Did you know that you don’t need a college degree to become a Realtor? Or that real estate is one of the highest-earning careers—with the highest tenth percentile netting more than $178,000 in annual wages?
Sure, you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate agent. But you’ll need to complete some form of pre-licensing education. Note that the licensure requirements vary widely by state.
Some states will require 180 credit hours for the pre-licensing coursework while others require less than 60 hours. Some allow for the real estate pre-licensing course to be completed 100% online while others require just a portion of the real estate education to be taken online. This post will explore the differences in real estate education requirements for licensing in the US.
Real Estate Education Eligibility Requirements
If you’re interested in pursuing a real estate licensing course, the first thing you’ll need to do is research your state’s requirements for eligibility.
There is no such thing as a universal or national real estate license. Each state has its own laws and regulations for real estate education and licensing. A good place to start your research is on your state’s real estate commission website.
Each state will have specific requirements for:
Minimum educational requirements
Application process and fees
Exams and exam eligibility
Licensing application process
However, most if not all states require candidates to hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent such as GED, and be at least 18 years old.
Additionally, some states, like Nevada, require candidates to submit at least two fingerprint cards processed by a law enforcement agency. Others, like Washington, require candidates to submit a criminal history questions form.
No matter where you live, you’ll have to take some form of pre-licensing education from an accredited institution. The required number of credit hours varies by state.
Texas has some of the most challenging pre-licensing requirements. You must take 180 hours of instruction before you can sit for the final licensing exam. Massachusetts, on the other hand, is the most “lenient”, requiring only 40 credit hours to sit for the salesperson licensing exam.
Here are some other state-specific pre-licensing course requirements.
New York 75 hours
California 135 hours
Illinois 75 hours
Alabama 60 hours
Virginia 60 hours
Wisconsin 72 hours
Iowa 60 hours
Colorado 168 hours
Minnesota 90 hours
Pennsylvania 75 hours
Florida 63 hours
Each state may have unique content for pre-licensing education but all courses are designed to help students pass both the national and the state-specific portion. In Texas, for example, the 180 hours of pre-licensing education are as follows:
60 hours Principles of Real Estate 1 and 2
30 hours Law of Contracts
30 hours Law of Agency
30 hours Real Estate Finance
30 hours Promulgated Contracts Forms
You’ll need to attend an accredited real estate school in Texas (there are many options to choose from) and meet all the requirements laid down by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC).
Most states offer more than one way to complete the pre-licensing education, including online classes, brick & mortar real estate schools (in-class learning), and classes at community colleges. The cost also varies depending on the state, school, and your preferred mode of learning.
Many real estate companies will recruit agents right after they complete getting their license.
Licensing Exam Process by State
Those who have completed their pre-licensing education become eligible to sit for the state licensing exam. The requirements, application process, and pass rates vary by state.
Exams are typically conducted in a computerized environment and each state has its laws regarding the examination processes and policies. For example, New York requires proctoring of the final exam at a location within the state of New York.
Most states use external testing providers to administer their real estate exams. The three key providers are:
After you’ve passed the licensing exam, you’ll need to submit the license application, test results, and application fee to your state’s real estate commission.
But before you get started with the application, it’s important to check with your state first. Your state could have additional licensing requirements that you are not aware of. For instance, some states, including Iowa, Mississippi, Kentucky, Colorado, Tennessee, Louisiana, Idaho, and Alaska require applicants to have Errors and Omission (E&O) Insurance before applying.
Other states that don’t ask for E&O Insurance might have other requirements, such as background checks. Once the application is approved, your state’s real estate commission will issue a real estate license between one week and two months.
In Texas, for instance, candidates receive their license from the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) within 5 to 10 business days. Your license can either be active or inactive. But if you want to practice real estate, you’ll have to apply for the active license.
Continuing Education For Real Estate License Requirements
Regulators require licensed real estate agents to take regular training called continuing education or “CE.” The purpose of continuing education is to enhance agents’ education and ensure their professional training is kept up to date.
Different states have different requirements for continuing education for agents. In Texas, for instance, real estate agents must take 24 hours of CE every 2 years. In Maryland, real estate agents and associate brokers are required to complete 15 hours of CE each renewal cycle.
Since states’ real estate authorities set the rules for CE, the only way to know what’s required of you is to check your state’s real estate commission website. You’ll also get to know other important information such as the renewal date, specific courses that must be part of your CE, as well as the renewal fee.
Some real estate teams have both licensed and unlicensed associates. Of course, unlicensed associates are not allowed by law to do many of the tasks a licensed agent can do.
Final Thoughts on Real Estate Education
As you can see, there are many real estate educational approaches depending on what state you are in. Depending on where you are located, you'll have to follow the required education requirements. Hopefully, you have found this guide on real estate licensing in each state to be useful.
About the author: The above article on real estate educational approaches was written by Erika Rykun. Erika is a content strategist and producer who believes the power of networking and quality writing. She’s an avid reader, writer, and runner.