors and Omissions Insurance on hand before you can take your state exam. Before you take your exam, ask the testing center what documents you’ll need to have on test day.

6. Select a broker

Depending on your state, you may be required to be sponsored by your broker in order to take the real estate exam. Choosing your broker may happen at this stage, or it may happen later, once you pass your test and are ready to start working. Selecting a broker to work for is one of the biggest steps of your real estate career. Your broker can influence how you get paid, how much you earn, your niche and what resources are available to help you advance in your career. Make sure you do your research on this step and find a broker who truly meshes with your goals.

7. Pass your state licensing exam

Taking and passing your state licensing exam is one of the most important steps on our checklist of how to become a real estate agent. Each state has different passing requirements for the licensing exam. To help ensure you pass your exam the first time, remember to consider taking a real estate exam prep course.

8. Join professional real estate organizations

Once you’ve passed the exam and earned your real estate license, you’ll want to become a member of your state and local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and perhaps the National Association of REALTORS®. These organizations provide valuable networking tools and professional resources. As a member, you’ll be able to attend national conferences and get access to valuable research that can help you stay updated on trends and best practices in your niche.

9. Complete necessary real estate post-licensing coursework

A handful of states require you to complete real estate post-licensing coursework within the first 6–12 months after you obtain your real estate license. Don’t let this slip from your radar.

10. Launch your real estate career

Once you have all your systems in place, let everyone know you’re in the real estate business. Soon you’ll start interacting with potential buyers and sellers, and you’ll be in business! Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for — your first transaction. Even if you feel confident it’s always a good idea to have a more experienced agent check your work to make sure you’re doing the very best for your clients. After it’s all done, sit down, give yourself a pat on the back and smile — you’re officially a real estate agent.

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What does it cost to become a real estate agent?

Your real estate agent start-up costs vary depending on your location, but here’s a good idea of the investment you’ll make to enjoy a successful career in real estate.

Licensing and Education:

Online pre-licensing education $100 - $900
First-year post-licensing education (not required in every state) $100 - $200
Testing fees, license feeds, background checks, and permits $100 - $500
Required continuing education $50 - $300

Start-up and first-year costs:

Nô lệ VIPNote: These items may be covered based on your brokerage agreement or may be tax-deductible.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) fees (this may be covered by your brokerage) $300 - $1,200
Professional association dues $200
Errors and Omissions Insurance $600
Conferences and professional development $800

Business and marketing expenses:

Nô lệ VIPNote: These items may be covered based on your brokerage agreement or may be tax-deductible.

Office supplies $300 - $700
Internet and cell phone service $100 - $400
Vehicle maintenance and gas $300 - $1,000
Website maintenance $25 - $80

Nô lệ VIPWant to find out the exact price of pre-licensing courses in your state? Click the button below.

How much time should I spend studying for the real estate license exam?

Nô lệ VIPTime is valuable, and we know you don’t have any of it to waste. Set yourself up for success by studying regularly throughout the entire course rather than waiting until the week before the exam. If you review and repeat the information, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of key course concepts.

Want to increase your chances of passing the real estate license exam? The Real Estate Exam Prep Master is a complete real estate test prep solution that's designed to help you pass your real estate exam on the first try.