Are you considering a career change and wondering how to become a real estate agent in Illinois? There’s no time like the present to get started! Within six months, you could be launching a highly flexible new career with great earning potential as a real estate salesperson (known as a broker) in Illinois. The process is quite simple, and we’ll walk you through it, step by step.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois

Infographic: How to become a real estate agent in Illinois

Before we discuss how to become a real estate agent in Illinois, it’s important to note that in Illinois, real estate agents are referred to as brokers. Meanwhile, brokers with additional experience and education who are qualified to oversee other brokers in Illinois are referred to as managing brokers.

To become a real estate broker in Illinois, you must be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

1. Complete a 75-hour Prelicensing Course

Cost: $330-$600
Time Commitment: 
1-2 months

As a real estate broker, you’re responsible for helping your clients with one of the most important financial decisions of their lives. In Illinois, you must complete a 75-hour prelicensing course to understand the complexities and legal matters pertaining to the sale of property.

See our “Choosing an Illinois Real Estate School” section for a complete list of topics covered in Illinois prelicensing courses. We highly recommend Colibri Real Estate because they’re affordable and highly rated.

You can save 25% on your Illinois real estate prelicensing courses with Colibri Real Estate when you use the promo code TheClose25 at checkout.

They’re our top pick on our list of the best Illinois real estate schools for several reasons. They’ve created successful online real estate education programs for dozens of states and they’re a trusted industry leader. Their courses are attractive, informative, and interactive. 

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2. Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam

Infographic - Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam

Cost: $58
Time Commitment:  3.5 hours (arrive 30 minutes early)

Congratulations! You’ve finished your prelicensing course, and you’re ready to take the Illinois broker exam. You have two years to take the broker exam from the time you complete your prelicensing courses.

You’ll be able to schedule your broker license exam online through PSI Testing Service. You’ll have the choice of taking your broker exam at one of PSI’s 31 Illinois testing locations.

The broker exam is computer-based and consists of 100 national real estate questions and 40 state-related questions. You’ll receive your score report from the testing supervisor after completing the exam. You must pass both the national and state portions of the exam with a 75%.

Bring two valid forms of identification to the testing center and you can bring a non-programmable calculator with no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities into the exam room.

To prepare for your exam, consider purchasing quality exam prep material from an Illinois real estate school. Exam prep packages offer helpful tools like flashcards and simulated exams to help you study. We recommend checking out Colibri Real Estate. Many of their courses include practice exams, flashcards, and they even offer a pass guarantee.

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3. Join an Illinois Real Estate Brokerage

Cost: No cost
Time Commitment: 2-4 weeks

In Illinois, beginning real estate brokers must work under a managing broker. A managing broker is someone who has worked successfully in the industry, taken 60 hours of additional training, and passed Illinois’ managing broker’s exam.

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The reward of commissioned sales is that if you work hard and provide excellent customer service to your clients, you can have amazing earning potential and build on your successes. Some people entering the profession choose to go part-time at first and maintain a steady salary in some other part-time pursuit.

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Can You Be a Part-time Real Estate Agent?

4. Complete the Licensing Process Online

Cost: $125
Time Commitment: 2-6 weeks

You passed the broker license exam and found a managing broker to work under, you’re ready to apply for your broker license. You can start the application on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) website.

You’ll need to create an account, fill out the application form, and pay the $125 fee. You’ll be notified via email when your application has been approved. While you wait, Illinois allows you to practice under the supervision of the managing broker for 45 days while your application is being processed.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?

It costs about $650 to get your Illinois real estate broker license. Some of the costs involved are fixed, including the application fee and exam fee. Some of these costs depend on the real estate school you choose to complete the required 75-hour prelicensing course.

Illinois Real Estate License Costs

Prelicensing Classes (75 hours)$339 (through Colibri Real Estate)
Exam Prep Materials$125 (through The CE Shop)
Illinois Broker Examination Fee$58
Application Fee for Broker License$125
Total Costs$647

(Illinois Real Estate Broker License Cost as of April 2022)

Save 25% on the cost of your prelicensing course through Colibri Real Estate when you use the coupon code TheClose25.

Illinois Real Estate Agent Compensation

Once you’ve decided which companies to reach out to, ask the managing broker about your split, or how you and the brokerage will divide the commissions you earn. Some brokerages will ask for a 50/50 split on commissions. Usually, managing brokers that offer an even split will not charge monthly desk fees.

Other real estate companies may allow you to keep between 70% and 100% of your commissions. However, those brokerages will often charge higher monthly desk fees. Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions until you reach a cap, which means you’ll receive 100% of your commissions for the rest of the year after earning the pre-specified amount.

As a new real estate broker, finding the right balance between commissions and desk fees may be tricky. Keep in mind that real estate brokerages do not offer any payment to their agents, so these negotiations with the managing broker are essential. Negotiating a lower cap for yourself will mean you’ll be able to put more of your earned commissions into your own pocket.

Choosing an Illinois Real Estate School

Whether you live in Peoria, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, or the Chicagoland area, you’ll have your choice of class formats. Your classes will cover the following topics:

  • License law
  • Real property
  • Structure of agency
  • Seller relationships and counseling
  • Buyer relationships and counseling
  • Illinois law
  • Federal laws
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Real estate transactions
  • Financing
  • Contract knowledge
  • Independent contractor and employee agreements
  • Property management

Many Illinois real estate schools also offer self-paced, online classes with slides, videos, and interactive content to help you learn the required material to pass the Illinois broker exam.

You should be able to find an Illinois real estate school that offers in-person classes that meet during regularly scheduled sessions. Livestream classes are scheduled classes that are broadcast over Zoom (or another video communication tool). Check out the pros and cons of all three to see which type of instruction is right for you.

Types of Instruction
In-person Classes
  • Traditional classroom setting

  • Get to know other students

  • Easy access to the instructor
  • More expensive than online classes

  • Commuting and traffic

  • Finding class times to fit your schedule
Livestream Classes
  • No commute

  • Ideal if you live far from in-person schools

  • You can ask instructors questions in real time
  • Finding classes to fit your schedule

  • No interaction with other students

  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should
Online Classes
  • Work at your own pace anywhere with internet

  • Take classes when convenient for you

  • Least expensive option
  • Instructors can only be accessed via email or phone

  • Little interaction with real estate pros

  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should

We recommend Colibri Real Estate as our top pick for best online real estate school in Illinois. They have a long-standing reputation for quality instruction so the material is easy to understand. You’ll also appreciate Colibri Real Estate’ competitive pricing and exam prep materials.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois – FAQs

We’re sure you have plenty of questions about becoming an Illinois real estate agent. We’ve answered your questions below, and we welcome you to ask more in the comment section.

More Career Resources From The Close

We hope our helpful guide has made getting your Illinois real estate license manageable and that you feel energized to start your new career. We’re here to celebrate every milestone in your real estate career.

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