How to Become a Real Estate Agent

A career in real estate is all about freedom. A chance to set your own hours, be your own boss and achieve great things. And it’s a career you can get started on today. To help you understand how to become a real estate agent, we have a detailed list below.

Understand your state’s requirements

The requirements for obtaining your real estate license vary from state to state. The first step in learning how to become a real estate agent in your local housing market is to research requirements in your particular state. You can find your state’s requirements on your state’s pre-licensing course page at Real Estate Express. 

Find a real estate school

Make sure you find an ARELLO-accredited real estate school that offers pre-licensing coursework specific to your state. You will also want to decide if an online school or a classroom is the best option for you. Here’s a quick outline of what you can expect with an online real estate school vs. a classroom:

online real estate school vs classroom

Take your real estate pre-licensing coursework

All states require some form of pre-licensing coursework before you can take the real estate licensing exam. The type and amount of coursework needed will vary from state to state.

Study for your real estate pre-licensing exam

Before you can take your state real estate exam, you’ll have to pass the pre-licensing exam at the end of your coursework. Many students choose online coursework, in which case this exam will be online, too.

Consider a real estate exam prep program

Before you pass your pre-licensing coursework, consider a real estate exam prep program that will help you study state-specific material for your state real estate exam. Our Exam Prep Master program prepares you for the specific topics in your state’s license exam. Nearly everyone who completes the Exam Prep Master program passes their real estate licensing exam on the first try. However, if you don’t, we will refund your money.

Apply for your state real estate exam

Once you pass your real estate pre-licensing coursework, sign up for your state licensing exam. Usually, the application fee is in the $25 range.

Schedule your state exam

Research when and where the next real estate exam will be in your state. These are most frequently administered by third-party testing centers.

Complete the exam requirements

You may need to get fingerprinted and complete a background check before you can take your state real estate exam. Some states also require that you have Errors and Omissions Insurance. This may be offered by your broker.

Choose your broker

Depending on your state, you may be required to be sponsored by your broker to take the real estate exam. Choosing your broker may happen at this stage, or it may happen later, once you pass your test and are ready to start working.

Pass your state licensing exam

Taking and passing your state licensing exam is one of the most important steps on our checklist of how to become a real estate agent. Each state has different passing requirements for the licensing exam. You can view this information on your state’s website. To help ensure you pass your exam the first time, remember to consider taking a real estate exam prep course.

Join professional real estate organizations

Once you’ve passed the exam and earned your real estate license, you’ll want to become a member of your state and local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and perhaps the National Association of REALTORS®.

Execute your marketing plan

As a new real estate agent, your marketing plan should include a website, business cards, flyers, advertisements, social media, and personal networking.

Complete necessary real estate post-licensing coursework

A handful of states require you to complete real estate post-licensing coursework within the first 6–12 months after you obtain your real estate license.

Prospect for new clients

Once you have all your systems in place, let everyone know you’re in the real estate business. Soon you’ll start interacting with potential buyers and sellers, and you’ll be in business!


After reading this checklist, you should now have a better understanding of how to become a real estate agent. Although some details and requirements vary across different states, you can use this as a general guide for beginning your new career in real estate.


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