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Frequently Asked Questions about Earning a Real Estate License

A few people standing around confused and with questions

Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education

Published: July 30, 2020

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in real estate, you might have a lot of questions about how to get licensed and how to start working as an agent. In addition to questions about real estate licensure requirements, you may be curious about what you can expect while on the job. You’re not alone. Many prospective agents are unsure of where to start or how to determine if real estate is the right fit for them.

We’ve compiled a list of the top questions prospective real estate agents have, both about licensure and success on the job. Take a look at the list below to get answers to your questions about careers in real estate.

FAQs from Prospective Real Estate Agents

How long does it take to become a real estate agent?

How much time it takes you to become a real estate agent largely depends on your state. Each state has unique requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to earn your real estate license. The requirement that will take the most time to complete is your prelicensing education, which varies in the number of hours required.

For instance, in California, you will need to complete 135 hours of prelicensing education, which would take you a little over a month to complete in a Live Online course with scheduled classes. If you choose to complete the education on your own time, either in an on-demand or home-study course option, it could take you longer or shorter than that depending on how much time you have available to devote to it.

After completing your prelicensing education, you’ll need to pass an exam and apply for your license. The amount of time it takes to become a real estate agent is relatively little compared to other career pursuits with licensure involved. Since you don’t need a college degree, you’ll save money and be able to start working right away. Find out what your requirements are by selecting your state from this list.

How do you become a licensed real estate agent?

To become a licensed real estate agent, you’ll need to complete all the requirements for licensure set forth by your state’s real estate commission. These requirements usually consist of an age requirement, a prelicensing education requirement, and an exam requirement. You’ll also need to complete an application to obtain your license. To see your requirements, find your state on this list.

How much does it cost to become a real estate agent?

Preparing ahead of time for the total cost of becoming a real estate agent will save you from any unexpected fees down the road. To arrive at the total amount earning a real estate license will cost you, you’ll need to factor in the following items: prelicensing education fees, real estate exam fees, application and fingerprinting fees, and any necessary marketing and business expenses you’ll need to start working. Making a plan to account for and meet these costs will ensure a smooth start to your new career.

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How much does a real estate agent make?

The salary of a real estate agent is based on how many properties they sell and how much commission they receive on each sale. Because of this, salaries for real estate agents vary widely. This is good news for determined real estate agents with big goals. The only limit to how much you can make is how hard you’re willing to work for it.

To calculate how much you can make from a single sale, you’ll need to know the amount of the sale and the commission rate percentage. Once you have the number (let’s say the commission rate is 6% and the sale was $300,000, meaning the commission is $18,000), that number is split between the buyer’s broker and the seller’s broker, according to an agreed-upon percentage. Then, the amount that is designated to your brokerage is split between you and your managing broker’s agreed-upon percentage. The remaining amount is what you take home.

How hard is it to become a real estate agent?

Earning your real estate license is fairly straightforward. After finding out what the real estate commission in your state requires for licensure, you’ll need to complete each requirement and apply for your license.

The requirements are designed to be accessible for a wide range of people, coming from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Unlike many licensed careers, you don’t need a college degree or any previous experience in the field. You will need to complete prelicensing education and pass an exam, both of which are determined by your state.

The hard part about becoming a real estate agent comes after earning your license. In the first year or two on the job, whether you succeed in the field or not comes down to the choices you make. Many new real estate agents could benefit from having a clear plan for success in their first few years. This article will walk you through how to set yourself up for success as a new real estate agent.

Can you be a real estate agent in more than one state?

Yes. Each state has its own requirements for real estate licensure that you’ll need to fulfill in order to become licensed in that state. But first, check to see if the additional state you’re looking to become licensed in has a reciprocal agreement with your current state—meaning you could potentially get to skip a few steps in the process.

For example, Colorado offers partial real estate license reciprocity for all states. If you’ve earned your real estate license in another state, you can become licensed in Colorado by passing the state portion of the Colorado real estate exam. To see what agreements your current state might have with other states, check your state’s real estate commission website.

How do I work as a part-time real estate agent?

Many people find that working part-time as a real estate agent allows them to have the flexibility they need without sacrificing their current commitments. You’ll need to complete all your state’s requirements for licensure, obtain your license, and then find a brokerage that is on board with your part-time schedule.

Make sure your chosen schedule is compatible with your clients’ availability, which is usually evenings and weekends. Being available during the times most convenient for your clients will result in happier clients and more sales.

How many years do you have to be a real estate agent before you can become a broker?

The first step is finding out what requirements are in place for broker licensure in your state. These can be found on the real estate commission website for your state. Usually, the requirements ask that you have between 2–3 years of experience working as a licensed real estate agent before you can become a real estate broker. During these 2–3 years, you can be simultaneously working to fulfill the other broker licensing requirements, such as the education component.

What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?

A real estate agent is someone who has earned their real estate license and is working under a real estate brokerage. A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent who also belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®. If an agent belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®, they must follow higher ethical standards and are held to a Code of Ethics. You can find more information about becoming a REALTOR® here.

What does the daily life of a real estate agent look like?

The daily life of a real estate agent is varied and looks different from day-to-day. One day you might be meeting with clients and showing properties, and the next you might be in the office completing paperwork and answering emails.

Besides showing properties, there are a lot of tasks that real estate agents complete that you may not have thought of. For instance, real estate agents are often in charge of their own marketing and advertising. This could involve setting up online ads, making connections with well-known people in the community, and putting flyers up at local establishments with community boards.

Every day as a real estate agent will present you with exciting opportunities to learn and grow your leads. Many agents thrive from being able to have a hand in every aspect of their business, from answering phone calls to setting up open houses.