How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Ohio? [Step-by-Step]

Real Estate Business Sale And Happy Smiling Realtor

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our company, 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 Ohio, all individuals must obtain a salesperson or broker license from the Ohio Division of Real Estate. This is a division of Department of Commerce that licenses sales associates, brokers, and firms which represent others in property transactions. Its role is to ensure the real estate practice upholds the public interest.

To become a real estate agent in Ohio, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, complete 120-hour of pre-license education, pass the real estate salesperson exam, join a managing broker. You also need to submit an application and a fee to the Ohio Division of Real Estate and go through a background check.

As a real estate agent in Ohio, 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 Ohio, 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.

7 Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent in Ohio

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • Citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted alien
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent

Step 2: Complete the pre-licensing education

You are required to take 120 hours of courses, of which must consists of:

  • Real Estate Principles and Practices (40 hours)
  • Ohio Real Estate Law, including instruction in civil rights, housing discrimination and desegregation problems (40 hours)
  • Real Estate Appraisal (20 hours)
  • Real Estate Finance (20 hours)

An interesting note is that after you have completed the courses, you’ll have 10 years to submit the real estate salesperson application and to find a broker to sponsor your license.

But if you are truly serious in starting your real estate career, there’s really no reason to wait that long.

Step 3: Find a sponsoring real estate broker

Work with a Ohio real estate sponsoring broker

To engage in real estate sales activities in Ohio, you must join a real estate brokerage who would sponsor your license.

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.

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? 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.

Here are the top real estate brokerage in Ohio based on their sales volume in 2018. The figures are obtained from

Real Estate BrokeragesCitiesSales Volume in 2018
Sibcy Cline RealtorsCincinnati$2,511,907,164
HER RealtorsGahanna$2,498,286,063
Comey & ShepherdCincinnati$1,400,000,000
Cutler Real EstateCanton$1,166,801,551
Keller Williams Consultants RealtyDublin$1,077,997,737
Keller Williams Advisor's RealtyCincinnati$990,762,907
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional RealtyMason$935,434,144
Coldwell Banker HeritageDayton$908,818,095
Keller Williams Chervenic RealtyStow$746,100,932
Keller Williams Capital Partners RealtyWorthington$707,307,316
The Danberry Co., RealtorsToledo$659,281,399
The Russell Realty Co.Strongsville$634,824,667
Keller Williams Realty Greater ClevelandCleveland$589,088,429

Step 4: Go through a background check

The Ohio 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 a Webcheck user to have their fingerprints taken. You should confirm with the Webcheck user whether they will submit both state and FBI fingerprints to BCI&I as they are mandatory.

  • BCI&I Reason Code: 4735 05 and/or 121 08
  • FBI Reason Code: 121 08

On the day of appointment, be sure to bring along a valid government issued photo ID. You should also remind the Webcheck user to send the result to:

Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing
77 S High St., 20th Fl.
Columbus, OH 43215-6133

I checked with several providers. Their background check fee is around $60 to $80.

Step 5: Submit application to the Ohio Department of Commerce

Before you can write the Ohio Real Estate Salesperson Exam, you must submit the License Examination Application to the Department.

In the application, you need to provide personal information such as your contact info, education level, date of birth, and the broker you will be working with. Your broker also needs to sign off this form.

In addition to the application, you are required to provide a $81 exam fee and official transcripts or completion certificates of the pre-license courses.

Once you have all the documents ready, you can mail it to the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, 77 South High Street, 20th floor, Columbus, OH 43215

Step 6: Pass the Ohio Real Estate Salesperson Examination

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

The Ohio Real Estate Salesperson Exam has 120 questions. The required passing score is 70% and you’ll be given 180 minutes to write it.

Since these are computerized exams, you’ll immediately know your score after writing them. You can find more info about the exam further down this post.

Tip for Passing the Exam: Doing practice questions is one of the best ways to prepare for the real estate exam. It helps you to familiarize with the questions and exam format.

Step 7: Maintain the Ohio real estate salesperson license

You need to renew your real estate license once every three years. The Division will only accept your application within 60 days prior to your license expiry date.

To do so, you’ll have to:

  • Submit the renewal application
  • Pay the $182 renewal fee
  • Provide proof for completion of continuing education

You can do the license renewal online or through mail-in.

