How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in California?


While becoming a licensed real estate agent in California isn’t exactly a cake-walk, it’s probably easier and less time-consuming than you might expect.

Let’s look at how long each step in the process takes so you can figure out when you’ll be able to start your new real estate career!

Meeting the general requirements

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has three requirements for anyone looking to become a licensed real estate agent in California. 

  1. Age: You must be at least 18.

  2. Residency: You must be a lawful resident of the United States. If you aren’t a California resident, you’ll need to complete the required Out-of-State Forms

  3. Honesty: You must be honest and truthful. If you have a conviction on your record, you must disclose this to the DRE. A conviction doesn’t mean your real estate license application will be automatically denied. But failing to truthfully disclose any conviction is grounds for automatic denial.

Most applicants can immediately check these items off, meaning it takes no time at all to complete step one.

Completing your pre-licensing education

Taking the 135 hours of state-required real estate education courses will naturally take some time.

You can take your courses from any state-approved provider, but some real estate schools may be more time-efficient than others. Yes, the courses take around 135 hours, but you’ll also need extra time for studying. Online courses are generally the best use of your time since you can go at your own pace instead of spending week after week in a classroom. And if your course materials are designed for mobile use, you’ll be able to put all your down-time to good use, studying from your phone or tablet.

The DRE requires that you spend at least 2.5 weeks on each course, so the shortest amount of time in which you can complete your real estate education is 7.5 weeks.

While you’re working on your courses, you may also want to start interviewing supervising brokers. If you choose a broker before completing your coursework, you’ll be able to save some time on the next step.

Applying for your exam and your real estate license

To save processing time, you can apply to take your real estate exam and apply for your real estate license at the same time. It typically takes the DRE 6-8 weeks to approve a real estate license application, so why not have them working on that while they’re scheduling your real estate exam?

To apply for both at the same time, you just need to have your broker already lined up and pay both the $60 exam fee and the $245 license fee together. 

When you file your application to take the exam, you’ll have the option to allow the DRE to schedule your exam on the first available date. This can save some wait time, so if you’re in a hurry, go ahead and allow them to take care of the scheduling. 

Passing the exam

The three-hour California real estate exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. You’ll need to score at least a 70% to pass. 

Some larger cities are now offering an electronic format for the California real estate exam, which allows you to learn your results immediately after submitting your test. Otherwise, it can take about a week to get the results in the mail. 

As long as you applied for both your exam and your license at the same time, the DRE is still using this time to process your license application.  

Getting your real estate license

As soon as the DRE approves your license application, you’re officially a licensed real estate agent in California! 

So how long does it take to become a licensed real estate agent in California?

As long as you move through your coursework quickly, apply for your exam and your license at the same time, and pass your exam on the first try, you could become a licensed real estate agent in California inas little as 13.5 weeks. If you’d prefer to take your time working through the material and would rather find a broker after completing your exam, 5-6 months might be a more reasonable time-frame.

Either way, becoming a licensed real estate agent in California requires a lot less time than other comparable career paths that require a four-year degree! So get started today!

Michael Rhoda


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