6 Steps to Getting a Real Estate License in California


california real estate

Getting a real estate license in California is easier than you may think. And it unlocks an incredible career opportunity, with flexible hours, unlimited income potential, and the power to effectively be your own boss! Your California real estate license gives you access to this rewarding career path, without requiring an expensive degree. 

Here is the simple six-step process to getting a real estate license in California.

1. Meet the state’s general requirements

There is a shortlist of general requirements published by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) for anyone looking to get a real estate license in California. 

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old.

  • Residency: You must be a lawful resident of the United States. California residency is not a requirement to get a California real estate license, but if you aren’t a California resident, you’ll need to complete the required Out-of-State Forms

  • Honesty: You must be honest and truthful. Criminal convictions could be grounds for denying your real estate license application, but lying about any convictions will be grounds for denial.

As long as you meet these requirements, you can proceed to the next step: getting your real estate education. 

2. Complete your pre-licensing education

California requires 135 hours of pre-licensing real estate education. This requirement consists of three college-level courses:

  • Real Estate Principles (45 hours)

  • Real Estate Practices (45 hours)

  • A real estate elective, chosen from the following list (45 hours):

    • Real Estate Appraisal

    • Property Management

    • Real Estate Finance

    • Real Estate Economics

    • Legal Aspects of Real Estate

    • Real Estate Office Administration

    • General Accounting

    • Business Law

    • Escrows

    • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending

    • Computer Applications in Real Estate

    • Common Interest Developments

Your courses can be taken from any state-approved provider, but choose carefully. Some curriculum is of higher quality than others. Taking a course where the only course materials are a PDF textbook is going to be less engaging (and less effective!) than taking a course with interactive videos and pop-up quizzes. 

And if you have a busy schedule, you should consider finding an online real estate school that allows you to take courses directly on your cell phone or tablet so you can learn on-the-go. 

3. Apply to take your state exam

As soon as your coursework is complete, you can apply directly through the DRE eLicensing portal to take your real estate exam. Simply register, provide proof of completing your education, and pay the $60 exam fee.

Insider tip: if you have already chosen your broker (which we’ll talk about in Step 5), you can technically apply for your state exam and your real estate license at the same time. This can expedite the process of getting a real estate license in California by several weeks. 

4. Pass the state exam

The California real estate exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions, which you must complete in three hours. To pass the exam, you’ll need to score a minimum of 70% correct.   

5. Choose a broker

California requires licensed real estate agents to work under a licensed supervising broker. Your broker will oversee your work, help you learn the ropes, and share responsibility for your actions as a licensed professional. 

While most aspiring agents wait until passing their exam to choose a broker, you can start interviewing them at any point. Interviewing brokers while working on your course requirements is a good way to speed up the process. 

6. Complete your license application

The final step in getting your real estate license in California is to complete your license application. You can sign up on the DRE’s eLicensing portal to complete and submit your license application online. At this point, you will also be charged the original licensing fee of $245, which can also be paid online with your license application. As mentioned, this step can be combined with Step 3 if you’re in a hurry to get your license.

As soon as you receive your approval from the DRE, you officially have a real estate license in California and can immediately start working with buyers and sellers. Enjoy your new career!

Kayla Zamora


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