Becoming a real estate agent was a great idea for me. I have a passion for real estate investing, home improvement, helping others, setting my own schedule, running a business, the list goes on. However, the traditional real estate agent role is definitely not for everyone and has a very high failure rate—over 80% in the first few years.

That’s not to say you won’t be successful. Just make sure you’re being realistic and not looking for an easy way to make money. Nothing about becoming a real estate agent is easy, or cheap.

Therefore, I would say the essential first step to getting your real estate license would be to have an honest talk with yourself. Really dig deep to understand what it is about you that will help you succeed.

Is Real Estate Right For You?

Everyone’s different—different reasons for getting into real estate—different goals. And while most people have their sights set on those big commission checks, everyone ultimately has a different vision of how they plan to spend their time from day to day.

Choosing real estate was a major move in my career journey. I was still an early career professional, had a master’s degree in Public Health and worked with the top public health agency in the world. I quickly learned that I was miserable. Miserable commuting to the office, being in the office, sitting through meetings talking about the same things over and over.

Perhaps you’re like me and need a big change, looking for a great side hustle, or you’re simply still exploring career options. Whatever your reason, you’re on the right track. If you’re reading this, it shows you’re doing your research and gaining those realistic expectations. A very important step.

Take a Pre-Licensing Course

Each state has different regulations for licensure so it’s important that you check your state’s requirements.

Here’s a list of the minimum requirements to become a real estate agent.

No matter the state, a pre-licensing course is required. You can take the course online or in-person at an accredited real estate licensing school. Each state’s pre-licensing course topics and hours will vary.

For example, in Connecticut we’re required to take a 60-hour Real Estate Principles & Practices course. I can’t say much about the online course, but read enough about the material being dry that I decided to go the classroom route. I attended a 3-hour class, three days per week for seven weeks. Either way you decide to go, the hours stay the same and some states require more than 60.

Overall, I can’t say I’m sorry for that decision. The pre-licensing course is a necessary introduction into the world of real estate. Almost like learning a new language—you learn the lingo and many laws surrounding real estate. At least we had great teachers who spent years in real estate themselves so they would throw in a few awesome tips and stories to make the 60 hours go by a bit faster.

Pass Your State License Exam

Attending the class was cake compared to studying for the licensing exam. That’s not to say it can’t be done. I mean, you’ve met realtors before. If they can pass the exam…. But seriously, the material is no joke. You’ll cover national and state principles and laws in class and then be tested on both.

The test will be multiple choice, perhaps 60 to 100 questions, and you’ll need to get above the minimum passing score. For Connecticut, we had to get at least 70% on both the national and state portion. Each state will have different requirements to pass.

Fortunately, we took regular quizzes in our pre-licensing class and had a practice mid-term to assess if we needed to up our study game. There should also practice quizzes and a practice exam in your textbook or online.

Find a Real Estate Brokerage

Congratulations on passing the exam! (By the way, most states allow you to retake the exam or the portion you didn’t pass, for a fee, but you won’t need that.) The next step is to find a brokerage that you want to work with.

As a newly licensed agent you won’t be able to manage the real estate transaction, or the exchange of big monies, without the help of a licensed broker. The law for each state is that you’ll need to have a contract with a brokerage for two or three years until you’re eligible to become a broker yourself—if that’s what you choose to do.

Becoming a broker requires experience, additional education and additional fees. There are some pros and cons to becoming a real estate broker, which I’ll cover in another post. Also, choosing the brokerage is a personal decision based on your location, work style, real estate goals, etc.

You’ll want to do your research and interview the brokerages you’re interested in. They’ll most likely be very happy to have you! This is because they’ll make money off of your success in commission splits. But hey, we need to enjoy the small stuff! You just went through this whole process and finally a break. No submitting applications and promoting yourself here—that’ll all come when it’s time to find clients. 

There’s no doubt it’s a costly endeavor. You’ll need money to get started for board membership, MLS fees, brokerage fees, etc. It can add up, but just like any investment, and if your heart is in it, the return will be worth it.

Time to celebrate—you are now a licensed real estate agent!