How Hard is it to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Becoming a real estate agent was one of the best decisions I ever made. Real estate has provided me with a great income, a flexible schedule, and incredible investment opportunities. There are many ways to make money as a real estate agent or a Realtor, but while it is not hard to get your license, it is difficult to become a successful agent. I have been an agent and broker for over 15 years. I recently started my own brokerage and I am a real estate investor as well. Being a successful agent has given me the income to flip houses and buy rental properties as well.

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How hard is it to get your real estate license?

If you are thinking of getting your real estate license, you need to know how hard it is to get your license. That is a difficult question to answer because each state has different licensing laws and requirements. However, a good friend of mine just passed the real estate test in Colorado and I have some great information from him on what to expect when getting your real estate license in Colorado. This information may not be state specific to where you live, but it will give you an idea of what is involved. Some states have fewer requirements and some have more requirements to get your real estate license than Colorado. I have had my license since 2001 and it was not easy for me to get my license; things have become even more difficult over the years. Colorado is one of the most difficult states to get a real estate license in; here is a list of the requirements for all 50 states.

How long does it take to get your real estate license?

In Colorado, you must take 168 hours of real estate education before you can take the Colorado real estate exam. That is over four weeks of classes if you went to school full-time for 40 hours a week. Most people do not have the time to devote 40 hours a week to real estate school. It took my friend 8 months to take the classes and pass his real estate test. He had a full-time job and I was forced to take classes after work and on the weekends. He took his real estate classes online so that he could have a flexible schedule. In Texas, you need 210 hours of education, but in California, just three courses are needed. In most states, it takes much less time to get your real estate license.

If you are interested in getting your real estate license, I suggest Real Estate Express, which offers classes in most states and has some of the lowest prices on real estate classes.

What do you have to do to become a real estate agent?

There is more to getting your real estate license than taking classes and passing a test. Real estate is a highly regulated industry and here are some of the other requirements in Colorado.

  • You must pass a background test, which involves being fingerprinted.
  • You must pass tests and quizzes to go along with the 168 hours of education you take. The education required for a Colorado real estate license is not a stroll through the park. Here is a quote from my friend, “Reading dry material at night after work and after family time. I was usually tired. The tests at the end of each section were flipping impossible. They would ask about minute details that had little to do with comprehension. My school didn’t even try to make it interesting or add commentary. They pretty much copied and pasted out of the Colorado legal documents on the topics.”
  • You must hang your license with a broker once you pass the exam and pass the background check to activate your license. Each brokerage has different costs; some take part of your commissions and some charge base fees.
  • You must buy E and O insurance and most likely will want to become a Realtor, join a local board and join local multiple listing service (MLS). It is not cheap to become an agent.
  • Once you have your license you must take 24 hours of continuing education every three years to keep your real estate license active.

If you would like more information on becoming a real estate agent, finding success as a real estate agent, and how much fun it can be being an agent. Check out my book: How to Make it Big as a Real Estate Agent: The right systems and approaches to cut years off your learning curve and become successful in real estate. It is available as a paperback and eBook.

How hard are real estate classes?

You can take the real estate courses online or in person in a school. My friend took the classes online to work with his busy work schedule. In my experience and my friends taking real estate classes, online courses are extremely boring, and staring at a computer for 168 hours is not easy to do. Here is what my friend had to say about his experience with the real estate education.

“If I could do it over again I would take the classes in person if it fits your lifestyle. In person would have been much more engaging and exciting. Online is good for flexibility of hours, but that is about it. The material is dry, so it is exhausting reading that much on a computer screen for that long. You are probably fully familiar with this. Some online schools are starting to do video-based instruction. I personally would put this in last place. With written material, you can move at your own pace and easily copy/paste, and review sections as needed. Video would be at their pace and you would have to manually take notes. I’d avoid online video like the plague.”

I took the classes online 15 years ago and I struggled to get through the courses. I had been around real estate my whole life and I still had a hard time reading all that information online. The material that is covered in the classes is very dry. If you are hoping to learn how to invest in real estate or learn advanced techniques in selling homes, think again! The material is about technical laws, rules, settlement sheets, and case history. Very little is covered on material that will help people sell houses or help you personally invest in real estate. The material is meant to keep people from going to jail for committing fraud or misleading buyers and sellers, not to actually help you succeed. Here is a great article on some misconceptions about being an agent.

