From its magnificent mountains to its bustling cities, Washington is an attractive place to live—and an even better place to begin your journey as a real estate professional. But in order to connect residents of the Evergreen State with the properties of their dreams, you’ll need to first get your real estate license.
And that’s where we come in. Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll be launching your career in Washington real estate in no time.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Washington
Let’s dive into these steps in a little more detail. Before long, you’ll be helping clients buy and sell prairie box houses in Seattle, craftsmans in Tacoma, and bungalows in Spokane.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in Washington?
It costs approximately $850 to get your real estate license in Washington, including your prelicensing education. Some of the costs are fixed, such as the state’s licensing and exam fees, and others vary.
While you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate agent in Washington, you must complete the state-specific licensing process. The price of the required 90-hour prelicensing courses (and optional exam prep materials) will vary depending on the provider you choose.
Washington Real Estate License Costs
License Print Fee:
(Washington real estate license costs as of April 2023)
How to Get a Washington Real Estate Agent License in 5 Easy Steps
Before you begin, let’s make sure you’re eligible. Washington requires those wanting to help others sell real estate to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
If you are a licensed attorney, have a degree in real estate, or have a license in another state, you may be able to waive some of your licensing requirements. Visit the Washington State Department of Licensing for education and examination requirements tailored to your specific situation.
Another important item to keep in mind is that what other states call real estate agents or salespeople, the state of Washington refers to as brokers. When you first obtain your real estate license, you will technically be a real estate broker—which is still different from a managing broker.
Ready to learn more about how to become a real estate agent in Washington? Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Complete a Washington Real Estate Prelicensing Course
Prelicensing courses kick off your real estate career, and you’ll have your choice of completing them online or in person. Your choice of course format will depend on your learning style and what suits your schedule best.
The amount of time you’ll need comes down to how much class time you allot per week. You can complete all 90 hours online; those who study at a faster pace will finish in a shorter amount of time. If you approach it like a 40-hour workweek, you could finish in less than three weeks.
Prelicensing courses will often include extra features like exam prep, instructor support, or career resources. Visit The Close’s article on real estate schools in Washington to find the prelicensing course that’s right for you.
The state of Washington breaks the required 90 hours of class time into two courses: the 60-hour Real Estate Fundamentals Course and the 30-hour Real Estate Practices Course. Throughout the process, you’ll learn:
- Property ownership
- Land use controls and regulations
- Valuation and market analysis
- General principles of agency
- Property disclosures
- Leasing and property management
- Transfer of title
- Practice of real estate
- Real estate calculations
You’ll need the help of a highly rated Washington real estate school to get through this weighty material. Most people choose a real estate school based on the cost and the educational format of the course. Here are the most popular options in terms of course design.
Wherever you live in Washington, you should be able to find a real estate school that meets in person during regularly scheduled sessions.
Classes that meet online at scheduled times are usually broadcast over Zoom (or another videoconferencing tool).
Self-paced Online Classes
On-demand real estate classes are extremely popular for those wanting to become real estate agents in Washington quickly. The course material may be presented in a series of slides, videos, and interactive content.
If you’re looking for a self-paced experience, we like Colibri Real Estate’s online platform best. They also happen to be featured on our national roundup of the best online real estate schools.
The Close readers can use exclusive coupon code “Theclose25” to save 25% on tuition at Colibri.
For more options, visit The Close’s article on real estate schools in Washington to find the prelicensing course that’s right for you.
Important note: In Washington, you have to register as a student with a PSI/AMP testing vendor before completing your coursework. This is so your school can submit your course completion information electronically and let the testing vendor know you’ve met the basic requirements needed to take the real estate exam.
2. Complete a Background Check
We recommend scheduling your fingerprinting appointment as soon as you start the broker course, as the fingerprinting and background check can take 10 to 14 days. Washington residents should schedule an appointment online through IdentoGO, a third-party site that conducts background checks. The fee for the service is $44.80. For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website.
3. Schedule & Pass the Washington State Real Estate Exam
Time to Complete:
Computer-based, 130 questions
Bring to the Testing Center:
Two forms of identification, including one current government-issued photo ID that includes your signature
Once you have completed your prelicensing education, your school must submit your course completions to PSI electronically to complete your registration. After your school submits your education, you can schedule your exam online or by phone at 855-746-8168. Potential licensees must complete this education within two years before the licensing exam. The cost of the exam is $210.
PSI/AMP administers the Washington real estate exam. The exam is an in-person, proctored test administered via computer. The exam consists of two parts that review state and national real estate laws. There are 130 multiple-choice questions altogether: 100 questions in the national portion and 30 questions in the state portion. You will have 3.5 hours to complete the entire exam.
A passing score for the Washington Real Estate Broker Examination is 70 questions correct out of 100 for the national section and 21 correct answers out of 30 for the state portion, or a scaled score of 70. The rate at which testers pass the exam is 70%; it is purposefully difficult, but not impossible. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake the exam, though you are required to pay the $210 exam fee each time.
