How to Become a Real Estate Agent | The 5 Steps

Your Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Agent

by The CE Shop Team

Education, Licensing, and Your New Career 

While there are many paths to success in real estate, the reasons why prospective agents embark on this journey are largely the same. Some do it to help others find their dream home, others do it for the flexibility that a real estate career affords, and some just want to be their own boss. Whatever your reasons, there are a few steps every real estate agent must take before building their real estate empire. 

Check Your State’s Real Estate License Requirements

The first step in any real estate journey is to check your state’s local real estate licensing prerequisites and Pre-Licensing requirements. Like registering a vehicle or purchasing a fishing license, real estate licensing laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years of age 
  • Have a high school diploma or GED 
  • Be a legal resident of the United States
  • Be able to pass a background check

Choose a Real Estate Education School 

Once you’ve confirmed that you meet your state’s requirements, the next step — not to mention one of the most important — is choosing a real estate school that fits your needs. Some real estate hopefuls opt for traditional real estate schools, but in the technologically advanced fast-paced world in which we live, The CE Shop’s sophisticated online courses are the best way to execute your real estate course requirements, both now and when your license renewals come due. 

By choosing to take courses online, there’s no need to sit in traffic, find a babysitter, or lug outdated books around to get started on your real estate career. However, the real benefit to choosing The CE Shop is the quality of the education — which will directly affect your performance as an agent. Our platform, as well as our extensive library of free ebooks, how-tos, current blogs, and videos, helps students retain more information, not just for the sake of the exam, but also when a client needs life-changing advice. After all, our success depends on yours, so we have resources to assist you with every phase of your real estate career. 

Enroll in and Complete Your States Pre-Licensing Coursework 

Every state requires Pre-Licensing education, or courses that you’re required to take and pass before you can take your licensing exam. Some states even require coursework after your license is first issued, and others require agents to find a mentor — it all just depends on your particular state’s laws. 

Education hour requirements and coursework also vary from state to state. For instance, the state of Texas requires 180 hours of Pre-Licensing education whereas the state of Massachusetts only requires that students complete 40 hours of Pre-Licensing education. 

Take and Pass the Real Estate Pre-Licensing Exam 

The business of real estate comes with real responsibilities, which is why you’re required by law to take and pass several exams in your pursuit of licensure. First, you’ll need to pass your course exams at the end of each Pre-Licensing course. Once that has been completed, it’s time to pass your Pre-Licensing final exam. The test can range from 100-150 multiple choice questions, and more often than not, requires at least a 70% score to pass. Students who pass all of their exams will be issued some proof of completion that will be required to apply for their real estate agent license. 

Study for the State Real Estate Exam 

For some, test taking feels perfectly natural. For others, it can seem like they’ve been tasked with pushing a bulldozer. Regardless, there are ways to give yourself the best chance of passing. Our blog, “Easy-to-Follow Study Tips for Acing Your Exam” provides in depth information and several simple tips to improve your chances of success, including: 

  • Write new information down
  • Read your state’s candidate handbook
  • Use relaxation techniques
  • Use mnemonics (e.g., acronyms)
  • Follow a study schedule
  • Take breaks and exercise
  • Practice, practice, practice

You’ve probably heard your high school coach (or your children’s high school coach) say that practice makes perfect. That’s true, at least in this case, but not everyone knows how to practice. Luckily, our Exam Prep Edge is a game-changing study tool. Exam Prep Edge takes everything you need to know and tees it up so all you have to do is focus on your swing. Plus, with our unlimited simulated practice exams, you can keep studying until you’re ready for the big time.

Take and Pass Your State’s Real Estate Exam 

Not surprisingly, the actual real estate license exams differ from state to state, but generally speaking, students taking state exams can expect to answer anywhere from 120-150 multiple-choice questions. 

The real estate licensing exam is issued by a third party on behalf of the state, usually PSI or Pearson VUE, and it covers topics and subject matter that students have learned through their Pre-Licensing coursework. 

Accommodations can be made for those with disabilities; just check with your local regulatory body or real estate commission. In most cases, students are required to score at least 70%-75% to pass. With a 91% national pass rate, however, our sophisticated online platform gives students of all learning styles and abilities a clear advantage on test day. 

Lastly, don’t be discouraged if you fail the exam the first time around. Most states allow for you to retake the exam as many times as you need — you’ll just have to pay the exam fees and make sure it’s within a year of completing your Pre-Licensing education. Be sure to double check your state’s retake requirements and guidelines for more information.

