How to Get Your Iowa Real Estate License

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Is Real Estate For Me?

What does it really take to get your Iowa real estate license? In total, there are nine steps to becoming a licensed REALTOR® in Iowa but some of the most important steps are taking the 60-hour pre-licensing course, passing the licensing exam and completing the three additional 12-hour courses. It can seem like a confusing process at first. Where do you even begin? How do you take a 60-hour course on real estate? What is the exam like and how do you even study for it?

Current agents are your best source of insight for everything about the licensing process. Read on to find out what advice these agents had to offer about the licensing process overall, what type of 60-hour course worked for them and what they would have done differently. 


Meet the Agents:

Jason Mickelson

Licensed in 2017

Mike Crabb

Licensed in 2015

Megan Mitchum

Licensed in 2005

Renee Dunkel

Licensed in 2016

Ethan Hokel

Licensed in 2015

Jessica Gilligan

Licensed in 2016

How did you learn about the real estate licensing process?

Where are you even supposed to start when it comes to getting your real estate license? There are so many guides online and so much information, it can be hard to know where to even begin. These agents share how they started the licensing process: 



“I found out about the licensing process through friends who I knew were in the business and had gone through it before. Also, the broker manager pointed me in the right direction about where to go to get started.”

– Ethan Hokel

“There are fantastic resources online. I found the Iowa Association of REALTORS® webpage on my own. I Googled it and it was full of good details. It laid out step-by-step what you’re going to do.”

– Jason Mickelson

“I did research online and then I also eventually talked to a broker to understand it more because it’s kind of confusing.”

– Renee Dunkel

How did you take the pre-licensing course?

There are two different ways to take the 60-hour pre-licensing course: in-person and online.

Most agents will tell you that there is no one “right way” to take the pre-licensing course, as long as it works for your schedule and learning style. Find out what these agents had to say about which course options worked best for them and how long they took to complete it:


“I wasn’t quite ready to leave my job at the time but wanted to get a head start on the classes and getting licensed. I think the online course was the right choice for me but it also is probably not a great choice for people who procrastinate. It did take me the entire six months to take the course.”

– Megan Mitchum

“I signed up for a 60-hour class in-person right down in Des Moines. The instructor told us here are the things that are important and learn these things because they’re going to be on the test. Pretty soon I was licensed and ready to go.”

– Jason Mickelson

“I think my licensing process took about 6-8 weeks. I did the three 12-hour classes while I was still working full time because they were offered on Friday nights and all day Saturdays, so that worked really well for me. Then once I quit my full-time job, I did the 60-hour course online. Then I studied for a few days and took the exam.”

– Jessica Gilligan

How did you study for the licensing exam?

For some people, the pre-licensing course isn’t the most daunting part of the licensing process. Instead, they’re worried about how to study for the exam. It’s probably been a while since the days of tests and quizzes in school! Read on to find out how these agents studied for the licensing exam:



To prepare for the exam, I just watched the online training. I took the online course so I took their practice quizzes and went in and took the test and somehow managed to pass it the first time.”

– Mike Crabb

“In order to prepare for the test, I found some videos online that showed some asking questions of potential agents taking the test. It helped me understand more of it by listening to other people discuss the questions that could come up.”

– Renee Dunkel

“I took a lot of notes and then went back and re-studied those. I also took a pre-test you can purchase. I did pass the first time.”

– Ethan Hokel

What was the exam like- did you pass the first time?

Don’t psych yourself out about the exam before you even take it. If you pay attention during the pre-licensing course, you will learn everything you need to know. Find out what this agent thought about the exam:



“I did pass the first time. I found the exam pretty straightforward compared to the questions I had been practicing from the practice tests and the chapter reviews. I felt like with the online course, the questions they gave us were trick questions or might be over a loophole. I felt like the actual exam was pretty straightforward. They weren’t trying to trick us.”

– Jessica Gilligan

 Is there anything you would have done differently?

Current agents who have gone through the licensing process often have a lot of insight to share about what they would have done differently. There is no one “right way” to get your license, but you can take into account these agents’ experiences. Find out what they would change:


“If I could it differently, I probably would have gotten licensed prior to quitting my job. Then I would have been further ahead and it delayed my time from when I last worked to when I got paid again.”

– Jason Mickelson

“If I was going to do anything differently, I would have done it a few years sooner.”

– Mike Crabb

“I think I would have taken the in-class course so I could get to know people and the networking that could be there. A lot of those people are going through the same thing you are so I just think from a networking standpoint it would have helped to be connected with people in class.”

– Ethan Hokel

What advice do you have for anyone just starting the licensing process?

The most common piece of advice you’ll hear from current agents about the licensing process is to talk to a broker. They have the knowledge and know-how to give you the information and insight you need to make your own decisions about getting licensed. Find out what else these agents had to say about the licensing process:


“If you’re considering getting licensed, I would definitely consult the Iowa Association of REALTORS® page and then reach out to the association or a broker with any questions.

– Jessica Gilligan

“Research the available classes and see if it will fit into your schedule. I do think you probably stay on task pretty well with the instructors in the live settings. The online course is great but I feel like you need to have some discipline with that.”

– Megan Mitchum

The 60-hour in-person is real life and real world. They go through so much detail like ‘This is what you’re going to encounter.’ So not only are you learning about the rules and laws about real estate, you’re learning what is going to happen and what you’re going to experience. So without all that foundation, I don’t know if you can be as successful. So I would say find a way to get that class in person.”

– Jason Mickelson

The licensing process is not always an easy one. Before you jump in, it helps to know what current agents have to say about the 60-hour course, taking the licensing exam and studying for it. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to getting your real estate license. But by talking to and learning from industry professionals, you can choose the licensing options that work best for you.

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