What is the continuing education requirement to renew the real estate license?

Within the first year you are required to complete a 20 hours of post licensing classes. Then on the subsequent renewals, you need to complete 30 hours of continuing education courses of which must include the 3 courses in:

  • Civil Rights
  • Core Law
  • Canons of Ethics

For audit purposes, keep in mind you need to maintain the course completion certificates for at least 6 years.

A Quick Table Summary of Becoming a Real Estate Salesperson in Ohio

At least 18 years of age

Have a valid Social Security Number

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

20 hours of post-license courses

30 hours of continuing education every 3 year
3 hours

120 multiple-choice questions

Required passing score is 75%
Pre-licensing courses $999 approximately

Background check $60 to $80

Application exam fee $81

Here’s a Snippet of What Lori James Think about Being a Real Estate Agent!

Lori James, Real Estate Agent

I think being a real estate agent is a good career for self motivated people. You can make your own hours, but you have to plan out your week in advance, so you have a work life balance.

– Lori James, Real Estate Agent at Real Living Real Estate.

Here’s the article where you can read more on Lori’s thoughts about the real estate sales profession. In there, you can also find valuable feedback from multiple professional real estate agents. Don’t miss out!

How long does it take to become a licensed real estate salesperson in Ohio?

It takes approximately four to six months to become a licensed real estate agent in Ohio. But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the 120 hours pre-license course, exam, background check, application, and get sponsorship by an actively licensed Ohio real estate 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 Ohio real estate salesperson license?

It costs approximately $1140 to get the real estate salesperson license in Ohio. Here is the breakdown:

  • Pre-licensing courses approximately $999
  • Exam fee $81
  • Background check $60 to $80

Ohio Real Estate Salesperson Examinations

real estate application

Content of the Real Estate Exams

Each test consists of the national and state portions. The required passing mark for the salesperson exam is 70.

Real Estate Exams Summary

Examination Portion# of ItemsTime AllowedRequired Passing Score
Salesperson-National80 (80 points)120 minutes70%
Salesperson- State40 (40 points)60 minutes70%

National Portion Exams Content Outline

Exam ContentWeighting (Salesperson)
Property ownership8%
Land use controls and regulations5%
Valuation and market analysis 7%
General principles of agency 13%
Property disclosures 6%
Leasing and Property Management 3%
Transfer of Title 8%
Practice of real estate 13%
Real estate calculations10%

State Portion Exams Content Outline

  • State Governance of the Real Estate Profession (4 Items)
  • Licensing Requirements (6 items)
  • License Law and Rules of the Ohio Real Estate Commission (16 items)
  • Brokerage Relationships (Agency Law) (14 items)

Sample Salesperson Exam Questions

To give you a better idea about the real estate exam, below are two sample questions for your reference.

Sample Salesperson Question:

A. Which of the following interests in property is held by a person who is granted a lifetime use of a property that will be transferred to a third party upon the death of the lifetime user?

1. A life estate.

2. A remainder estate.

3. An estate for years.

4. A reversionary estate

B. Which of the following statements BEST identifies the meaning of the term, “rescission of a contract”?

1. A ratification of a contract by all parties.

2. A return of all parties to their condition before the contract was executed.

3. A transfer or assignment of a particular responsibility from one of the parties to another.

4. A review of the contract by the legal counsel of either party that may result in a cancellation without penalty
or further obligation

Sample Questions Quoted from Ohio Real Estate Salesperson and Broker Candidate Information Bulletin

Here are more tips to prepare the real estate exam

Ohio real estate exam tips

Ohio Real Estate Salesperson Exam Summary

Portion# of ItemsPassing ScoreTime Allowed
National8070%120 minutes
State4070%60 minutes
Both12070%180 minutes

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

Yes, the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing has reciprocity agreement with Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Here are the requirements:

  • Resident in one of the above states, while had been an active real estate salesperson for a minimum of one year before the application.
  • Complete an Ohio Real Estate Law Course
  • Have an Ohio real estate broker sponsoring your license
  • Submit the Salesperson Reciprocity Application ($60 fee), Consent to Service of Process form, and a Letter of good standing from state of licensure
  • Pass the Ohio Real Estate Salesperson exam

Is there any pre-licensing education exemption for real estate applicant?