Complete Your Post-Licensing Real Estate Education Courses 

Some but not all states require Post-Licensing education, which is usually a one-time education requirement that is mandated by the state not long after a real estate license is issued. Post-Licensing differs from Continuing Education requirements, the latter of which recurs on a regular basis for all agents, regardless of where they live, during the license renewal process. If you plan on building your real estate business in any of the following states, you’ll need to complete Post-Licensing coursework:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Delaware 
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Choose a Real Estate Brokerage 

After you’ve been issued your real estate license, the next step is to find a Broker. Now, the terms “real estate agent” and “real estate Broker” are often used interchangeably, but the truth is they mean different things. Real estate agents or real estate Salespersons as they're sometimes called, are licensed to conduct real estate transactions on behalf of a Broker or brokerage firm. Real estate Brokers can operate independently under their Broker License.

As a result, agents working for a Broker or brokerage share a percentage of their commission with the brokerage. In return, brokerage firms support their agents in terms of marketing, benefits, mentorship, generating leads, and legal protections. 

Of course, each brokerage is different. Some brokerage firms like RE/MAX allow agents to keep 99% of their commission but offer little to no support while Keller Williams offers much more support but requires a larger percentage of the commission. 

Boutique firms usually fall somewhere in between and specialize in different types of properties, different buyers, etc. — so whatever your preferred flavor, you’re bound to find a brokerage firm that fits you. 

Get Active! Join Real Estate Groups, Find a Mentor, and Surround Yourself With Smart People

Regardless of whether or not your state requires a mentorship program, it’s a good idea to connect with someone established in the field. When shopping for a brokerage, be sure to ask about mentoring opportunities because, as the saying goes, experience is the best teacher. If your first choice brokerage doesn’t offer one, consider connecting with someone through the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) — just make sure it’s a good fit for both of you.

The first few years of building a real estate career present interesting challenges, and with the help of a mentor, you can learn the ropes sooner, connect with others in the real estate industry more quickly, build your real estate database, and establish the habits you need to succeed. Then, as you become an experienced agent, you can pay it forward.  

Pro Tip:

As you begin your real estate career, find leads by tapping into your sphere of influence. Make a few announcements on social media that you’re starting a career in real estate. Oftentimes, friends and family are an agent’s first clients. 

Begin Your Real Estate Career! 

When it’s time to begin your new career, it can be both terrifying and exciting. The good news is, we have your back. Not only do we offer innovative Pre-Licensing and Post-Licensing, but we also have what you need to renew your license from the comfort of home.

When that time comes, completing your Continuing Education will be seamless and enjoyable, but we want to make sure you reach that point. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in a wealth of free resources, including ebooks, how-tos, blogs, videos, and podcasts all dedicated to helping us help you get your career up and running in any type of real estate market. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent? 

The short answer is that it depends. As mentioned above, real estate education requirements vary from state to state, and students at The CE Shop complete their coursework on their time. If a student decides, however, they want to commit full-time to their education in a state like Massachusetts, then they can be done with their education in one standard work week. In Texas, knocking out your Pre-Licensing could take just over four-and-a-half weeks. Then there’s taking the state exam and other administrative processes that might take a week to schedule and complete. On average, most people spend anywhere from four to six months getting their license. 

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Regardless of how, when, or where you begin your real estate career, it always requires an investment. As with anything in real estate, costs vary depending on the state in which you plan to do business. The cost of Pre-Licensing education, testing fees, application fees, Post-Licensing education (if required), and things like background checks should all be on your budget. 

Real Estate Education Expenses Average Costs
Pre-Licensing $300-$600
Post-Licensing (If required) $100-$200
Exam Fees $40-$100
State Application Fees  $80-$400
Background Check/Fingerprint (If required) $100-$125

Is Becoming a Real Estate Agent the Right Career For You? 

Whether you're looking to build your own massive real estate practice or you just want to help others find a new home, the benefits are the same for everyone. In real estate, you get to be your own boss, set your own schedule, work part-time if you choose, directly reap the rewards of your labor, and most importantly help people make their dream of homeownership come true — which, as it turns out, is also a very important and useful financial decision. As a real estate professional, you get to build your dreams and the dreams of others. Don’t wait, let’s get this party started — enroll in your first Pre-Licensing course today!