There are many reasons why someone might be attracted to a career in real estate. A lucrative career, flexible schedule and the opportunity to spend time outside an office are big draws for many people. Although real estate agents are basically self-employed contractors, they must undergo a good deal of training, not to mention the associated costs, in order to get their license and start selling houses.

It isn’t uncommon for budding agents to spend upwards of $2,000 during their initial year in the business. While many states have similar requirements, the process differs slightly from state-to-state.

New Jersey Real Estate Licensing Requirements

There are a few basic requirements to achieve a real estate license in New Jersey. A person must be a minimum of 18 years old and have a high school diploma or have passed an equivalency test. Although a college degree isn’t mandatory, it certainly helps.

All aspiring agents must also submit to a background check and fingerprinting; its purpose is to see if you have a criminal history, although having one doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from receiving a license. It is possible for the real estate commission to grant a license after speaking with the applicant about the nature of a prior offense and how long ago it occurred.


Although many states offer reciprocity for people who hold a real estate license from another state, New Jersey is not one of them. In other words, even if you passed a licensing exam in different state, you aren’t automatically eligible to apply for a license in New Jersey.

Pre-Licensing Courses

The next step is to enroll for pre-licensing courses.  Although New Jersey agents have to complete a minimum of 75 hours of pre-licensing coursework, they are fortunate in that other states have more stringent course requirements. Texas, for instance, stipulates that agents complete 180 hours of courses prior to their application.

Through these courses, agents learn about the laws and practices sanctioned by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission. In addition to listing, pricing and selling homes, these classes also cover things like housing discrimination.

Major topics covered in these seminars include:

  • Taxes, Mortgages, and Appraisals
  • Deeds and Leases
  • New Jersey Laws and Regulations
  • Ethics and Ethical Conduct

Basically, these classes give you an in-depth education of the real estate industry.

You have the option of taking the courses in person or online.  While online classes can be the more budget-friendly option, classroom courses have the advantage of meeting and sharing information with other aspiring salespeople. It’s important to note that all courses must be done through a licensed institution. You can find these schools on the New Jersey Real Estate Commission’s website. If you attend a school an unlicensed school, you will not receive credit for your work and will have to retake those courses.

New Jersey Real Estate Exam

All of this prep, of course, leads to the New Jersey real estate exam, which must be taken within a year of finishing your coursework. Indeed, you will need your certificate of course completion in order to take the exam. If you obtain a passing grade, you are than eligible to apply for your real estate license. On the other hand, if you do not pass, you can always retake the test.

The Sponsoring Broker

Prior to submitting your licensing application, you must have a sponsoring broker. This is a very important part of the process because this person basically functions as your adviser for the first part of your career.

You will work under their supervision and consult with them regularly. For this reason, it is helpful to speak with a number of brokers and visit their offices before committing to anyone.

After you find a sponsoring broker, it’s time to submit your application. While a criminal history won’t automatically disqualify you from the process, you could be denied if you’re on probation or parole. Because you will be handling large financial transactions along with sensitive personal information, the committee takes your personal history into account.

Continuing Education

Nevertheless, your real estate education doesn’t end just because you have become a licensed agent. New Jersey requires you to undergo 12 hours of continuing education training within each licensing period (two years).

Half of the 12 credits are core requirement on topics such as ethics while the rest are electives. These courses are helpful because they expand your real estate knowledge and enable you to explore different avenues of the industry.

A Real Estate Referral Agent

There is also the option to become a referral agent. Instead of listing real estate, a referral agent refers prospective customers to a real estate agent who will pay them a portion of their commission from any transaction that results from the referral. For this reason, a real estate referral agent is not actively involved in showing property.  Nevertheless, they must first pass all of the requirements to become a salesperson before switching over to being referral agent. Due to changes in New Jersey law in the past couple of years, a referral agent must hang their license with a referral only agency, which will process any commissions received from referrals.

This is the perfect option for someone who might like to step back from being a sales agent but would like to leverage their industry contacts to create a revenue stream

Although meeting some of the aforementioned requirements may seem like a daunting task, the effort will be worth it. Whatever avenue of the industry you choose, you will be on the path to an exciting career that is both fulfilling and financially rewarding.