All Illinois real estate professionals who represent buyers and sellers are titled as brokers. To earn an Illinois real estate license, you must fulfill prelicensing education requirements, pass the broker exam, choose a managing broker, and complete a license application. Once licensed, brokers must take a 30-hour post-license course before their first license renewal.
When you’re ready to take real estate prelicensing courses, enroll at Real Estate Express. Not only is it the leading online real estate school for Illinois, but its offerings range from the required prelicensing course to continuing education classes that give you everything you need for a strong real estate career. Click here to get started.
1. Determine License Requirements
Real estate professionals in Illinois are licensed as either managing brokers or brokers, who practice under the oversight of a managing broker. To get a real estate license in Illinois, you must complete 90 hours of prelicensing courses, including 75 hours of online classes and 15 hours of interactive, webinar, or classroom-based classes. Applicants must also meet education requirements, complete fingerprinting, and pay a $55 exam fee and $125 licensing fee.
To obtain a real estate broker’s license in Illinois, you must meet these requirements:
- Age: In general, applicants must be 21 years of age or older. Alternatively, you may also apply if you are 18 or older and can provide evidence of successful completion of at least four semesters of post-secondary study as a full-time student with major emphasis on real estate courses.
- Education: If you are 21 or older, you need to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Applicants who are 18 to 21 years of age must meet post-secondary course requirements from a school approved by the state of Illinois.
- Prelicensing courses: Applicants must take 90 hours of real estate education in several subject areas, including real property law, contract law, and real estate appraisal.
- Fingerprinting and background check: Applicants must submit their fingerprints through an approved vendor.
- Fees: Applicants must pay a $55 exam fee and a $125 license fee.
Consider Reciprocity & Portability for Real Estate License
Illinois has reciprocity with several states, which means a real estate agent licensed in some other U.S. state is able to practice real estate without applying for an Illinois license. However, Illinois is a physical location state, which means that out-of-state agents who want to conduct Illinois real estate business must do so remotely and they cannot enter the state for real estate-transaction related reasons.
To read more about the eight states that have a real estate license reciprocity with Illinois, read our real estate license reciprocity and portability guide. If you do not currently have a license in any state, you must complete pre-licensing education.
2. Complete Pre-licensing Coursework
To get a real estate license in Illinois, you will need to complete 90 hours of real estate pre-licensing education, like what is required by many states to get your license. Required coursework is divided into 75 hours of online content—covering subjects like real estate appraisal, real estate law, and fair housing—and 15 hours of classroom or live webinar-based classes focused on practice-oriented subjects like fair housing and listing presentation.
The 75 hours of broker licensing courses include:
- Real property and the law
- Real estate agency and brokerage
- Interests in real estate
- Forms of real estate ownership
- Legal descriptions
- Real estate taxes and other liens
- Real estate contracts
- Transfer of title and recording
- Illinois real estate license law
- Real estate financing principles and practices
- Leases and property management
- Real estate appraisal
- Land-use controls and property development
- Fair housing and ethical practices
- Environmental issues and the real estate transaction
- Closing the real estate transaction
The 15 hours of practice-related courses include:
- Listing presentation
- Disclosure and fraud
- Fair housing and discrimination
- Personal assistant and administrative services
- Distressed property and working with professionals outside of the brokerage
- Presenting offers and counteroffers
- Case studies and exercises
The real estate licensing exam covers a broad range of topics, so it’s best to master exam material before registering for an exam date. To find the right prelicensing education program for you, review our best online real estate education providers and enroll in the school that suits your needs.
3. Register for the Real Estate Licensing Exam
After completing the required pre-licensing courses, register for the exam through the PSI/AMP website. This process requires you to submit a registration form, fingerprint record, and exam fee of $55. Fingerprints must be obtained through a state-approved vendor. After you complete your registration, you’ll be able to schedule your exam. Keep in mind that you can’t sign up to take the test less than two days before the exam date.
For a copy of the exam registration form, visit the Illinois Candidate Handbook.
4. Familiarize Yourself With the Broker Exam
The Illinois real estate broker license exam includes a total of 140 multiple-choice questions that are broken up into two major sections: Illinois-specific and national portions. Questions from both portions are intermixed and there is a 3.5-hour time limit on the broker exam.
Illinois-specific Content Categories
There are a total of 40 Illinois-specific questions on the exam. Half of these relate to real estate practice law and regulation (20 questions). The other half covers licensing requirements (10 questions) and disclosures (10 questions). Keep these topics in mind as you prepare for the exam.
National Content Categories
In addition to state-specific real estate questions, the licensing exam includes questions that cover seven national real estate content areas. There are a total of 100 national questions on the exam. Twenty-eight of the questions are about agency relationships and contract law. Additional subjects include real property law, finance, and marketing regulations.
Review these topics from the national portion of the licensing exam:
- Agency relationships and contracts (28 questions)
- Finance (14 questions)
- Real property (14 questions)
- Real property ownership and interest (13 questions)
- Real estate calculations (13 questions)
- Marketing regulations (10 questions)
- Property management (8 questions)
For a more in-depth outline of the subjects covered on the real estate salesperson exam, visit the Illinois Division of Real Estate.
