How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois? (income| license| FAQ)


How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our website, JCHQ Publishing will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.

To engage in the real estate practice in Illinois, all individuals must obtain a broker or managing broker license from the Illinois Division of Real Estate. This Division is part of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and it regulates licensees to ensure the real estate practice upholds the public interest.

To become a real estate agent in Illinois, an applicant must:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Complete the 75 hours of pre-licensing education;
  • Pass the real estate broker exam;
  • Join a managing broker;
  • Submit an application and a $125 fee to the Illinois Division of Real Estate;
  • Go through background check;
  • Complete the CE and license renewal requirement

Most other states have the “salesperson” license, but in Illinois, it is called the “broker” license.

To avoid confusion, when I mention real estate agent/broker in this article, I’m really referring to the entry associate. For the ones who recruit and run a real estate office, I will refer to them as “Managing Broker.”

As a real estate agent in Illinois, your role is to work with clients to buy or sell the right property according to their needs. You would be responsible for showing the property, bringing potential buyers to house tours, and handling the purchase and sale agreement.

Some agents may also help clients in searching for a rental property or lease out their units.

In this guide, you’ll find out the steps to become a real estate agent in Illinois, income updates, career outlook and FAQ about this profession.

But before we start, I want to give a brief disclaimer. This post is not intended as legal advice or state/federal real estate training. It is for general information only. Please always follow your State laws and best practices.

When choosing a real estate school, I prefer one where you could take the courses online. This way, you could study at your own pace whenever and wherever. RealEstateExpress is a trustworthy real estate education provider. You may click here to see whether they offer pre-licensing course in your state. (**)

8 Steps Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois 

Requirement to get a real estate broker license in Illinois

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent

Step 2: Complete the Pre-Licensing Education

You will need to take 75 hours of pre-license broker education from a school approved by the Illinois Division of Real Estate.

The curriculum consists of three parts, which includes:

  • 60 hours of Real Estate Topics (parts 1 and 2);
  • 15 hours of Applied Real Estate Principles (part 3)

15 hours of the courses are required to consist of situational and case studies. They can be presented in a classroom or, interactive webinar or online distance education.

Step 3: Pass the Illinois Real Estate Broker Examination

writing real estate Illinois exam

This examination is to test your knowledge and understanding of real estate law, principle and practices, and mathematics.

The Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam has 140 questions. The required passing score is 75 and you’ll be given 3.5 hours to write it.

Since these are computerized exams, you’ll immediately know your score after writing them. You only have four attempts to pass the exam. But this should be good enough if you have seriously prepare for it.

You can find more info about the exam further down this post.

[Read: How to Pass a Real Estate Exam on the First Try?]

Step 4: Join a Real Estate Managing Broker

The next step is to work with a real estate managing brokerage who would sponsor your license. But don’t rush into working for just any broker.

Finding a good mentor is crucial at the initial stage of your real estate career. A thoughtful and experienced trainer could teach you a repeatable and systematic process in running your business profitably.

I will also include a list out the top real estate brokerages in Illinois in this guide.

Step 5: Register with the Illinois Division of Real Estate

After you pass the exam, you will be provided with a score report and instructions to apply for the real estate license. You could register your license through the IDFPR Online services Portal. There is a $125 application fee.

Screen shot of the IDFPR website. This is to apply for the real estate license in Illinois
Screen shot of the IDFPR website

Step 6: Go through a background check

The Illinois Real Estate Division needs to protect the public interest, so they will conduct a background check on all real estate license applicants.

To do so, you will schedule an appointment with an approved vendor and submit fingerprints. Then the Illinois State Police will send the results to the Department.

Furthermore, you no longer required to submit a physical copy of the live scan receipt. You just need to enter the 16 digit Transaction Control Number (TCN) on the fingerprint receipt.

I just checked with a vendor and their fee is $60.

Keep in mind that the fingerprints must be taken within 60 days from the date that you send the application to the Department.

Step 7: Complete the Post-License Course 

To enhance your real estate knowledge, you need to complete 45 hours of post-license education. The curriculum would include:

  • Applied brokerage principles (15 hours), 
  • Risk management/discipline (15 hours) 
  • Transactional issues (15 hours) 

You are also required to take a one-hour sexual harassment prevention training.