How hard is the Colorado real estate test?

The Colorado real estate test is not easy! To tell the truth, I failed it twice myself even though I thought I would breeze through it. Many of the questions on the Colorado test are very tricky with double negatives and wording meant to trick the test takers. There is also a ton of memorization needed and you need to be able to do the math for the settlement sheets!

The test is about memorization and your ability to take tests. The test itself takes up to four hours, is conducted in a high security test center and you are not allowed to bring notes. My friend passed the test on his first try, but as he says, he is used to taking exams like this. He has his MBA and he has taken many similar professional exams in his previous corporate career.

How much does it cost to get your real estate license?

In Colorado, the real estate courses vary widely in cost. Some online schools cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while classroom school courses can run into the thousands. The exam itself costs $80 and you must pay an accredited company or a law enforcement office to fingerprint you. Once you get your license, you will have continued costs like board dues, MLS dues, operating expenses, and fees or commission splits to pay your broker.

Here is an article on how to make $100,000 a year as a real estate agent.

Getting your license is the first step of becoming a real estate agent

Once you have your license you will not magically start selling houses without a plan or hard work. Here are a few articles to help you understand what it takes to be successful.

How I save money by being a real estate agent?

One of the biggest advantages to being a real estate agent is the money I save on my investment properties. I have saved at least $70,000 in the last year on properties I have personally bought or sold. The savings on commissions on my investment property is why I think it is vital that real estate investors should become real estate agents. I save money on fix and flips when I buy the flip and when I sell it. I save money on my rental properties when I buy them and I get more deals because I am an agent.

Conclusion

If you want to become a real estate agent, make sure you research what is involved in your state. Some states have easier requirements than others do, but it is not difficult to get your license in most places. It costs a lot of money to become a real estate agent, but it is well worth it in my opinion. Becoming a real estate agent saves me a ton of money and allows me a better opportunity to buy properties below market value. I consider those bonuses on top of the incredible income you can earn from real estate.

64 thoughts on “How Hard is it to Become a Real Estate Agent?

  1. Hello Mark!
    All this info is great! I’m starting down this journey at almost 50. I’ve always had the ‘want to’, but never took the leap because for so many yrs I was a single mom of 3. Might be ridiculous, but I’m over being someone else’s b&#/$ and them running me ragged in corp America and bleeding me of my life.
    After obtaining my license, I’ll probably need to work part time initially in the business, because I like to eat and pay bills. I’m not blind to think it will be easy and I know it will be rough.
    Because of this, I want to start to plan for the ‘after the license’ piece if possible. However, I’m not sure I know how to plan for that time? Do you have any material or resources on ‘planning’ after the licence? I’m sure there are so many variables, but it seems like there should be steps to take just like the are so many to avoid.

    Thanks again!
    Melissa

  2. Hi Mark … is it possible to be a realtor if I am new to the state where I live right now ? I did take the class couple years ago but I lost confidence.

  3. As a licensed investor in Oklahoma, I can say that having my license has definitely been worth it. There are a lot of hosues we go to see that can’t be bought at investment levels but can be listed. Those are easily turned into listings or referrals. As you said the savings on listing properties you own is also beneficial. As a home buying company, I think it adds credibility to be licensed also.

  4. Real estate! Man what a beautiful thing! So many people have become rich and are living the dream life all because of those two little words. “Real Estate”! I personally am obsessed with it. Thanks for sharing this one. Looking forward to your next blog.

  5. Hello, I would like to know how much do you need know in order to get in the field. Looking to learn more about real estate. Where should I start? Thanks!

  6. Hey mark, I am a 20 year old hairstylist looking to get into the real estate field. I understand the demand to get clients can be one of the hardest parts, do you think my age will effect my representation?

    • No, many people as that question and as long as you don’t let it affect your business it won’t be significant.

  7. hello Mark.i would like to know.can i get real estate agent licence and work as agent in USA,if im not us citizen,but i have my visa?bcz im EU citizen.

