How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Massachusetts

Wondering how to get a real estate license in Massachusetts? This post covers everything you need to know about getting your real estate license in MA! (Updated for 2020)

Ian Henchy

Ian Henchy


Wondering how to get your real estate license in Massachusetts? Interested in starting a career in real estate, but can't figure out what the Massachusetts real estate license requirements are? Wonder no more! This article will go over how to become a real estate agent in Massachusetts.

The steps to become a real estate agent in Massachusetts

Not interested in all of the details? Here's a quick summary. The steps to get your MA real estate salesperson license and become a real estate agent are:

  1. Be at least 18 years old, and have a social security number.

  2. Take the 40 hour Massachusetts real estate course.

  3. Apply to take the real estate license exam using your course completion certificate.

  4. Schedule your test date.

  5. Pass the Massachusetts real estate test.

  6. Pay $150 for your license. You get your license on the spot when you pass the test.

  7. That's it, you've got your Massachusetts real estate license. Go sell some real estate!

Brokers will also need to have at least 3 years of work experience as a licensed Massachusetts salesperson, and be bonded for $5,000.

Now that you know the steps to get your real estate license, let's talk in depth about what you'll need to get licensed, what each step entails, and what it's going to cost.

Wait a minute, salesperson license? Broker license? What?

You might be wondering what we mean when we say salespersons and brokers. There are two kinds of real estate licenses in Massachusetts: salesperson licenses, and broker licenses. Every new realtor starts out as a salesperson, and can eventually get their broker's license if they want. Or not. It's totally optional, and not something everyone does.

This post goes more into depth about the differences between brokers and salespersons if you'd like to learn more about the two different licenses.

What are the basic requirements to get a MA real estate license?

Good question - let's go over the requirements to get a real estate license in Massachusetts. There are only two basic MA real estate agent requirements:

  1. Be over the age of 18. You must be at least 18 years old to get your real estate license in Massachusetts.

  2. Have a social security number. Massachusetts real estate license requirements mandate that candidates must have a social security number (though you don't have to be a Massachusetts, or even US, resident).

What are the steps to get my Massachusetts Real Estate License?

With the basic requirements covered, let's get to the good stuff: how to get a real estate license in MA. We covered these briefly above, but here are the 3 steps to get your MA real estate license:

  1. Take the 40 hour pre-licensing class at a Massachusetts real estate school (that's us!). The State of Massachusetts requires that all real estate license candidates take real estate classes in MA before sitting for the real estate license exam. You'll get a certificate at the end of your course that proves that you took the real state course at an approved real estate school, and lets you take the license test. The course must be 40 hours long, and can be taken either online or in person.

    How does the real estate class work? What's the schedule like? Well, it depends on the school. At Freedom Trail Realty School, we offer flexible online classes for becoming a realtor, that are available both on demand, and as live webinar day classes, night classes, and weekend classes. No matter what class schedule you choose we'll cover everything you need to know to pass the test and become a real estate agent. Everything is done online, and you have plenty of time to take your class and learn the material at your own pace. Other schools offer in person classes, most often on nights and weekends, or as multi-day intensive crash courses.

    The first part of the 40 hour real estate course is focused on teaching you the material you need to pass the real estate test and start a career as a real estate agent. After each lecture you'll take loads of diagnostic quizzes to check comprehension and progress all along the way (don't get too stressed out, though - you'll answer them privately so that you will never feel singled out or embarrassed for not understanding a concept). Online classes are supplemented with activities, occasional guest speakers, and quiz games to break up the lectures. There is plenty of time for questions and answers built into the 40 hour class, and student interaction and participation are very much encouraged!

    After you make it through the material about how to become a realtor, your last few hours of class will be focused on test preparation and practical knowledge so that you can identify and address any problem areas before you finish up the class, and prepare for your new career as a real estate agent. And of course, questions are always welcome after class if you still need some help on something: we hold regular online office hours if you need some extra support, offer private online tutoring, and have support staff available online to answer quick questions by chat.

    Oh, and one last thing: don't make the mistake of thinking that taking the class alone will guarantee getting a real estate license! You definitely need to take some time to study the material covered in the course to be sure that you pass the real estate test. In particular, reviewing the math covered in the course is really important for most people. The math itself is super basic (and there's only about 10 math questions on the exam total!), but it often requires test-takers to re-learn concepts that they haven't thought about since seventh or eighth grade. We have a custom study program that we recommend all of our students follow, and most reputable schools will have something similar to make sure that you're ready for test day.

    We offer the 40 hour pre-license class online on a rotate schedule, and you can learn more and sign up for them here.

  2. Pass the Massachusetts Real Estate Exam. Ok, enough about the classes! After you finish your real estate license classes, you'll be eligible to register for and take the Massachusetts real estate exam. The real estate exam is the most important step for becoming a real estate agent in MA, since you need to pass the license exam to become an agent.

    The MA real estate exam is 120 questions broken down into two sections: the National section (80 questions), and the Massachusetts real estate law section (40 questions). You need to score at least a 70% on *each* section to pass. If you don't pass one section, you'll retake only that section, not the whole exam. You have two years from the date you finish the 40 hour course to take and pass your real estate exam, so you have plenty of time to study and prepare.

