This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
To continue your real estate practice, you must satisfy state-specific requirements every license renewal cycle. While requirements vary, most states generally require a specific number of continuing education (CE) coursework hours, renewal applications, and renewal fees. In some states, post-licensing and/or first-time renewal hours are also required to keep your license active after passing the state exam.
1. Know Your Renewal Requirements
States require real estate agents and brokers to complete specific hours of continuing education within the license renewal period. The number of education hours and the length of the renewal period differ by state. Aside from the continuing education requirements, real estate professionals also need to submit a renewal application form and pay a renewal fee.
All states require agents to renew their licenses in one- to four-year cycles. For example, California gives you four years to complete 45 hours of continuing education, while Arkansas requires you to complete seven hours of continuing education every year. Meanwhile, New Jersey agents and brokers must complete 12 hours of education every two years to remain actively licensed.
Did you know?
In some states, newly licensed real estate professionals have titles such as “broker” or “provisional broker” (e.g., Colorado and Oregon). However, these licensees do not have the capability to manage or own a brokerage. In these cases, the term “real estate broker” refers to salespeople who may choose to upgrade their license to become an associate broker, managing broker, principal broker, or broker-in-charge.
Click here to check the license renewal requirements in your state.
2. Identify the Type of Continuing Education You Need
All states require a certain number of continuing education hours to renew their licenses as well as subsequent renewals. However, in some states, like California and Nevada, newly licensed agents must fulfill several additional requirements for their first renewal only. While in other states, like Alabama and Louisiana, post-licensing education is required to remove the provisional status of your license.
Subsequent real estate renewals for agents and brokers usually have fewer credit requirements compared to prelicensing and post-licensing education. This makes it even more important to know your state’s requirements so you can guarantee you’re taking the right amount of education at the right time.
Here are the four types of continuing education you might need to complete for your real estate license renewal:
In several states, newly licensed agents and brokers are required to satisfy additional education hours after they pass the exam. Though mandatory post-license education varies by state, courses typically include new laws and regulations in real estate. Agents and brokers need to complete this before their first real estate license renewal, usually within one to two years of initial licensure, to keep their license active.
As mentioned, the mandatory post-licensing hours differ between states. For instance, agents in Florida need to complete 45 hours of post-licensing within 18 to 24 months of initial licensure, while Vermonters have to complete eight hours of post-licensing within nine days. Other states have longer renewal periods. Agents in South Dakota, for example, can complete each 30-hour post-license coursework (of the 60 hours) every licensing period.
Here are the states that require post-licensing education:
- South Dakota
In certain states, newly licensed agents need to complete special requirements for their first license renewal if they intend to continue their real estate practice. First-time license renewal may require more hours on a specific subject compared to subsequent renewals. For example, in New York, first-time renewals require two hours of agency law, while subsequent renewals only require one hour of this subject.
In California, the first real estate agent or broker license renewal requires 15 hours of mandatory continuing education (CE) courses, while subsequent renewals require 18 hours of these core courses. Be sure to check your state’s CE requirements and leave plenty of time to complete additional coursework.
The following are the states that require first-time renewal for real estate licensees:
- New Hampshire
- New York
Second & Subsequent Renewal
After post-licensing and/or the first license renewal, you then need to renew your license every cycle to keep your active status. Some states like New York don’t offer a grace period. Therefore, you must complete the CE requirements in time to receive the certificates and submit the additional paperwork and fees by the deadline.
In some states, the required number of continuing education hours for subsequent renewals will decrease. For instance, brokers in South Dakota only need to complete 24 hours of continuing education to renew their license, compared to the 60-hour post-licensing education requirement. Be sure to check your local real estate commission or our list of requirements in the link above for mandated hours.
State-specific Mandatory Courses Versus Electives
When renewing your real estate license, your state may ask you to complete a certain number of hours of mandatory and elective courses. Mandatory courses are specific subjects required by the state for license renewal. For example, in Texas, active sales agents must complete eight hours of Legal Update courses every two years to renew their license. For elective courses, many states allow you to choose from a list of approved real estate professional courses specified by your real estate commission.