You should arrive 30 minutes early at the testing site. The Washington Real Estate Candidate Handbook outlines the types of government-issued identification they’ll accept. There’s also a lengthy list of items you’re prohibited from bringing to the exam room (including common items like calculators, pens, and cell phones).
Testing sites for the Washington real estate exam are located in the following cities:
- East Wenatchee
After you have completed the broker examination, you will be instructed to report to the testing proctor to receive your score report. Your score report will show the result for your examination and will give scoring information for any portion you did not pass.
You must pass both the state and national exams within six months of each other or retake both exams. These approvals are good until your education expires. This happens two years from the date you complete the oldest exam.
Again, you can take the exam as many times as you’d like within one year following the date on which you sent in your original exam application, but you will have to pay $210 each time. You must apply for your license within one year of passing the exams.
4. Select a Sponsoring Broker
Washington requires that you work under a managing broker after passing the real estate broker exam. Think of them as a supervisor who’s received additional training, worked in the industry for at least two years, and passed the managing broker’s license exam.
Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis
Finding a managing broker to work under will feel like applying for a job. Once you’ve landed some broker interviews, you’ll want to ask each broker about the split (or how you and the brokerage will divide sales commissions). You’ll find that some brokerages will ask for a 50-50 split on commissions. Usually, companies that offer an even split will not charge monthly desk fees.
As you evaluate your options, remember that, as a commissioned salesperson, your income entirely depends on your abilities and effort. Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions, a ratio that may rise to 100% after you’ve met a specific sales goal (or cap) for the year.
It’s important to be realistic about your earning potential in the first few months. It takes time to launch your new business. Some new agents choose to work part time so they can still bring in additional revenue as they’re learning the ropes. And if your brokerage does charge fees, you’ll have to pay them regardless of whether you’re closing deals or not.
Here are some questions to consider during your broker search:
- What is their reputation, both locally and nationally?
- What kind of real estate agents are they looking for?
- Are they technologically advanced and up to date with the latest systems?
- How do they support their agents with education and training?
- What kind of commission structure do they offer?
- Do they offer benefits?
- Do they provide agents with leads and marketing material?
- Is there room to grow with the brokerage?
While you’re not required to have a sponsoring broker at the moment you submit your application, it’s better to do so. Otherwise, you’ll pay an additional $10 fee.
5. Complete the License Application
The final step is, thankfully, a simple one. With all the above tasks completed, apply for that hard-earned broker license. This license allows you to handle real estate transactions, including buying and selling properties, as well as managing the rental process. You can find the application for this license on the Washington State Department of Licensing website.
Upon receiving notification that your passing exam results are on file, submit your documentation and pay your $223 fee online. After you get your license, a firm can invite you to join them to activate your license. You must log in to accept their invitation, at which point you will be recognized as a real estate broker in the state of Washington.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Washington: FAQs
Still not sure about the path forward? Get answers to common questions about how to become a real estate broker in Washington below.
Is the Washington real estate exam hard?
The passing rate for the Washington Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 70%, meaning that more than a quarter of the people who take it do not pass. Be sure to pay attention during your prelicensing course and take studying seriously. If you put in the proper effort, you should pass on your first attempt. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay another $210 to take the test again.
What if I have a real estate license from another state?
If you’re already licensed in another state, you can check out our state-by-state guide on license reciprocity to help you get started on the process. You may be exempt from some of the requirements of obtaining a license in Washington.
In Washington, there are three conditions for getting licensed through reciprocity: You must meet the state’s age and education requirements, have been actively licensed in another state for the previous six months, and apply and be approved for the applicable licensing exam.
Washington offers a license by reciprocity once you pass the portion of the exam covering Washington real estate law, clear a fingerprint-based criminal background check, and provide an official License History from the state where you’re licensed.
Visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website for more information on applying for a license by reciprocity.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Washington?
Realistically, it takes most people four to six months to obtain a real estate license in Washington.
How long it takes you to get your license depends on how long you take to complete your prelicensing course and study for the license exam. Administrative tasks like applying for your license or fulfilling your background check don’t end up taking much time.
Most prospective real estate brokers are working while they fulfill their prelicensing requirements, so it can take time to complete the 90-hour prelicensing course. Depending on your self-study skills, though, you can finish the course quicker. But we recommend taking the time you need to properly understand the concepts and study for your license exam.
Can I get my Washington real estate license online?
Do real estate agents make good money in Washington?
According to ZipRecruiter, real estate agents make an average of $79,233 in Washington.
Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the area and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you’ve spent in your profession.
Other significant details you should consider are brokerage fees and commissions. Usually, this is a fixed percentage between you and your brokerage. Commission is shared between you and your broker based on a negotiated ratio that will be fully outlined in your contract. While this may differ based on several factors, a common commission split is 70% to the agent and 30% to the broker.
What are the pros & cons of becoming a real estate agent in Washington?
More Career Resources From The Close
Licensed agents can get a steady stream of career help by subscribing to our newsletter. You’ll get the latest news, actionable real estate strategy, and insight from (and for) the world’s best real estate agents.