How to Get Your Washington Real Estate License

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Interested in how to get a real estate license in Washington? There are seven basic steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Check the requirements
  2. Sign up for a course
  3. Register with PSI
  4. Pass the licensing exam
  5. Complete a background check
  6. Apply for your license
  7. Join a real estate firm

We’ll go into more detail on each of these steps in a moment, but first, it’s important to understand that there are two different license types in Washington: broker and managing broker. Here’s the difference:

  • Broker: An individual who performs real estate activities for compensation. When you think of a typical real estate agent or salesperson in Washington, that's a broker!
  • Managing Broker: A real estate broker in a supervisory position. To become a managing broker, a licensee must have several years of experience as a full-time broker and must also complete additional education and examinations.

Now that we’ve cleared that up let’s get into the steps needed to become a broker!

Step 1: Check the Requirements

Before you get too far into this process, let’s make sure you qualify! To apply to become a licensed broker in Washington, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a high school graduate or have a GED

Step 2: Sign Up for a Course

Next, you’ll need to sign up for one of the pre-licensing courses approved by the Washington State Department of Licensing. Their website contains a list of approved course providers, along with the requirements to get a license. (Their website is a great resource for a future broker such as yourself, in case you want to bookmark it!) Per their requirements, your pre-licensing coursework will include:

  • 60 hours on Real Estate Fundamentals
  • 30 hours on Real Estate Practices

A Note for Out-Of-State Agents

If you happen to be a licensed real estate agent from a state other than Washington, then there’s a good chance you can apply without taking the required courses. However, before taking the exam you’ll need to submit a certified license history from your current licensing agency. You may also be exempt from taking the national portion of the exam.

Step 3: Register with PSI

Before you complete the required pre-licensing courses you’ll have to register as a student with PSI, the licensing exam proctor. Registering before you finish the course allows your education provider to submit your completion documents so you can schedule the exam.

Step 4: Pass the Licensing Exam

After PSI receives your course completion documents, you’ll be allowed to schedule a time to take the licensing exam. You can schedule the exam online at PSI's Candidate Services.

Step 4: Pass the Licensing Exam

After PSI receives your course completion documents, you’ll be allowed to schedule a time to take the licensing exam. You can schedule the exam online at PSI's Candidate Services.

According to the Washington Candidate Handbook, the exam includes:

  • An examination fee of $210
  • 100 questions that cover national real estate topics
  • 30 questions that cover Washington’s real estate license laws

On exam day you must bring two current forms of I.D., and at least one must have a photograph. You’ll have 3.5 hours to complete both the national and state-specific portions of the exam. If you pass one portion but not the other, you’ll only have to retake the portion that you failed. You only have six months to retake the exam, and you will have to pay the exam fee again.

Step 5: Complete the Background Check

Before applying for a broker's license, the Washington State Department of Licensing wants a thorough account of previous criminal activity. You’ll answer criminal history questions and explain any “yes” answers.

Be honest when you answer the questions. You can still get a real estate license even if you’ve had a past conviction, but you will not make a good case for yourself if you’re dishonest.

Applicants also have to get fingerprinted for a state and national background check. If you’re within Washington, you’ll submit your fingerprints using the electronic IdentoGO system.

Step 6: Apply for Your License

You passed the exam (woohoo!) Next, you’ll receive a notice from the Department of Licensing that gives you the green light to go ahead and apply for your license. You’ve got a whole year after passing the exam to submit that application, but don’t dilly-dally!

When you submit your application online, you will also:

  • Pay the licensing fee ($146.25)
  • Upload documents related to past criminal history (you’ll only need to do this if you answered “yes” to those criminal history questions in step 5).

Step 7: Join a Real Estate Firm

You'll receive an email notification once your license application is approved. However, at this point, your license will be inactive. But don’t panic, this isn’t a bad thing!

Remember our discussion at the beginning about brokers and managing brokers? You must join a real estate firm to have an active broker license. This is because you will need a licensed managing broker to guide you as you start your new career. So, your last step is to join a real estate firm!

And that completes the process, my friend! You may have noticed that becoming a broker isn’t free (alas, few things in life are!). If you’re still on the fence about whether this career is right for you, we have a summary of how much it costs to become a broker.

Here at Aceable, we like to help students ace their exams and feel prepared for their careers in real estate! So, if you’re ready to explore pre-licensing courses, check us out!