From its 19-story state capitol building to the world’s largest hamburger (weighing in at 3,591 pounds and consumed by more than 8,000 people in 1982), North Dakota is full of surprises, making it a great place to begin your journey as a real estate professional. But in order to connect residents of the Peace Garden 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 seven easy steps and you’ll be launching your career in North Dakota real estate in no time.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in North Dakota

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in North Dakota
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Complete a 90-hour Prelicensing Course
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Submit a North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson Application
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Complete a Background Check
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Schedule & Pass the North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson Exam
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Obtain Errors & Omissions Insurance
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Find a Sponsoring Broker to Hire You
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Complete the Licensing Process

Let’s dive into these steps in a little more detail. Before long, you’ll be helping clients buy and sell ranch style houses in Bismarck, bungalows in Fargo, and Cape Cod houses in Grand Forks.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in North Dakota?

It costs approximately $1,000 to get your real estate license in North Dakota, 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 North Dakota, you must complete the state-specific licensing process. The price of the required 90-hour prelicensing course (and optional exam prep materials) will vary depending on the provider you choose.

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Quick Facts

Prelicensing Course:



License Application:

$158 ($150 license fee + $8 credit check fee)


Exam Registration:



Exam Retake:



Background Check/Fingerprinting:



Errors & Omissions Insurance:



Recovery Fund:



Total Costs:


(North Dakota real estate license costs as of October 2023)

How to Get a North Dakota Real Estate License in 7 Easy Steps

Determining Your Eligibility

Before you begin, let’s make sure you’re eligible. North Dakota requires those seeking a real estate sales associate designation to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent 
  • Possess a good reputation for competency, honesty, truthfulness, financial integrity and fair dealing

Regarding that last point, applicants who worry their background may disqualify them from obtaining a real estate license should consider submitting an application through the North Dakota Real Estate Commission (NDREC) prior to taking their prelicensing education course.

What If You’re Already Licensed in Another State?

If you are a licensed attorney or have a degree in real estate, you may be able to waive some of your licensing requirements. 

North Dakota offers full reciprocity with three states: Georgia, Iowa, and Minnesota. This means agents already licensed in these states can qualify for licensure by submitting an application, application of issuance, Consent to Suit form, and passing the state portion of the North Dakota real estate exam to earn their North Dakota license.

If you are both licensed and live primarily in Georgia, Iowa, or Minnesota and want a North Dakota real estate license, see application instructions under the “General” and “Salesperson” tabs to learn more.

Related Article
Real Estate License Reciprocity & Portability: A State-by-State Guide

Ready to learn more about how to become a real estate agent in North Dakota? Here are the steps you’ll need to follow.

1. Complete a 90-hour Prelicensing Course

  • Cost: $600-$800
  • Time commitment: 3-6 weeks

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 under three weeks. 

Prelicensing courses will often include extra features like exam prep, instructor support, or career resources, so it’s important to weigh these add-ons as you shop for providers. You can find a list of state-approved schools here.

Regardless of the school you choose, the state of North Dakota requires 90 hours of coursework before sitting for the licensing exam. You’ll learn:

  • Agency relationships and contracts
  • Real property ownership and interest
  • Finance
  • Marketing regulations (purchase and rental)
  • Property management
  • Real estate calculations
  • Duties and powers of the real estate commission
  • Licensing requirements
  • Statutory requirements governing the activities of licensees
  • Statutory requirements governing subdivided or out-of-state land sales
  • Real estate education, research and recovery fund

You’ll need the help of a highly rated North Dakota 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.

If you’re looking for an at-your-own-pace option, we recommend The CE Shop. It’s one of our favorite national providers, and the 90-hour course package starts at $769.

Check Out The CE Shop

After you have completed your coursework, you must pass the course’s final exam. This non-proctored course exam will test your newfound knowledge of real estate law and real estate principles. Once you’ve passed, you will receive a certificate of completion via email.

2. Submit a North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson Application

  • Cost: $178
  • Time commitment: 2-3 weeks

After you’ve completed the prelicensing course, you’ll have to submit a real estate license application. Unlike many other states, North Dakota requires that licensees submit an application and pay the requisite fees before scheduling and passing the North Dakota Salesperson Exam. 

You must use the NDREC Online Services Portal to submit your application online, as the state no longer accepts paper applications. You can either upload a scan of your completed application or complete the application directly on the portal. The application fee is $158, which includes an $8 credit report check charge. You can submit payment through the “Pay Bill” portal by debit or credit card. 

