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How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Many would-be agents ask themselves, “How long does it take to become a real estate agent?”

If this is you, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn timelines and tips to help you jump-start your career.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Working as a real estate agent can provide great upside earning potential. It can open the door to a rewarding career helping families find their dream homes.

But many agents-to-be wonder, “How long does it take to become a real estate agent?” Like most jobs, you can’t just become an agent; it takes time. But the required investment may be less than you think.

It typically takes between four and six months for the average agent to get their real estate license.

That’s a fraction of how long it would take to get a college degree. And a career as a real estate agent compares favorably in many ways to some professions that require a degree.

Factors Affecting Licensing Time

Factors affecting licensing time put into graphical form

There are three major elements that affect how quickly you can get a real estate license. They are:

  1. State Requirements: How many hours of real estate pre-licensing courses does the state require?
  2. Class Type: The Format you choose for the pre-licensing classes
  3. Study Habits: Time required for the state to actually issue your license

The state where you live determines how long it takes to get licensed. States have the legal authority to grant real estate licenses. And real estate laws are different in every state.

1. Pre-License Hour Requirements

Pre-license hour requirements graphic showing someone sitting at a desk with clocks and timelines surrounding them in green backgrounds

Education requirements are the main factor. State real estate commissions require different amounts of class time before you can take the licensing test.

Texas has some of the most challenging sets of requirements. You must take 180 hours of instruction before you can sit for the licensing test. On the other hand, Massachusetts only requires 24 hours.

Here are some other state-specific pre-licensing course requirements:

  • California: 135 hours
  • New York: 75 hours
  • Florida: 63 hours
  • Pennsylvania: 60 hours

The states also specify different courses for real estate education that would-be agents must take. But the big difference is the number of hours.

2. Classroom vs Online Study Time

Graphic for a piece on how long does it take to become a real estate agent showing people sitting in a classroom alongside someone taking virtual real estate courses

The second major influence on how long it takes to get a license is how you study. There are two main choices: online or face-to-face in a classroom.

Classrooms Take 4-6 Months

If you go to a classroom for your instruction, it can take four to six months. Again, the actual length depends on your state’s instruction requirements.

If you study online, you can get through the pre-licensing coursework faster. A student who works hard at a self-paced online course can finish in weeks instead of months.

This will depend on your personal abilities and preferred approach to learning. Some people learn faster and better in a classroom.

Online Classes take 1–4 Months

For them, an online study course may take longer than one based in a classroom. Students also have to pass the state licensing test after completing the coursework. An online course may take less time.

But if a student can’t pass the test on the first try, it may take longer to get that license. Hybrid courses are an option. For these, students spend part of their time studying online.

Hybrid Class Options

The rest of the time, they go to a classroom for face-to-face instruction. This may work for someone who wants to finish fairly quickly but isn’t comfortable doing it online only.

There is a real estate school in nearly every city. But there may not be one convenient to your home where you can study in a classroom. In that case, online may be your only option.

Our favorite online real estate school is Real Estate Express. Luckily for you, we’ve done a complete review of their services and what to expect. Click the link below to learn more.

3. Application Processing Time

Application processing time as a factor affecting how long it takes to become a real estate agent

State agencies have to issue a would-be real estate agent’s license. The process involves several steps, each of which takes time.

One of the big factors is whether a state processes applications electronically or uses paper documents. Electronic processing is a lot faster.

For example, look at the California real estate licensing timeline. You must submit an application via fax or mail, which is the most efficient way to send anything in the digital age.

They also require a great deal of pre-licensing hours, so you’re probably closer to 6 months from start to finish.

In some states, electronic license application processing is automated. In those cases, you may be able to get your test scores immediately after taking the test.

You may even be able to get a temporary license at the same time. If you are using a paper application, it takes time for the mail to deliver the application.

It takes more for the agency to process it and more for your license to arrive in the mail. This can add a couple of weeks to the process by itself.

4. Other Time Considerations

Graphic showing other time considerations

Getting a real estate license calls for more than just taking a class and a test. Again, depending on the state, a would-be agent may need to:

  • Supply fingerprints and go through a background check
  • Have a delay of a few days to a few weeks before scheduling the real estate exam
  • Get a licensed real estate broker to sponsor them before taking the test

All this takes time. In addition, many students take an additional pre-test study course after finishing their real estate course. The added exam prep improves the odds of passing the license exam.

Post-Licensing Education

You may even have more required education after getting the license. Florida, for instance, makes new agents take another 45 hours of instruction after licensing.

Pre-Employment Training

Every state requires new agents to work with a broker for a while. Until a freshly licensed agent has lined up a broker for this, he or she can’t work. That can consume time as well. Many agents also join the National Association of Realtors.

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in many places will require agents to join NAR to list properties. This doesn’t take much time. You just fill out the application and pay the fee.

Multiple Jobs

Finally, you may need to keep working another job until your real estate earnings can support you. The longer you work as an agent, the more you are likely to earn.

But early on, the commissions on completed transactions may be few and far between.

Higher Education

Some real estate professionals go on to get bachelor’s degrees in real estate, while others go one step further and obtain a master’s degree.

Some states waive the real estate school requirement for applicants with real estate-specific higher education training.

Continuing Education

You’ll also have to continue continuing education to keep your license. Generally, this consists of a course or two every couple of years.

McKissock Learning makes this process easy by offering online CE classes.

So, How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Graphic showing agent timeline equaling 4-6 months

There is no limit to the amount of time and energy you can devote to a real estate career. Of course, this depends on your state’s own requirements and how dedicated you are to studying.

But getting started probably won’t take more than a few months with hard work and dedication to jump-starting your career. As we’ve mentioned, online classes are by far the best way to go.

They are more flexible and cost less, and I find them easier to complete in a timely manner. Our favorite course is Real Estate Express.