5. Prepare for the Licensing Exam
To get your Illinois real estate license, you’ll have to learn a large amount of information, and, unlike the rules in some states, you can only retake the exam three times. Therefore, it’s vital to study well and use the tools available.
While it is possible to prepare for the real estate exam on your own, it is a good idea to sign up with an exam prep service because these providers offer tools like practice tests to help ensure you pass the exam on the first try. For the most effective exam prep solution, we recommend Real Estate Express’ Exam Prep Master. This top-notch, affordable program is so successful that if you don’t pass your exam on the first try, you get your money back. Click here to get started.
6. Take & Pass the Licensing Exam
The Illinois real estate licensing exam is offered by computer only, typically Monday through Friday, and prospective brokers must make an appointment to take the exam. Appointment starting times may vary by location, but you should always arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin.
Make sure you bring all necessary documents and materials, like identification, fingerprint cards, and a calculator. In Illinois, test-takers must also provide biometric identity verification. You are not permitted to bring personal items, food, drinks, study materials, or electronics.
After you take the exam, report to the test center supervisor, who will provide a copy of your score report. If you pass the exam, you will simply be notified that you passed and no score will be provided. If you do not pass the national portion of the exam, you will receive diagnostic scoring information.
While ideally, you earn a passing score for both the state-specific content as well as the national portion of the exam at the same time, don’t fret if you only pass one half on the first try. Test-takers who only pass one portion of the exam have one year from the test date to retake and pass the remaining half.
7. Choose an Agency or Brokerage
Brokers-to-be who have passed the licensing exam must work under the oversight of a managing broker before submitting a license application. To do so, applicants must secure the sponsorship of a managing broker. Choosing a sponsor can be a difficult decision; consider the advantages of staying in the market, the characteristics of the brokerage you want to work for, and how successful your desired brokerage has been.
According to Real Trends, some of the top real estate companies in major Illinois markets include:
Sales Volume (2018)
To make your choice a little bit easier, check out our in-depth guide to choosing the right agency. Once you choose a managing broker, you will be able to submit your completed license application and your managing broker can issue you a sponsor card, which enables you to practice without a license for 45 days.
8. Complete Your License Application
Once you pass the exam, you’ll receive information on how to complete your license application. Fill in all necessary information and submit it, along with your managing broker sponsor card and $125, to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation through their online portal. After submitting these materials, you can practice without a license under the supervision of your managing broker for 45 days while your application is processed.
9. Meet Post-licensing & Continuing Education Requirements
Illinois requires new brokers to complete 30 hours of post-licensing education prior to renewing their license for the first time. This consists of 15 hours of online coursework covering license law; local, state, and federal laws; agency; and real estate transactions. The remaining 15 hours are offered in a classroom or in a live, interactive webinar and cover practice-oriented topics; this includes a certain number of interactive team projects, demonstrations, and role play.
For subsequent license renewals, brokers must take 12 hours of approved continuing education courses every two years. Courses may be completed online or through self-study and include six core credits covering fair housing, agency, license law, escrow, and a course called “Creating the Transaction.” Six elective credits cover topics like ethical practice and managing risk. After studying, brokers must pass a proctored exam to demonstrate mastery of course material.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does it cost to get a real estate license in Illinois?
It costs $180 to get a real estate license in Illinois. The Illinois broker exam costs $55 and aspiring brokers must also pay a $125 license application fee. In addition, applicants must take 90 hours of prelicensing courses, which cost $500 on average.
How much do real estate agents make in Illinois?
According to Indeed, an average real estate broker in Illinois earns a yearly salary of $65,480. However, a broker’s salary depends on the number of transactions they complete, the commissions paid to their brokerage, and how commissions are split as part of the transaction. Check out our guide for more general information about real estate agent salaries.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Illinois?
On average, it can take between five weeks and six or more months to get a real estate license in Illinois. Though it depends on your course and study plan, it can take up to six months to meet the education requirements alone (although this time period can be reduced to several weeks). It takes the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Division of Real Estate approximately 45 days to process applications.
What are the requirements to get a real estate license?
Aspiring real estate brokers in Illinois must take prelicensing education courses, undergo fingerprinting, and register for and pass the licensing exam. After passing the exam, aspiring brokers must identify a sponsoring managing broker and submit a license application. While the application is being processed, an applicant can engage in the practice of real estate under the supervision of their managing broker for 45 days.
Bottom Line: Real Estate License for Illinois
To earn a real estate broker’s license in Illinois, applicants must complete prelicensing education requirements, register for and pass the licensing exam, and find a sponsoring brokerage. After meeting these requirements, complete and submit your license application and start practicing real estate. Once you’re a licensed broker, stay on top of the continuing education credits necessary to keep your license active.
Whether you need to meet prelicensing course requirements or have already completed your coursework and want to start preparing for the exam, check out Real Estate Express. The platform offers a broad range of courses to meet your prelicensing education needs and CE coursework for professional development after you’ve received your license. Click here to get started.