The qualifications for being a real estate broker are different depending on where you live. However, in all states you must complete real estate courses and pass an exam (source). Certain states, like Colorado require that you pass a background check.
If you don't pay your taxes, states like California won't allow you to get a license. Some states require that you have one year of experience at being an agent, while others want you to have three years under your belt.
Regardless of the state's requirements, budding brokers must take pre-license courses. But even these courses differ from state to state. In Washington, a pre-license course breaks down to thirty hours of advanced law, thirty hours of broker management, and thirty hours of business management. It may seem like a lot, but at least no one's asking you to be President.
Even after you get your license, it won't be the last time you need to verify your smarts. Brokers must renew their license every two to four years.
What does all this exam-taking add up to? Brokers know more about real estate than most agents (take that, Joe and Jane Houseseller). They have to know more in order to manage agents and complete paperwork, as well as maintain relationships with property owners, management companies, landlords, and especially the local real estate board.
The testing does pay off, though, because you'll make more money than an agent. And isn't making more what this is all about?