Step 8: Maintain the Real Estate Broker License

Completing real estate broker post-license requirement in Illinois

You need to renew your real estate broker license every two years. It happens in even-numbered years.

You may do so approximately 90 days prior to the renewal deadline at the Online License Renewal Portal. The Department will email you the renewal details.

In addition to the renewal application, you must complete 12 hours of approved continuing education courses, which includes:

  • 4 hours of Core CE
  • 8 hours of Elective CE (1 hour must be the Sexual Harassment Prevention Training)

The renewal fee is $150 and can be paid with a credit card.

A Quick Table Summary of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Illinois

EligibilityEducationExamFees
At least 21 years of age

Have a valid Social Security Number

Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
75 hours of pre-license courses



45 hours of post-license courses

12 hours of continuing education every 2 year
3.5 hours

140 multiple-choice questions

Required passing score is 75
Pre-licensing courses with exam prep approximately $415

Exam fee $55

Background check $60

Application fee $125

Here’s a Snippet of What Dina Hurtado Think about Being a Real Estate Agent!

Dina Hurtado, Real Estate Agent

“Being an agent has its pros and cons. It’s a flexible schedule. I love being outdoors enjoying Mother Nature. You get to know a lot of interesting people. It’s very satisfying to see a new home owner or seller happy with the outcome. Cons are you are never off the clock.

One advice I would give to new real estate agents is to have patience. You’ll need lots of patience and be mentally strong, take criticism well. Don’t take a bad day experience home to your family. Be yourself, clients appreciate.”

Dina Hurtado, Real Estate Agent at Compass

Here’s a post where you can read more on Dina’s thoughts about the real estate sales profession. In there, you can also find valuable feedback from multiple professional real estate agents. Be sure to check it out!

Here is more info on the Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam

How to register for the real estate exam?

After you complete all the pre-licensing courses, you can register for the exam at goAMP.com. There is an exam fee of $55, which can be paid with your credit card.

What is covered in the exam?

The broker exam consists of two parts, which is the National Portion and State Portion.

The National Portion has 100 questions. Below are the topics:

  1. Agency Relationships and Contracts (28 questions)
  2. Real Property Ownership/Interest (13 questions)
  3. Finance (14 questions)
  4. Real Property (14 questions)
  5. Marketing Regulations (purchase and rental) (10 questions)
  6. Property Management (8 questions)
  7. Real Estate Calculations (13 questions)

The State Portion has 40 multiple-choice questions. It consists:

  1. Licensing Requirement (10 questions)
  2. Law and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice (20 questions)
  3. Disclosures (10 questions)

Broker Examination Sample Questions

1. Baird bought two rectangular lots, each of which
measures 244′ x 250′. Approximately how many
total acres will be in the two lots combined?
A. 2.8
B. 3.2
C. 5.6
D. 7.0

2. A person has been using a property for a long time.
That person’s rights have been determined to
supersede those of the fee simple owner. This
is called which of the following?
A. escheat
B. homestead
C. eminent domain
D. adverse possession

Quote from Illinois Real Estate Examination Program Candidate Handbook

RealEstateExpress is an online school that I like. They offer pre-licensing courses and also have excellent exam prep materials. Their programs have a “Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee” in most of the states. That’s how confident they are. You may click here to view their courses. (**)

How long does it take to become a licensed real estate agent in Illinois?

Finding out the time it takes to become a licensed real estate agent in Illinois

It takes approximately four to six months to become a licensed real estate agent in Illinois. But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the 75 hours pre-licensing course, exam, background check, application, and get sponsorship by an actively licensed Illinois managing broker.

You may speed up in getting the real estate license by taking online courses. This way, you’ll have the flexibility to finish the pre-licensing education at a quicker pace.

How much does it cost to get a Illinois real estate broker license?

It costs approximately $655 to get the real estate license in Illinois. Here is the breakdown:

  • Pre-licensing courses with exam prep is approximately $415
  • Exam fee $55
  • Background check $60
  • Application fee $125

Is there any pre-licensing education exemption?

Yes, if you are at least 21 years old and admitted to practice law by the Illinois Supreme Court, then the pre-license education requirement may be waived.

Keep in mind that you need to obtain prior approval before writing the real estate exam.