In another example, agents in Nevada need 18 hours of mandatory and 18 hours of elective courses. The following are the mandatory courses Nevadan agents must complete every two years:
- 3 hours Agency
- 6 hours Contracts
- 3 hours Ethics
- 3 hours Law & Legislation
- 3 hours Risk Reduction
The remaining 18 elective hours can be any of the following general courses*:
- Current Issues: Cooperation, Negotiation, iBuyers, and Disaster Preparedness
- Document Excellence for Smoother Transactions
- Hot Topics in Real Estate
- Marketing, Advertising, and Social Media Compliance
- Property Inspection Issues
- Taxes and Real Estate: What You Need to Know
*Courses can be found on The CE Shop
You can choose from hundreds of mandatory and elective course topics offered by local and national real estate schools. When you purchase continuing education courses online, consider the elective topics and how they will help you grow your real estate business.
You can check state-approved mandatory and elective courses from The CE Shop. With courses available in all 50 states, The CE Shop is a leading online real estate school that offers customizable continuing education. The school utilizes a custom LEAP platform, so active agents can access their courses at home, at work, or on the go and complete their coursework at their own pace.
3. Choose a Real Estate School to Complete Your Coursework
The CE courses you choose must be from a school approved by your state. While some states like North Carolina require real estate professionals to take all CE courses in person, most states allow real estate agents and brokers to take in-person or online courses.
Taking your real estate education online is more convenient as you can complete courses between your busy schedule and at your own pace. Admittedly, some real estate professionals learn better in a traditional classroom setting. When choosing your CE course format, consider the cost, your schedule, and your learning style.
These are the course formats offered by real estate schools:
- In-person classes: This is a great option for those who learn best in a traditional setting. While they can be more difficult to schedule, they provide direct access to real estate experts in your state.
- Online self-paced lessons: Online courses are often the most affordable and convenient option to complete your CE credits. You can complete each lesson on your own time. However, reading large amounts of text-based materials can be challenging for some agents.
- Live webinars online: Live webinars marry the convenience of online courses with the support of a live instructor. However, they are not offered frequently and only through a few real estate schools.
- On-demand video lessons: On-demand lessons are self-paced and can help agents and brokers with various learning styles. However, they are not offered by most schools and can be more costly.
- Home study: This format allows you to read through a hardcopy textbook and mail your exam questions to prove course completion. Kaplan is one of the few online schools that offers home study options, or you may check local schools as well.
Check out the best online real estate schools that offer accredited continuing education nationwide for license renewal.
Access to all state-specific CE courses
Variety of CE course formats
Customizable online real estate education
Budget-friendly CE courses
Price Range for CE Courses
$14 to $519
$15 to $249
$9 to $379
$19.95 to $133
For more information on schools that offer continuing education specific to your state, visit How to Get a Real Estate License and click on your state to see the top schools in your area.
4. Complete Your Education & Submit Paperwork
After you complete your CE coursework, the final step for your real estate license renewal is to submit the necessary paperwork. Though these may vary by state, all real estate sales agents and brokers need to submit the following general requirements:
- CE certificate of completion: Your school may take a few days to a few weeks to process this certificate once you complete your course. Although some states like Michigan do not require you to show a certificate of completion, you must have it on file when you submit your renewal application in the case of an audit.
- Renewal application: Find your state’s application form on its licensing board website. Most states allow you to complete and submit the application online, or you may need to print and mail it.
- Renewal fee: The renewal fee can be paid online or by mail, depending on your state. The costs range from about $32 to $300. Some states charge extra if you do not pay by a preferred method. Renewal fee amounts also differ by state and the type or status of your license.
Check out two examples of state-specific renewal processes below for comparison:
Renewal Process Comparison
Every 3 years
Every 2 years
Additional Forms to Submit
How to Submit Renewal Forms
Mail or online
Online through the ePLACE portal
To view your state’s fees and link to their applications, check out the state-by-state license renewal requirements page.
In case your real estate license expires before completing the renewal requirements, check the renewal process for inactive licenses in your state. Some states like New York will require you to retake the real estate exam and submit an application fee. If your license has been expired for less than three years, some states like Texas will allow you to renew your license by completing the CE credits you missed and paying the late fees.
To keep their real estate license active, agents and brokers need to renew their license by the state’s deadline every mandated cycle. Requirements and time frames vary by state but generally include continuing education (CE) coursework, signed renewal forms, and renewal fees. If you don’t want to be charged late penalties or lose the ability to practice real estate, be sure to know your state-specific requirements before submitting the necessary paperwork.