    The real estate exam is administered by PSI Exams, who oversee all license exams in Massachusetts. After you finish the course, you'll apply with them to take the real estate test. They'll run a background check, confirm that you've completed the full 40 hour course, and let you sign up for a test date at one of their testing centers. Typically you can get an exam date within a few days of your application being approved. PSI offers the exam on most weekdays and weekends, and they have testing centers in Boston, Lawrence, Auburn, Fall River, and West Springfield.

    Wondering how test day works? Here's what to expect:

    When you show up at the testing facility you'll check in at the front desk. They'll take your photo (this will be on your license, so look good!), and bring you into the testing room, and sit you down at a computer to take your test.

    The real estate test is all multiple choice, and you can review your answers before finishing. You can take breaks during the test to use the restroom, but keep in mind that you have four hours to finish the test, and any breaks you take count against your time, so you can't take a ton of breaks. But don't worry too much: the test probably won't take the full four hours to complete!

    Oh, and yes, you'll be given scratch paper and a calculator for the math problems (and remember, there's only about 10 of them on the 120 question test)! You won't need to remember long division, or try to do math in your head.

    When you finish the test, you'll submit it on the test software, and then return to the front desk. The exam center staff will tell you if you passed or failed. You won't have to wait for your results, or your license: if you pass you'll get your license on the spot, and have now become a realtor!

  3. Pay the licensing fee. If you pass the test you'll get your real estate license on the spot. Congratulations! All that's left to do is pay the MA real estate salesperson license fee. What is the cost of a real estate license? The fee for a new license is between $103-$150 depending on how long your first license lasts (it will depend on when your birthday is in relation to your test date). So getting your real estate license costs $150 at most in licensing fees. You'll pay your fee to the state when you pass the test, so be sure to come prepared to pay on the day of the test with either a check or a credit or debit card (they don't accept cash). Once you pay, you'll leave the test center with your new real estate license. Congratulations on getting your MA real estate license!

What do I do after I get my MA real estate license?

Good question! After you pass the test, you'll probably want to go to work for a real estate agency, and you may be wondering how difficult it will be to find a job. Good news: it is easy to find work as a real estate agent, and our online course includes broker recruiting and real estate job listings to make it easier to find a job after you get your license. Just be sure that whichever agency you end up working for offers thorough sales training so that you'll be prepared to work as soon as possible, because real estate agents are usually paid on a commission only basis, so sales training is important to help you learn the industry and begin making money as quickly and efficiently as possible.

(Wondering how much real estate agents usually make? You can read all about real estate agent salaries here.)

To maintain your real estate license and keep it from expiring, MA requires real estate salespersons to complete 12 hours of continuing education within two years of receiving his or her license. Conveniently, you can complete your continuing education requirement easily anywhere you have an internet connection. When the time comes to complete your continuing education, check out our online continuing education classes here.

What else do I need?

The steps above are all that's required to get a real estate license, but there's a few extra things you'll want to be successful as a real estate agent:

  • MLS Access - You'll need to have access to Multiple Service Listing (MLS) so that you can view all of the properties across the state for rent or sale. MLS access costs between $20-$40 per month, and is something every real estate agent should have.

  • E&O Insurance - You probably want to purchase E&O (Errors and Omissions) insurance. E&O insurance will help to protect you against lawsuits for any mistakes you might make (after all, you're only human!). The cost of this coverage can run you around $30 per month, depending on the policy you choose, and it's totally worth getting.

  • Realtor Membership - You might want to join your local chapter of the National Association of Realtors. Becoming a realtor is totally optional, but some offices will want their agents to join. Expect your Realtor membership dues to be about $500 per year if you're required (or want) to join your local chapter. If you join mid-year the dues will be pro-rated, so you may not need to pay the full amount during your first year as an agent.

Total Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent

Let's summarize all of the costs to get your real estate license in Massachusetts. If we add up all of the costs you're likely to incur in your first month as a new agent, it looks like:

  • Real Estate Classes - $250-$500
  • Test Application - $31
  • Test Registration - $54
  • License Fee - $150 at most
  • MLS Access - $20-$40/month
  • E&O Insurance - $30/month
  • Total Cost To Become a Real Estate Agent: $500-$700

Not too bad when you consider that most professional licenses cost several thousand dollars to get (never mind something like a medical or law license, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years of schooling!).

Wait, but how do I become a real estate broker?

Good question! The real estate salesperson license is not the same as the real estate broker license, and there are a few extra steps to become a broker.

(Wondering what the difference between a salesperson and broker is? Basically, it's this: real estate salespeople have to work for a broker, real estate brokers can work for themselves.)

First, you have to obtain your real estate salesperson license, since it's a pre-requiste for getting a real estate broker's license. After you get your salesperson license you'll need to work for a brokerage for at least three years, complete another 40 hour course, and you pass the state real estate broker's test.

So you can't open a real estate brokerage right away, but there is a silver lining: real estate salesperson work is very independent, and many brokerages let you choose how to run your real estate business for yourself.

And we're done!

Phew, that was a lot! If you follow the steps above, and you'll be licensed as a real estate salesperson in Massachusetts in no time! Hopefully this guide answered your questions about getting your real estate license, and we'll see you in class!

Interested in getting your real estate license online?


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