How Long Does It Take To Get a Real Estate License?


The time it takes to obtain a real estate license can vary depending on the state where you live and your unique situation. First, you will need to complete 40-180 hours of pre-license coursework. Then, you will go through the examination process and successful application process, all of which can differ by state. You also may need to find a broker to sponsor you before you become a broker yourself.

If you know how to hustle and sell, then becoming a real estate agent might be right up your alley. In order to succeed, you will need to be fully committed to the job. Real estate agents are commission-based, and thus it can take a while to get off the ground, even after you get your real estate license. You will also need a strategy for how you will become a real estate agent. But, if you think you would enjoy this type of work and are interested in getting your real estate license, we’ll help you determine the type of time commitment you’ll be looking at.

How long does it take to get a real estate license in each state?

It takes between 40-180 hours in pre-license coursework education before you are allowed to apply for a real estate license, depending on the state. You will then need to take the exam, pass the exam, and go through the application process. Therefore, depending on the state where you live, getting your real estate license can take between about 50 and 200 hours.

Requirements to apply for a real estate license

You will need to:

  • Have a high school degree or GED
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Complete a criminal background check

Pro Tip

Most states will allow people with felonies on their records to get a real estate license, but not all of them. The ones that do will require you to submit more paperwork and documentation related to your felony conviction in order to proceed. For instance, Texas suggests that the applicant submit documents for a Moral Character Determination to apply for their license if they have a felony on their record. Check with your state to see if there are any restrictions related to criminal records in the real estate license application process.

What are the steps you need to take to get your real estate license?

There are three steps to getting your real estate license and one step to start officially selling real estate. They are as follows:

  • Complete pre-license coursework
  • Take the examination
  • Complete an application
  • Find a sponsoring broker

Pre-license coursework

Your state’s rule on required pre-license coursework is the most impactful variable on how long it will take you to get a real estate license. Every state will have a different amount of course hours that must be completed before an applicant can take the exam. Every state has different coursework requirements, and it can seem a bit arbitrary, but here is the breakdown by state.

State Hrs State Hrs State Hrs State Hrs State Hrs
Alabama 60 Kentucky 96 North Dakota 90 Ohio 120 Oklahoma 90
Alaska 40 Louisiana 90 Maine 55 Maryland 60 Oregon 150
Arizona 90 Maine 55 Massachusetts 40 Pennsylvania 75 Rhode Island 45
Arkansas 60 Maryland 60 Michigan 40 South Carolina 60 South Dakota 116
California 135 Massachusetts 40 Minnesota 90 Tennessee 60 Texas 180
Colorado 168 Michigan 40 Mississippi 60 Utah 120 Vermont 48
Connecticut 60 Minnesota 90 Missouri 72 Virginia 60 Washington 90
Delaware 99 Mississippi 60 Montana 70 West Virginia 90 Wisconsin 72
Florida 63 Missouri 72 Nebraska 66 Wisconsin 72 Wyoming 54

Tips and tricks for pre-license coursework

As you can see, pre-license coursework makes up the vast majority of the time it takes you to get your real estate license. The more efficient you are at the course portion, the easier you will sail through the application and exam process. Here are some tried-and-true tips and tricks to help you during this process.

Choose the right education provider

  • Look for state-approved providers that offer the required pre-licensing courses. An online real estate school should work just fine.
  • Consider online options if you need flexibility in your schedule.

 Understand the curriculum

  • Familiarize yourself with the topics that will be covered, such as real estate law, property management, ethics, and finance.
  • Focus on areas that are emphasized in your state’s licensing exam.

Create a study schedule

  • Break down the material into manageable sections.
  • Set aside dedicated study time each day or week.

Use varied study materials

  • Utilize textbooks, online resources, flashcards, and practice exams.
  • Consider joining study groups or finding a study partner.

 Take practice exams

  • Practice exams can help you identify areas where you need improvement.
  • Time yourself to simulate the actual exam experience.
  • Understand the nuances of each state. Each state has different real estate laws, so make sure you know all the unique ones, back to front.
  • Each state has different rules pertaining to tax and business. Make sure you understand them all.

Exam questions

After completing the pre-license coursework, it’s time to take the exam. Although some states will have nuances, here is what you can expect to find on the exam.

National/real estate vs. local

One portion of the exam covers national regulations as well as general real estate principles. This portion is more of a “general test” of your knowledge of how real estate works. The second portion will require that you know the real estate laws of the state in which you are applying. It’s important to have a good grasp of both portions in order to ace the exam.

Pro Tip

Remember, you should understand how real estate works at a macro level before you can truly understand how it works at a local level. Real estate around the world behaves in a similar fashion. It is driven by the same supply-and-demand metrics, and its valuation is affected by similar events, both local and international. In order to truly become a good agent, you should understand the overarching concepts, then work your way down.

Format and duration

The exam will be multiple choice and could include long-form answers if the state requires it. The time of the exam will also vary from state to state, local real estate commission to local real estate commission. But assume that in general, the exam lasts between 90 minutes and three hours.

Retake policies

States have different policies in regard to how long you have to wait before you are able to take the exam again. Most states will have no limit on how many times you can retake the test, but most of them will require that you wait at least 24 hours before taking it again.

Application process

Now that you have passed your exam, you need to go through the application process. Here are some factors to consider:

Who is the state real estate commission or regulatory body?