To make sure that you are eligible for a real estate license in North Dakota, you’ll need to complete the Criminal History Record Check Request form together with the Salesperson License Application. This form authorizes the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation to release your state and FBI criminal history records to the commission for review.

3. Complete a Background Check

  • Cost: $41.25
  • Time commitment: 1-2 weeks

Once your initial application is received, you’ll receive a fingerprint kit in the mail. This includes:

  • Instructions
  • Two fingerprint cards
  • List of locations offering fingerprinting
  • Fingerprint verification form 
  • Return envelope
  • Tamper-proof seal

Upon getting fingerprinted, you will need to mail the following back to NDREC:

  • Completed fingerprinting cards
  • Check or money order for $41.25 made out to the ND Attorney General

Submitting your fingerprints will begin the background check process. The North Dakota Real Estate Commission will review any findings in your background report to ensure your eligibility. During this process, they may reach out to you to obtain additional information or documentation to clear up any findings.

4. Schedule & Pass the North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson Exam

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Quick Facts




Time to Complete:

3.5 hours



Computer-based, 140 questions


Bring to the Testing Center:

Two forms of identification, including one current government-issued photo ID with signature


Passing Grade:

70% for national portion, 75% for state portion

Once NDREC clears your eligibility, you will be emailed a code that will allow you to schedule the national and state portions of the North Dakota real estate exam with PSI, the company that administers the exam. The cost of the exam is $131.

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How to Study for the Real Estate Exam: Tips & Strategies

The North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson 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 140 multiple-choice questions altogether: 100 questions in the national portion and 40 additional questions in the state portion. You will have 210 minutes, or 3.5 hours, to complete the entire exam. 

A passing score translates to 70 questions right out of 100 for the national section and 30 correct answers out of 40 for the state portion. 

Testing sites for the North Dakota real estate exam are located in Bismarck and Fargo. You should arrive 30 minutes early at the testing site and bring two forms of identification with you, including one current government-issued photo ID that includes your signature. PSI’s 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 hats, pens and cell phones).

The rate at which testers pass the North Dakota Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 61%. If you fail both portions of the salesperson examination, your score report will include instructions on how to reapply. However, if you only fail one section, you will only be required to retake the portion you failed. If you don’t pass within 12 months of your first attempt, you’ll be required to submit a new application and repay licensing fees to NDREC.

5. Obtain Errors & Omissions Insurance

  • Cost: $16-$187
  • Time commitment: 1 day

All active licensees in North Dakota are mandated to carry errors and omissions insurance. This is also known as professional liability insurance. It typically protects brokerages and individual agents from getting sued by a client if they made a mistake related to a real estate transaction. It’ll cover the legal, defense, and court costs related to a claim.

You can use any insurance agency to find the E&O policy that works for you, so it’s best to take some time and research your options. You may also want to check with your sponsoring broker to see if you are covered under a firm policy at the brokerage. 

The NDREC works closely with Rice Insurance Services Company to provide affordable options, but make sure to check with your principal broker to verify their firm requirements for coverage. In the case of Rice, the current annual premium is between $16 and $187.

6. Find a Sponsoring Broker to Hire You

  • Cost: Free
  • Time commitment: 1-2 weeks

To hold an active real estate license in North Dakota, you must affiliate your license with a sponsoring brokerage. A broker has received additional training, worked in the industry for at least two years, and passed the broker’s license exam. 

Related Article
Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis

Finding a broker to work under will feel like applying for a job. 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?

As mentioned above, you must be employed or under contract with a sponsoring broker to activate your license. Your supervising brokerage must sign your application to confirm your affiliation with their company.

Compensation Questions

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, brokerages 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.

7. Complete the Licensing Process

  • Cost: $20
  • Time commitment: 1-2 weeks

With all the above tasks completed, it’s time to prepare your materials to apply for that hard-earned salesperson license. This license allows you to handle real estate transactions, including buying and selling properties, as well as managing the rental process.

The final request for licensure in North Dakota includes:

  • E&O insurance document
  • Certificate of completed prelicensing education
  • State and national exam score results from PSI
  • Signature and sign-off from your sponsoring broker on the application
  • $20 recovery fund fee payment

Once NDREC processes these documents, it will issue you an active North Dakota salesperson license. You will receive a confirmation email once your application is submitted. In most cases, application review should take from one to two weeks. Upon successful application review by the NDREC, you will be recognized as a North Dakota real estate salesperson. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in North Dakota: FAQs

Still not sure about the path forward? Get answers to common questions about how to become a real estate agent in North Dakota below.

More Career Resources From The Close

Now that you’ve learned how to get your real estate license in North Dakota, you’re likely to have more questions. Luckily, The Close is here to answer them for you.

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