Getting your real estate license is an important step in your career. You need your license to be able to assist buyers and sellers with buying and selling homes. To get your license, you’ll need to meet a few requirements in your state, including pre-licensing courses and passing the state exam.

Most states require aspiring agents to complete pre-licensing classes. These courses typically cover basic information about the real estate industry and your state’s real estate laws. They also prepare you for the real estate licensing exam. Pre-licensing courses range in length from 40 hours in Michigan to 180 hours in Texas.

Once you’ve completed the required number of pre-licensing hours, it’s time to start studying for your real estate exam. You’ll want to do as much research as possible about the exam and how it works in your state. Real estate website REthority recently surveyed agents who’d passed their exam, and they reported it took them anywhere from two weeks to a month to study adequately for the test. Also read

After you’ve studied for the exam, you’ll need to schedule and take it. The exam is typically computerized and consists of two parts: a national section covering real estate principles and practices, and a state-specific portion testing your knowledge of your state’s laws. Each part is scored separately, and you must pass both sections to receive a passing score. If you fail either section, you must wait a certain amount of time before retaking it.

Once you successfully pass your exam, it’s time to submit your license application to your state’s real estate agency. You’ll need to submit your exam results, an application fee and proof that you’ve met pre-licensing course requirements. In many states, you’ll also need to complete a background check and fingerprinting before your license is approved.

The final step in the process is to find a broker with whom you’ll work as a real estate agent. Choosing a broker will affect your career trajectory and income potential, so it’s important to do your research. Consider the trainings, technology and support brokers offer their agents, as well as the fees they charge.

Ultimately, how long it takes to get your real estate license depends on the style of classes you choose and how quickly you learn. If you take online courses, you’re the boss of your schedule and can finish your pre-licensing education in a few months or less. If you go to school in person, you’ll be bound to your program’s schedule, and it may take four or six months to complete your pre-licensing coursework.

It’s also important to remember that the journey to becoming a licensed real estate agent is not an end, but a beginning. As you begin your career, be sure to network with other licensed agents and seek out mentoring opportunities. This will help you stay on the right track and make good decisions for your business. Be patient—your hard work will pay off.