How to Obtain a Real Estate License

By Hrishikesh Menon. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.


To pursue a career in real estate, a real estate license is required. Although it is not a lengthy process, it is rigorous with a few steps which this article will cover. There are many paths a person can take once they have their license, some of which will be included later on.

How Can I Get a Real Estate License?

The first step to the process is to research your state’s requirements to obtain a real estate license. There are no national requirements, meaning they differ according to the state, so if you are interested to get a real estate license in the state of your residence then you must either search up the requirements for your state on the corresponding state website or on the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)’s website. The next step is to take a pre-licensing course. Although the requirement to complete a pre-license course is nationwide, the required hours are not. The hours differ according to the state. For example, Pennsylvania requires 75 hours completed, Texas requires 180, and some New England states only require as low as 40 hours. Some topics which are included in the pre-licensing courses are Modern Real Estate Practice, Home Ownership, Fair Housing Laws, Contracts, Legal, etc. Pre-licensing courses cost around $350. 

After that, you must take the licensing exam. These exams are virtual and have two sections. One section tests the national real estate practices/laws and the other section tests the practices/laws specific to the corresponding state. The exam is multiple choice and each state has specific rules on how many retakes are allowed, how much the wait is between every attempt and deadlines for retakes. If you pass the licensing exam, you can activate your real estate agent license. For this, you must submit an application with any state-required documents and fees. You cannot begin working as an agent until the license is mailed to you. 

What Do I Do With a License?

Once you become an agent, many consider becoming a realtor. A realtor and a real estate agent are relatively similar. They both help with the buying and selling of real estate property but a realtor title is more prestigious. For an agent to become a realtor, they must apply to become a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Becoming a realtor comes with its perks such as advanced real estate market data and stats, educational programs, business tools, and most importantly, a good reputation in the real estate world. Most agents or realtors become brokers which is the same job as an agent or realtor but as a broker, you can choose to work alone or manage a real estate agency. The processes listed above are the most common real estate careers chosen by people with a license. Some other career paths people choose are Real estate appraiser (calculates the market value for the home which needs appraising), mortgage broker (facilitate the mortgage process for potential buyers), real estate attorney (practice real estate law and defend buying/selling client interests in property), etc.


In short, there are 4 steps to obtaining a real estate license: research state requirements, take pre-licensing courses, take the licensing exam, and activate your license. There are many real estate careers you can pursue with a real estate license with being an agent, a realtor, or a broker being the most common. If this article helped you understand the process of getting a real estate license and the possible opportunities presented with it, consider liking the post and leaving a comment!

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