I have a real estate license in another state. Can I become licensed in Illinois by applying through reciprocity?

Yes, you can apply for an Illinois real estate broker license through reciprocity. You must be at least 21 years old, and your current active license is in a state that has a reciprocal agreement with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. These include:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • Wisconsin

Also, you need to pass the Illinois portion of the real estate exam. There is a fee of $125 for a Broker and $150 for Managing Broker. Here’s the application form for your reference.

Can you become a real estate agent with a felony in Illinois?

An applicant with a felony may not obtain a real estate license if the Illinois Division of Real Estate determines that the offense is too severe. They would typically be more alarmed on incidents that impact the applicant’s honesty, trustworthiness, character, and integrity.

What is the nature of the crime? Does it have anything to do with the honesty, truthfulness, and reputation of the applicant? Is the applicant currently under probation or parole? All these are factors that may affect a real estate license application.

The Department will evaluate each case independently. They may also require you to provide further documents and explanation about the incident.

According to the Department, more than 95% of applicants in the real estate professions with a conviction have obtained a license. And they had accurately disclosed their conviction on the application.

So don’t get discouraged as everyone has a past. The most important is that you can demonstrate that you will serve the public in a fair, honest, and open manner.

Here’s another post that covers how to apply for a real estate license with a felony record. In there, you’ll find practical ideas which could help your application.

How Much do Real Estate Agent Make in Illinois?

How Much do Real Estate Agent Make in Illinois?

Real estate agents in Illinois make an average annual income of $42,130, it typically falls between $19,740 and $46,260. Top earning sales agent are making $80,900 per year. (+)

You earning as a real estate agent would depend on the price range of the properties that you work with, the number of transactions you could complete, the commission splitting schedule with the real estate brokerage and other factors.

At the beginning phase in your real estate career, you probably would not make a lot, because you built up the client base and established trust with the prospects.

But as you continue to gain experience and sharpen your knowledge, you should be able to notice a significant improvement to your earning.

[Read: Real Estate Agent Salary Guide – What Makes a 6 Figures Earner?]

(+) Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019)

Is there a demand for real estate agents in Illinois?

Illinois has nearly 13 million people and is the sixth most populous state. Whenever there are transactions in buying, selling or renting property, there is always a demand for real estate agents in Illinois.

Currently, there are 1810 real estate agents in Illinois, which works out to be 0.916 real estate agents per 1000 of workers. (*)

(*) Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2019

Practical ideas to build a real estate career in Illinois

Real Estate Agent Showing Prospective Female Buyer Around Property

Tip#1: Select an area with demand for sales agents

When you are deciding the regions to conduct your real estate business, you should target areas that have a high population. After all, transactions can only occur when there are people.

Also, consider working on properties that have decent value, as this is one of the major factors when calculating your commission. According to Zillow Home Value Index, the median home value in Illinois is $219,806.

Median Home Prices of the Top 10 Highest Population Cities in Illinois

CitiesPopulationMedian Home Price
Chicago2,679,044$278,600
Aurora202,709$180,100
Joliet149,645$157,800
Naperville147,905$367,300
Rockford145,338$93,800
Springfield113,471$124,400
Elgin112,843$215,300
Peoria111,706$110,000
Champaign89,622$145,400
Waukegan87,678$136,400

Source: Zillow.com (July 31, 2019)

Tip#2: Choose the right real estate mentor

Real estate brokerage support

When choosing a real estate brokerage, many people only focus on the commission split, but there are many other factors you also need to consider.

For example, what type of training will they provide? Will they equip you with the skills in finding qualify prospects and closing a sale? Is there a shared office space you could use? Can the brokerage provide you with adequate administrative and marketing support? Will they provide you with leads to work on? Do they utilize up-to-date technology (i.e.: CRM, software subscription) to streamline the daily workflow.

All these would be extremely important especially at the beginning phase of your career.

Below are the top real estate brokerage in Illinois based on their sales volume in 2018. The figures are obtained from RealTrends.com.

