The Cost of Getting A Real Estate License Vs Going to College

Summary: Depending on what college you attend, tuition can cost anywhere from $13,00 to $60,000 a year and it can take 2-6 years on average to get a degree. Depending on your state, getting a real estate license will cost you between $600-$1300 and take approximately 2-6 months.

You’ve probably watched TV shows about home makeovers, flipping houses, and buying and selling properties. You’ve thought, “Maybe one day, I can start my career in the real estate industry!” But perhaps you are also thinking about going to college as your next step. After all, it's considered a valuable education that could lead to other professional occupations. If you’re debating whether to enter real estate or pursue a college degree, read on to learn about the costs and time involved.

Costs of Getting a Real Estate License

Having a career in the real estate industry can come with many rewards, but the first step is to get a real estate license. Costs vary from state to state, but here's what you can expect:

National Average Costs For Pre-Licensing Courses & Fees:

Cost #1: Pre-license real estate courses: $400 to $1,000

Cost #2: Exam fees: $60 to $80

Cost #3: Licensing fees: $100 to $170

Cost #4: Fingerprinting and background check: $40 to $50

Total Costs: $600 to $1,300

As you can see, the total costs to obtain a real estate license can range between $600 and $1,300.

Cost of Doing Business as a Real Estate Agent

Once you become a realtor, you’ll need to budget for ongoing yearly expenses, which may include:

  • National Association of REALTORS® (NAR): $156 at the national level, $200 to $400 for the state/local levels

  • Continuing education courses: $100 to $300

  • Brokers’ fee: $300 to $2,400

  • Marketing materials (business cards and websites): Starting at $200 to $1,000

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Costs of Getting a College Degree

Average Cost of Getting a College Degree vs Real Estate license

The costs of a college degree will depend on the state, whether it's a public or private school, the field of study, and the duration of the program. The following scenarios show the average charges for full-time undergraduates in 2023-24:

Public Two-Year In-District

Tuition and Fees: $3,990

Room and Board: $9,970

2023-24 Total: $13,960

Public Four-Year In-State

Tuition and Fees: $11,260

Room and Board: $12,770

2023-24 Total: $24,030

Public Four-Year Out-of-State

Tuition and Fees: $29,150

Room and Board: $12,770

2023-24 Total: $41,920

Private Nonprofit Four-Year

Tuition and Fees: $41,540

Room and Board: $14,650

2023-24 Total: $56,190

With all of these numbers in mind, you can see that finishing four years of college will be expensive — as much as $200,000 at a private institution.

Time Required to Get a Real Estate License

The time it takes to get a real estate license depends on whether you’ll take an in-person or online pre-license course. You’ll need to complete this course to prepare for your exam. If you’re looking to fast-track the program, taking it online allows you to go at your own pace, whereas an in-person course will take an entire semester to complete. An in-person classroom course can take four to six months to complete. In contrast, an online course can be completed as fast as eight weeks.

Another important factor is the state where you’re obtaining your license. Each state has its own educational requirements and timelines for processing applications. For example, Michigan requires only 40 hours of education, whereas California requires 135 course hours. Once you complete your required hours, your application can take weeks or months to be processed.

Once your application is approved, you’ll need to prep for your exams, which can take several weeks to months. If you put in the hours to study and pass your national and state exams, you could get your real estate license in several months.

Time Required to Get a College Degree

Most college programs generally range between two to four years. You’ll need to complete your program and pass your exams to obtain a college degree. Investing several years into your college education requires making sacrifices. For instance, when you’re studying in school, you’re losing out on these precious years to earn income.

Average Time of Getting A College Degree vs Real Estate License

Plus, if you’re living away from home, you’ll need to consider if you’ll be able to cope with being separated from your family and friends for extended periods of time (and maybe it’s a good reason if you desire to be independent!).

Is It Worth It To Get Into Real Estate?

The time and costs it takes to get a real estate license are typically faster and more affordable than a college degree. For those who are looking for flexibility and control over their schedule, this could be a viable option. Although there’s no guarantee of success with real estate, with hard work and dedication, you have the potential to earn a six-figure income in real estate.

If you pursue a college education, you will most likely need to obtain student loans or have a part-time job or internship to cover your daily living costs. Plus, the debt you carry after college could take years to pay off. As such, you’ll want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of getting a college degree versus a real estate license.


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Choosing the Path to a Prosperous Career

Of course, whether you get a real estate license or a college degree comes down to personal choice. Either way, obtaining the necessary educational credentials to pursue your dream job will take time, effort, and money. Finding your passions and developing a plan to turn them into a profitable profession will help you succeed in the long run.

Are you interested in launching your career in real estate? Get started with the pre-licensing course with Aceable.