If you have been an active member of the Ohio Bar and has been remained in good standing. Under the real estate license law, you could be exempted from taking the real estate salesperson prerequisite course.

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

An applicant with a felony may not obtain a real estate license if the Ohio Real Estate Commission 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.

On the application, there are questions:

Have you ever been disciplined in any manner by any public entity or professional or trade association for any violation of any professional licensing law, regulation or ethical rule, including the Ohio Division of Real Estate?

Have you ever been refused or denied any professional license or registration by any public entity, including the Ohio Division of Real Estate?

Have you ever had any professional license revoked, suspended or limited in any way for any reason?

Have you ever been notified by any public entity or professional or trade association that you were under investigation for any violation of any professional licensing law, regulation or ethical rule, including the Ohio Division of Real Estate?

Have you ever been the subject of any unsatisfied judgments?

Have you ever been convicted of, plead guilty to or been granted intervention in lieu of conviction for any unlawful conduct excluding minor traffic violations?

Quote from Ohio Salesperson License Examination Application

The Commission will evaluate each case independently. If you answer “Yes” to any of the above questions, they may require you to provide further documents and explanation about the incident.

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.

However, if you believe there could be a discrepancy in the background check report, you may ask for a copy by sending a written request to: FBI’s CJIS Division Attn: Record Request 1000 Custer Hollow Rd. Clarksburg, WV 26306

There is an $18 processing fee.

If there is really any inaccuracy, you may challenge the record by contacting the FBI’s CJIS Division again.

How Much do Real Estate Agent Make in Ohio?

Ohio real estate sales agent annual income distribution

Real estate agents in Ohio earn an average yearly salary of $37,890, typically range between $29,490 and $56,880. High-earning real estate sales agents are making over $83,840 per year(*)

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 business skills, you should be able to notice a significant improvement to your earning.

Your earning potential 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.

There are 6130 real estate agents in Ohio, which works out to be 1.125 real estate agents per 1000 of workers. (*)

(*) Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2019

Here’s an article that goes through important variables that could significantly affect your annual salary.

Which Cities has the Most Real Estate Business Opportunities in Ohio?

Real estate career opportunity

Ohio has a population of over 11 million, which is the 7th most populous state in the U.S.

When you are selecting 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.

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

Cities PopulationHome Value
Canton 69,697$103,500

The median sale price of homes in Ohio is $139,200, with a listing price per square foot of $103. The median monthly rent in Ohio is $1,015.


Ideas to build your real estate career in Ohio

1) Network with other real estate professionals

You may consider joining the Ohio 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.

2) 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 guide on becoming a real estate broker in Ohio.

3) Consider the commercial real estate niche

To become a commercial real estate agent in Ohio, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, complete 120-hour of pre-license education, pass the real estate salesperson exam, join a managing broker. You also need to submit an application and a fee to the Ohio Division of Real Estate and go through a background check.

The Division does 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.

Here’s a Snippet of what Amie Lenhart thinks about being a Commercial Real Estate Agent!

Amie Lenhart, Commercial Real Estate Agent

“… I work as my clients biggest advocate and work on behalf of their best interest. My job is an agent is to research, match needs, know the market, tour, draft LOI’s and Lease Proposals and successfully negotiate for my client meeting their goals and objectives...

… I think being a real estate agent is a great career. I love the hustle and relationship building aspect of this job and working for myself...”

– Amie Lenhart ,Commercial Real Estate Agent with Donald R. Kenney and Company Realty (DRK)

Here’s the article where you can read more on Amie’s thoughts about the real estate sales profession. In there, you can also find valuable feedback from multiple professional real estate agents. Don’t miss out!

I have more questions about the real estate license in Ohio, where can I get help?

The best would be to contact the Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing:

(**) Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. Our company, JCHQ Publishing 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 Ohio Department of Commerce – Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing.


  • Ohio Division of Real Estate (source)
    • Requirements for an Ohio Real Estate Salesperson’s License (source)
  • Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing Real Estate Salesperson and Broker Candidate Information Bulletin (source)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Occupational Employment and Wages- Real Estate Agents (source)
    • Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Ohio (source)
  • Real Trends: 2018 Real Trends 500 by Volume (source)
  • (source)
  • World Population Review- Population of Cities in Ohio (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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