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How to Get a Real Estate License

Real estate sales agent and broker licenses are issued on a state-by-state basis and require a certain amount of classroom instruction followed by a written examination. Discover the licensure process and job prospects for real estate professionals.

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For those interested in obtaining a real estate license, there are specific requirements pertaining to education and training that must be met before sitting for the licensing exam. Read on for details regarding these requirements and expectations, as well as salary and job outlook statistics for real estate agents.

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Real Estate Licensure Requirements

Those looking to sell real estate in the United States must earn a license to practice. Classroom instruction and training requirements vary per state and may include as many as 120 hours of coursework. Besides completing state-mandated training, individuals must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma. Those looking to enroll in required courses may do so online or in-person.

Aspiring real estate agents must also take their state's licensure exam. Exam requirements are often available on a state's real estate commission website. After meeting all requirements, completing the coursework and passing the licensure exam, individuals can apply for real estate agent licensure in their state.

To obtain a real estate broker's license, individuals often need to complete 1-3 years of sales agent experience and some additional coursework. Applicants are often subject to a background check. Almost all states require both real estate agents and brokers to renew their licenses every 2-4 years, as well as complete continuing education requirements.

Education

Several states have very specific education requirements when it comes to real estate training, so individual should check with their state licensing board before paying for any training programs. Some colleges offer certificate or degree programs in real estate or related fields, and these programs may simultaneously prepare individuals for licensure exams.

Many real estate agencies and associations offer their own courses to aspiring real estate professionals. When finding one of these courses or set of courses, the aspiring real estate professional should make sure the association is a member of the National Association of Realtors, which is a nationally recognized organization.

Licensure Exam Topics

In addition to completing the appropriate programs and courses, students can go through a testing service for additional help in taking the exam. In order to pass the exam, proficiency in English, math, real estate fundamentals such as ethics and best practices must be displayed. More specifically, those tested will need to correctly answer 70 percent of the questions to obtain their license. Licensure exams must be retaken every few years to remain current, although the specific time period varies from state to state. Subjects on the test include:

  • Individual state laws
  • Finance
  • Appraisal
  • Federal laws
  • Valuation
  • Property transfer
  • Land use and property ownership

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), real estate sales agents and real estate brokers can expect to experience a slow rate of job growth of 3% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS expects new agents to experience competition, while brokers are expected to have better job prospects. In May 2016, average annual earnings were $59,360 for real estate sales agents and $79,340 for real estate brokers, according to the BLS.

Those seeking their real estate license must complete a certain amount of coursework and pass a licensing exam. Once in the field, they can expect a competitive salary, though positions for new agents may be hard to obtain.

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