How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License in Pennsylvania?
This article explains how much time you need to invest in getting a real estate license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
We list down the process and the time frame for each step, so you can get a better understanding of the time commitment involved.
So, how many hours do you need to get your real estate license in Pennsylvania? Let’s walk through the steps one by one.
Put In the Education Hours: 2-3 Weeks (Full Time)
Like other jurisdictions, Pennsylvania requires that you meet the pre-licensing education prerequisite.
You need to clock in a total of 75 hours to complete your courses, which you earn by taking two Commission-approved courses. You can take these courses at any of the accredited real estate schools in Pennsylvania.
One is a 30-hour fundamentals course. The other is 45 hours covering real estate practice in the state.
If you’re highly motivated, treat studying like a workweek, and take the courses online, it’s possible to finish them both in a couple of weeks.
If an in-person classroom better fits your learning style, you can still work through the courses in about three weeks with a full-time, fast-track program.
Weekend or night school will take about five to ten weeks. College courses run an entire quarter or semester (10-15 weeks).
Know the best method for you by reading our article comparing real estate classes vs. classroom courses.
There are exceptions to this requirement. Your prior schoolwork may substitute for pre-licensing education if you have a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school or a bachelor’s degree in real estate.
An approved pre-licensing course from another state could also suffice. In either of these cases, you might get to skip this step and reduce the time it takes to get your license.
Obtain a Background Check: 3 Days to 2+ Weeks
Applicants wanting to become real estate agents in Pennsylvania must undergo a background check to get a real estate license in Pennsylvania.
A typical response time by mail is about two weeks, but it can take four weeks or longer. It usually takes up to three days to receive the background check report online.
Completing this step may take days to weeks longer if you’ve lived outside of Pennsylvania during the five years before submitting your application.
If so, you must get background checks from each state where you’ve resided.
Or, you can provide a background report from your home state, and an FBI Identity History Summary Check in place of the individual reports.
To obtain an FBI report, you’ll have to submit fingerprints. The processing time for this ranges from 3-5 days to 2-4 weeks, based on whether the request is made electronically or by mail.
Also, note that the Pennsylvania background report is only valid for 90 days. So, keep this timing in mind as you go through the steps in the process.
Should you have a past conviction on your record, read our tips for applying for a Pennsylvania real estate license with criminal record.
Study for the Licensing Exam: 1-2 Weeks
It’s a good idea to take some time to do a refresher even if you finish the pre-licensing courses in a few weeks and plan to take the exam shortly after that.
If a month or more passes before you sit for the exam, it’s essential to spend time studying to ensure that you’re ready.
How long should you study for the real estate exam? There’s no magic number of hours.
However, if you give yourself a week or two to go back over your coursework, review your notes, and take practice tests, you can see how confident you feel and adjust your study schedule accordingly.
If you’re eager to get the exam behind you, there are a couple of ways to cut down study time without sacrificing effectiveness. One is to take a prep course.
The material is aligned with what’s on the exam and organized by topics to make reviewing faster and easier.
Plus, you can use tracking tools to get a handle on where you need to spend more time on and where you don’t.
You can also use the content outline included in the information bulletin for the exam as a study guide. It tells you what topics you’ll be tested on and how many questions you’ll see for each.
So, you can proportionally allocate your time versus trying to painstakingly study everything.
Additionally, we have tips that can help you pass the real estate exam the first time.
Register and Sit for the Exam: 1 Day
You qualify to take the exam as soon as you’ve met the pre-licensing education requirement. You’ll need an appointment, and the fastest scheduling process is booking a reservation at PSI’s registration website.
PSI is the company that administers the test.
You can set up an account in a matter of minutes, pick an exam date and time, and indicate how you’ll take the test.
You have the choice of taking it in person at a PSI test center. Or, you can pick the remote delivery option with live online proctoring. Pay the $49 fee, and you’re all set.
For other licensing fees to keep in mind, read our guide on the cost of a real estate license in PA.
On exam day, reserve a half-day for the test. That breaks down as follows:
- Arriving at the test center or launching the online exam 30 minutes ahead of your appointment time to allow for check-in
- Two hours to complete the national portion of the exam, which has 80 questions
- One hour to answer 40 questions in the state-specific section
If your exam appointment is in person at a test center, you’ll also have to allow for travel time, including a buffer to ensure on-time arrival.
Ideally, you’ll earn a passing score of 75 percent on each portion of the exam on your first attempt so that you don’t have to take it a second time.
You’ll know if you passed or failed as soon as you finish the test. Your score will be displayed on the computer screen.
Read our article providing information on the PA real estate exam pass rate and other particulars about the test.
Sign Up With a Brokerage of Your Choosing: 1-2 Weeks
You can wait until after you pass the exam to start searching for a broker to sponsor you or work on this step along the way.
Keep in mind that you cannot apply for a license until a broker has agreed to supervise you.
So, the sooner you choose a brokerage, the better for shortening your timeline to become a licensed salesperson in Pennsylvania.
Whenever you decide to complete this step, don’t shortchange the process. Set aside time over several days to research brokerages and look at the pros and cons.
After you’ve narrowed the list to a few you may want to work for, allow at least a week to interview them.
Know what’s important to you and identify things that are deal-breakers. Use both to evaluate your options.
Picking a broker is a major decision as a new agent. There are vast differences between brokerages, and your first years in the profession are crucial.
Your broker can significantly impact the speed and trajectory of your budding career.
If you could use some pointers on the most effective way to make this choice, read our article on choosing the right broker to work for.
It covers everything, from the basics of brokerage types to the essential factors to consider in identifying the right fit for you as a newbie agent.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the type of broker you want, you can find one on our list of the best real estate brokerages in Pennsylvania.
Apply and Wait to be Approved: 2+ Weeks
After you’ve lined up your broker and completed all the other steps, you can apply for your license. You do this online through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS).
You can upload all required paperwork right through the portal. You can refer to the application checklist to cross-reference, which summarizes the requirements and documents you need to accomplish and submit.
If you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, you can complete the application in relatively short order.
Most of the time in this step will be spent waiting for your application to be processed and approved. The Commission lays out three phases associated with this.
The first phase involves an initial status determination that is made by Commission staff. It may be an approval or a notification that your application is incomplete. About 1-2 weeks is the estimated timeframe.
Phase two applies if you need to respond to the Commission regarding missing documents or other application requirements. The time interval associated with this is also 1-2 weeks.
The third phase measures the time between the Commission receiving a complete application and issuance of your license. That typically takes a week or less.
While waiting for your license application to be approved, you can prepare yourself by reading about what it’s like to have a real estate agent job as a career.
Once your application is approved, your license is issued. The Commission will mail a paper copy to your broker’s main office.
Besides getting your license in Pennsylvania, it also takes time to become a successful real estate salesperson.
Know what to do after you get your real estate license to map out the way to build your real estate business.
Also, consider joining a real estate team where you can come across established agents who can give you valuable insight about the business.
It’s designed to help you get more exposure for your business, including receiving leads. Create a free profile by signing up here.
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About the Author
Kristina Morales is a REALTOR® with over 20 years of professional experience. She actively practices real estate in Ohio but also has practiced real estate in California and Texas. Conducting her real estate business in three states has allowed her to gain unique experiences that make her a well-rounded realtor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and her MBA with a concentration in Banking and Finance. Prior to real estate, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking and treasury. She ended her finance career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX.