Provisional Broker vs. Broker vs. Broker-in-charge: What's the difference?

You have likely heard the terms “provisional broker”, “broker”, and “broker-in-charge” in North Carolina real estate, but what’s the difference? While they may seem similar, these designations have very different requirements and responsibilities.

Provisional Broker

In short, a provisional broker in North Carolina is the term for an entry-level real estate licensee. In order to be licensed as a provisional broker, an individual must have gone through the following steps to becomes licensed:

  1. Completed a state-approved 75-hour North Carolina broker pre-licensing course.

  2. Passed the state pre-licensing exam

  3. Were determined to be of good moral character by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC).

  4. Registered under a broker-in-charge.

With a provisional broker license, an individual can perform all the same acts as a regular broker  (a broker who has "graduated" from provisional status…more on that in a moment), as long as they are supervised by a broker-in-charge.

Under supervision from a broker-in-charge, a provisional broker can:

  • List real estate for sale or rent

  • Represent sellers or buyers of real estate

  • Lease or rent (or offer to lease/rent) real estate

  • Conduct a real estate auction (an auctioneer’s license is also required)

  • Sell, buy, lease, assign, or exchange any interest in real estate in connection with the sale or purchase of a business

  • Refer a party to a real estate licensee, if done for compensation

However, a licensee cannot stay a provisional broker forever. Within 18 months of their initial licensure, a provisional broker must complete the required post licensing education in order to become a fully-fledged real estate broker.


In North Carolina, a broker is one step above provisional broker. A broker has completed their required post licensing education and has some experience gained while being supervised as a provisional broker. 

In order to become a broker, a provisional broker must take 90 hours of post licensing education within 18 months of receiving their license. These 90 hours are comprised of three 30-hour courses:

  • Broker Relationships and Responsibilities

  • Contracts and Closing

  • License Law, Committee Rules, and Legal Concepts.

Once this education is completed, NCREC will issue a licensee their upgraded broker license.

Technically, a broker does not need to be supervised any longer by a broker-in-charge in order to hold an active license and practice real estate. A broker can participate in all of the same real estate activities as a provisional broker, but can now do so unsupervised. However, many choose to stay affiliated and work for a broker-in-charge at a real estate firm. 


The top tier of brokers in North Carolina is the broker-in-charge, otherwise known as a BIC. As the name suggests, a broker-in-charge is the head broker at a real estate brokerage who is in charge of supervising provisional brokers. They are also responsible for fulfilling other supervisory and administrative duties as prescribed by NCREC. 

In order to receive the broker-in-charge status on their license, a broker must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold an active broker's license (not provisional status)

  • Have two years of full-time brokerage experience or four years of part-time brokerage experience within the previous five years

  • Completed a 12-hour broker-in-charge course no earlier than one year prior or 120 days after their designation as BIC

In North Carolina, each real estate brokerage must have a designated broker-in-charge who has met all of these requirements. 

Ready to get started on your journey to becoming a North Carolina real estate broker? Get started with the Aceable  Pre-License Course today!

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Anna Coucke

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