Real Estate BrokeragesCities2018 Sales Volume
@propertiesChicago$9,056,208,681
Baird & WarnerChicago$5,758,357,420
Coldwell Banker The Real Estate GroupShorewood$3,205,779,545
Jameson Sotheby's International RealtyChicago$1,570,283,012
Keller Williams Realty NapervilleNaperville$1,312,167,004

RE/MAX Suburban
Mount Prospect$1,164,014,481
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real EstatePalatine$879,877,165
Keller Williams Preferred RealtyOrland Park$822,958,935
RE/MAX 10Oak Lawn$575,038,158

Tip#3: Network with other real estate professionals

You may consider joining the Illinois REALTORS. This allows you to connect with other real estate salespeople and brokers, thus learn from their valuable experience and share ideas with one another. 

In addition, you should build a referral network with other real estate professionals. such as mortgage agents, lenders, notary loan signing agents, and appraisers.

Here’s a list real estate professional groups on our resource page. Hope this will be useful to you.

Tip#4: Become a licensed real estate broker

Once you have established a solid client base and develop the necessary skills, then you could consider expanding your business to become a real estate broker.

This allows you to build a team of real estate agents, where your brokerage could be providing training, marketing, administrative support, office space, and a subscription to industry software.

In return, you would get a share of the commission from the transactions that your real estate sales associates handle. Thus, lead to a scalable business model. 

Here’s a post on how to become a real estate broker in Illinois.

Tip#5: Consider the commercial real estate niche

To become a commercial real estate agent in Illinois, you need to complete 75 hours of pre-licensing education and pass the real estate broker exam, and register with the Illinois Division of Real Estate.

The Real Estate Commission do not issue separate licenses for residential and commercial agents. So, the requirement is basically the same one we just went through.

Furthermore, if you are going to pursue a career as a CRE agent, you should look for a brokerage that could give you the right support and resources. After all, not every brokerage specializes in commercial properties.

Here’s the “Complete Guide to a Commercial Real Estate Agent Career“, where I cover the career outlook, earning potential, and valuable feedback from CRE agents. Be sure to check it out.

Is Commercial Real Estate Agent a Good Career? – Here’s a Snippet of a CRE Agent’s Response

Gueorgui Chikov, Commercial Real Estate Agent

“As a CRE agent I work with all clients on the landlord, tenant, seller and buyer sides. I help these clients find space or lease/sell space/buildings. I try to focus mostly on office properties with an emphasis on sales rather than leasing. It has been about 2.5 years since I stared at NAI Bergman...

…. It is a great career for me because I am passionate about real estate. It is rewarding helping people and companies with their needs. That being said it is a very hard field to get into and stay in. If you’re not passionate, committed and patient, you will not stay long.

I think the biggest one – Network! If you do not know anyone, you will not do any deals. This is a relationship business, and with that comes being patience, being committed and consistent. You need to be able to do all of these…”

Gueorgui Chikov. Commercial Real Estate Agent at NAI Bergman

I have more questions about the real estate license, whom should I contact?

You could contact the Illinois Division of Real Estate. Below are their contact info:

  • Phone Numbers: All Inquiries: 1-888-473-4858
  • Professional Licensing: 1-800-560-6420
  • TTY: 1-866-325-4949
  • [email protected] – General Real Estate Questions
  • [email protected] – Questions about/from Real Estate Pre-License, Continuing Education, Provider, Instructor, Courses

They also have two office locations:

  • Springfield Office: Division of Real Estate, 320 West Washington Street Springfield, IL 62786
  • Chicago Office: Division of Real Estate, 100 West Randolph, 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601

A Video Summary on Obtaining a Real Estate License in Illinois

If you are reading up to this point, I bet you must be interested in getting a real estate license. Your first step is to complete the pre-licensing courses. You should select one that has an excellent reputation and long-term track record of satisfying students. RealEstateExpress is exactly that! You may click here to check it out yourself. (**)

(**) Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. Our website, RealEstateCareerHQ.com, will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking on the link. Please understand that we include them based on our experience or the research on these companies or products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through the links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. For full and exact details, please contact the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR), Division of Real Estate.

Reference:

  • Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) (source)
  • Illinois Real Estate Examination Program Candidate Handbook (source)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Occupational Employment and Wages- Real Estate Agents (source)
    • Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Illinois (source)
  • Real Trends: 2018 Real Trends 500 by Volume (source)
  • Zillow.com – Illinois Home Prices & Values (source)
  • World Population Review- Population of Cities in Illinois (source)

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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