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 in Illinois. The process is quite simple, and we’ll walk you through it step by step.

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois
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Complete a 75-hour Prelicensing Course
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Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam
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Join an Illinois Real Estate Brokerage
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Complete the Licensing Process Online

Before we discuss how to become a real estate agent in Illinois, it’s important to note that here, real estate agents are referred to as brokers. But in many other areas, a broker is someone with additional experience and education who manages agents and real estate deals. In Illinois, these supervisors are referred to as managing brokers.

Wondering if getting your license is the right move? Check out this e-book from Colibri Real Estate to learn more about making the switch.

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. Now, let’s break the process of getting your real estate license in Illinois down into steps.

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, which is why education is so important. The 75-hour prelicensing course required by the state of Illinois helps you understand the complexities and legal matters pertaining to the sale of property. 

Your classes will cover the following topics:

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

While that’s a great deal of information to cover, keep in mind that your prelicensing classes don’t necessarily cover test preparation. 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 and flashcards, and they even offer a pass guarantee.

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2. Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam

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Quick Facts




Time to Complete:

4 hours



Computer-based, 140 multiple-choice questions


Bring to the Testing Center:

Two valid forms of ID


Passing Grade:


Cost: $58
Time Commitment:  4 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 Services. 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 answer 75% of the national and state questions correctly on the exam in order to pass.

Bring two valid forms of identification to the testing center. You’re also allowed to bring a non-programmable calculator—with no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities—into the exam room.

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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 be sponsored by a managing broker. You can either ask a managing broker to sponsor you, or the managing broker can invite licensees to join their firm through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website

When considering which brokerage to affiliate with, you’ll want to consider the company culture, commission structure, and support systems to make sure it’s a good fit.

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But if you’re more interested in a leadership role, you should know that a real estate professional must take 45 hours of additional training and pass Illinois’ managing broker’s exam to become a managing broker.

4. Complete the Licensing Process Online

Cost: $125
Time Commitment: 2-6 weeks

Congrats! You passed the license exam and found a managing broker to work under. Now you’re ready to apply for your broker license. You can start the application on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation 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. However, Illinois allows you to practice under the supervision of a 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 $660 to get your Illinois real estate broker license. Some of the costs involved are fixed, including the application exam fees. Other outlays, such as the tuition at the real estate school you choose for your prelicensing course, will vary.

Illinois Real Estate License Costs Example

Prelicensing Classes (75 hours) $339 (through Colibri Real Estate)
Exam Prep Materials $135 (through The CE Shop)
Illinois Broker Examination Fee $58
Application Fee for Broker License $125
Total Costs $657

(Illinois real estate broker license cost as of March 2023)

Save 30% on the cost of your prelicensing course through Colibri Real Estate when you use the coupon code TheClose30.

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. 

Many Illinois real estate schools also offer self-paced, online classes with slides, videos, and interactive content to help you learn the required material and 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 the 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’s competitive pricing and exam prep materials.

Illinois Real Estate Agent Compensation

In terms of your future earnings, those will vary depending on the brokerage you affiliate with. As a new real estate broker, finding the right balance between commissions and desk fees may be tricky. Keep in mind that most real estate brokerages do not offer any flat-rate payment or salary to their agents, so these negotiations with the managing broker are essential. 

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 fees. 

Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions until you reach a cap, which means after that point, you’ll receive 100% of your commissions for the rest of the year. Negotiating a lower cap for yourself will mean you’ll be able to put more of your hard-earned commissions into your own pocket.

Curious how much an agent or broker makes in a year? Colibri surveyed thousands of real estate professionals, compiling the data for a comprehensive report that gives this kind of deep insight into the industry. If you want to understand your income potential, click on Colibri’s report below to learn all the secrets of the trade. The future is bright and the numbers are there to prove it.

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. To get more actionable strategies directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter. And don’t forget to check out our Real Estate Agents Mastermind group to get advice from fellow agents and brokers.