  8. Anyone who wants to enjoy a career in the real estate domain as an agent can make good use of this article. The steps that needs to be followed in order to get the real estate license and the things to keep in mind after acquiring it have been mentioned very clearly by the author.

  9. I loved this post and lots of information that I was looking for. I’m only 19 and I was wondering if that is to young to start. Also any tips before and and after I could do to get a good start in my career.

    • You are not too young to start, but state laws do vary on when you can get your license. I would look into those. Also check out my real estate agent article category. A lot of great info in there.

  10. I’ve spoken with a number of REO assest managers and as I expected, none of them are willing to spend much time directing me in the right direction.

    Some have said they get all their agents from a 3rd party website like riogenisis.com & others say they have a list of agents they go through in the order that they applied. Is it worth signing up on these 3rd party websites?

    Also, I noticed that a lot of asset management companies, tend to want their agents to carry E&O insurance. Is this something that you were required to get before you could list REOs?

    • Yes, it is worth signing up everywhere. The REO companies tell that to everyone. That is one way they weed out applicants. They don’t go through in the list they applied. They use the agents they know first and then look at qualifications. You will have to have E and O to work with any REO company.

  11. Hey Mark, great stuff on here, I am gaining more and more knowledge of real estate. Can I pick your brain by any chance? Just a few questions I promise I wont bombard you or anything. Can you just send me an email? [email protected]

  12. Thank you for all the helpful real estate information, I’m really looking Forward to receiving email updates. Thank you for all your hard work and years of dedication.

  13. If one is interested in real estate, I strongly suggest taking the course at a school/college. I give your friend a lot of respect for completing the course online. With that said the information is very dry, usually leaving the first 5 chapters about all the fun stuff in real estate, and the 18 remaining chapters in dry cut law and contracts. (In IL). I took the night class route, had a very outgoing teacher and having the option to ask questions was a plus. To sum it up, it honestly felt like a course in law school besides the option to add language to a contract.

  14. Is it possible to be a real estate agent only during the hours of 5pm to midnight and weekends? I am a full time engineer and do not plan to leave my job but I enjoy real estate very much. I’d like to do it on the side and be deeply involved for investment purposes.

    • Its possible but tough. Some people want to see houses during the day and many agents work during the day who you will have to work with. It is best if you have a partner or someone who can help during those hours.

  15. Hi, I have been inquiring about real estate for quite sometime now… in your opinion, how much would you have to invest in order to get licensed?

  16. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your article. I’m thinking about pursuing my license as well, but wanted your opinion on the best school to do it as there are a lot of options. One of the links off of your article lead me to an online option for Colorado called RealEstateExpress.com. What are your thoughts here?

    Thanks!

    Jacquelyn

    • Hi, I have not done the classes in so long that it is hard for me to give personal experience. I have never used them and I do not know how good or bad they are. Part of the problem with the Colorado license is the material is so dry and hard to retain.

  17. Hi Mark,
    It sounds like I’m taking the same Colorado online course that your friend is. I want to throw my computer against the wall. Although I will say I cannot thank you enough for posting about how hard it is to sit and read 70+ slides that are, in my opinion, poorly structured, and then regurgitate it for the test when zero anecdotal information is provided. I was beginning to question my level of intelligence.
    That said, is there any exam prep course you (or your friend) would recommend? I don’t want to take the test multiple times if I can help it and I can confidently say that I am not currently prepared despite being nearly finished with my online classes.

    Thank you!

  18. Thank you for your article. I have just begun investing in real estate and was researching the requirements in my state for becoming a an agent for the same reasons you state. I am unsure about the requirement of being affiliated with a broker. How does one find a broker that takes in agents that primarily get their license to support their own REI business?

  19. Interesting, insightful article. It got me thinking about pursuing a real estate license myself, although I’m more interested in real estate investing. In looking through the requirements I found that you must have an employing broker to actually get the license. Is there a way around that if working for a broker is not the ultimate goal? Or is it not worth getting a license if I don’t expect to be a real estate agent long term? Thanks!

    • I have had a lot of questions about having to work under a broker when you get your license. The short answer is yes, in most states if not all you have to hang your license with a broker. I am writing a new article now with more details.

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