  • Most states have a specific commission, board, or department that oversees real estate licensing.
  • This entity is responsible for processing applications, administering exams, and regulating real estate practice within the state.

Online submission

  • Many states offer online portals where you can complete and submit your application electronically.
  • This may include uploading required documents, such as proof of pre-licensing education completion, background check results, and payment of fees.

Mail submission

  • Some states may require or offer the option to mail a paper application, along with required documents and fees, to the designated address of the real estate commission or regulatory body

In-person submission

  • In some cases, you may have the option to submit your application in person at the office of the real estate commission or regulatory body.

Through a testing provider

  • In some states, the application process may be integrated with the examination process, and you may submit your application through the testing provider responsible for administering the real estate exam.

Through a sponsoring broker

  • If your state requires sponsorship by a licensed broker, you may need to coordinate with the broker as part of the application process.

It’s essential to consult the specific guidelines and instructions provided by your state’s real estate commission or regulatory body. They will provide detailed information on where and how to submit your application, including any required forms, documents, fees, and procedures. This information is often available on the commission’s website or in candidate handbooks or guides provided by the state.

Finding a sponsoring broker

So you have passed your exam, and you are sitting there with your feet twitching, constantly wondering how soon you will close on that $15 million deal. Slow down! You can’t just immediately sell real estate after you get your license; you need to find a sponsoring broker. Many states and jurisdictions require this.

So how to find a broker? The easiest way is to find a top company or agency and see if they might sponsor you. Take this brokerage for example.

Madison Estates Sotheby’s International Realty

Madison Estates is a brokerage under the Sotheby’s umbrella that focuses on multi-million-dollar properties, mainly situated in and around New York City. New York City is a first-tier global financial center; thus, the properties are some of the most expensive and sought-after in the world.

Do you need to have a license to make money in real estate?

No, you can make money in real estate without having a license. It’s helpful, and in many cases, crucial. However, we spoke to two experts who are heavily involved in real estate who say that for some of the most important aspects of real estate, licenses aren’t needed. “You can do 99% of what real estate is about without a real estate license,” says Chris Stout, the principal of StoutCap, a private shop that buys apartment complexes. “You can buy, sell, flip, wholesale, operate, and lend. Some of the lowest-paid people in real estate are the salespeople. Salespeople usually do not understand the long-term benefits of real estate. A real estate license is one of the least-valuable things if you want to make real money in the industry.”

Real estate investing without a license

Gagan Saini, who runs a successful property investment company called JiT Home Buyers, has never bothered to get one himself. “The reason I don’t have one is my primary focus is on the acquisition of real estate to grow my portfolio,” he says. “The primary benefit of holding a real estate license is that you can list properties, get commissions, and have access to the MLS, but from an investment perspective, I don’t see a need to hold a real estate license. I know how to run comps on properties, and the only benefit a license would give me at this particular point is commissions on any property I list for sale or buy from another agent. The time taken to acquire a real estate license is not something I feel I need to do at the moment.”

More ways to supplement your income

If you’re not ready to get your real estate license or are in the process of getting one, you can also supplement your income by flipping items or finding a side job, even one you can do from home.


How long does it take to complete the real estate licensing process?

It will take between 50 and 200 hours to complete the entire licensing process. A California real estate license will take a different amount of time than a Texas real estate license. Furthermore, the task of finding an attractive sponsoring broker will add additional time.

Do I need to complete any pre-licensing courses or education, and how much time do they usually take?

Yes, every state will have a different requirement when it comes to pre-license education and exams. You can see the hourly requirements for each state in our table above. It could take a few weeks or a few months, depending on the state.

After passing the exam, how long does it take to receive the actual real estate license and begin practicing as a licensed real estate agent?

You may receive your license as soon as a few days after you pass your exam, but you will still need to find a sponsoring broker. The faster you find a broker, the quicker you can get your real estate career off its feet.

How long does it take to get good at real estate? 

That depends on how much can you use your pre-license education and translate it into sales. A killer drive and the ability to network may actually be the most important of all real estate education requirements. It could take a few years to build your network.

Key takeaways

  • The time it takes to obtain a real estate license can vary depending on the state and each person’s unique situation. Generally, you need a high school diploma or GED before applying.
  • You’ll need between 40-180 pre-license course hours plus the time it takes to book the real estate licensing exam, take the exam, and apply for the license. You then need to find a sponsoring real estate broker.
  • Check with the state where you live to see what the course requirements are and if you can take online courses in your spare time to satisfy the requirements.
  • Although real estate courses and a real estate license can help your career, you don’t necessarily need a license to make money in real estate.
View Article Sources
  1. Become a Real Estate Sales Agent – Texas Real Estate Commission
  2. Licensing for Real Estate Professionals – National Association of Realtors
  3. Real Estate Agents: How They Work, What They Do, and How They Get Paid – SuperMoney
  4. How Realtors Get Paid: Real Estate Commissions Explained – SuperMoney
  5. How Many Jobs Are Available in Real Estate Investment Trusts? – SuperMoney
  6. The Key to Real Estate Success: Leveraging the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to Your Advantage – SuperMoney
  7. What Is a Broker? Types, Regulation and Examples – SuperMoney
  8. How to Finance Flipping a House – SuperMoney
  9. Wholesaling Real Estate: What Is It & How Does It Work? – SuperMoney