How to Get Your California Real Estate License

Here’s what you have to do to get your California real estate license.
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Real estate is big business on the Gold Coast. There are close to 420,000 licensed real estate agents in California. And every month anywhere from 1,750-2,400 salesperson licenses are issued to new agents. Want to be one of them?

Here’s what you have to do to get your California real estate license.

6 Steps to Getting a Real Estate License in California

  • Check the eligibility requirements.
  • Take three college-level real estate courses.
  • Apply to take the salesperson exam - there are two options.
  • Pass the salesperson exam.
  • Find an employing broker (if you haven’t already).
  • Submit a real estate license application (if you haven’t already).

Step 1 - Check the Eligibility Requirements

There are three eligibility requirements for getting a real estate license in California:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a resident of California. (There’s a separate process for out-of-state applicants.)
  • Have a clean criminal record. (You can still apply for a California real estate license with a criminal record but the application may be denied or sent to a District Office for further investigation.)

Step 2 - Take Three College-Level Real Estate Courses

Did you meet all of the eligibility requirements? Great! Now it’s time to learn how to become a real estate agent in California and what it takes to be a successful professional.

The state requires that you take a California real estate course. The course must include three college-level classes and has to be approved by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE)) (formerly known as the California Bureau of Real Estate). Even though the courses are college-level that doesn’t mean you have to enroll in a university.

Courses can be taken at:

  • An institution of higher learning accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • An institution of higher learning accredited by a comparable regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education.
  • A private real estate school with DRE-approved courses.

The three college-level courses you have to take include:

  • Real Estate Principles
  • Real Estate Practices
  • One of 12 Elective Courses

If you take the courses at an institution of higher learning the courses will either be three-semester units or four quarter units. Each course taken through a private real estate school will be at least 45 hours.

Step 3 - Apply to Take the Salesperson Exam

Once you’ve completed the three required courses you can then apply to take the California real estate salesperson exam. You can do this by using one of two applications:

  • Salesperson Examination Application
  • Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application

If you already have a sponsoring broker it’s best to go ahead and use the combined application. You’ll have to pay the nonrefundable $60 exam fee and the $245 license fee, but it will save you a few steps down the road.

On the applications, you’ll be given the choice to either have DRE schedule the exam for you at your chosen test site, or you can choose to self-schedule at a later date. Choosing to self-schedule will expedite the application process.

Include a copy of your course transcripts and you’re ready to mail your application to the Department of Real Estate. It will take around six weeks for the application to be processed. Once it’s approved, you’ll receive either an email letting you know you can schedule the exam, or the Examination Schedule Notice if DRE handled the scheduling.

Step 4 - Pass the Salesperson Exam

Now that you’ve been approved to take the exam, you’ve got two years to pass it. If you didn’t decide to let DRE schedule the exam, you’ll have to log on to the eLicensing system to choose a location, time, and date.

Study up before test day and take a few California real estate practice exams. The multiple-choice exam includes 150 questions with four choices per question. You’ll have 3 hours to complete the exam.

You won’t have to wait long for the results. Right after the electronic examination, you’ll receive your test score. If you made a 70% or higher you passed!

Step 5 - Find an Employing Broker

Technically, you can get a California salesperson license without an employing broker, also known as a sponsoring broker. BUT - without a broker, you can’t legally perform any act that requires a real estate license. The whole reason you got a license is so you could work as a real estate agent, right?

If you haven’t already found a California real estate broker and included their information on the salesperson exam/license application now’s the time to start lining up interviews.

Step 6 - Submit a Real Estate License Application

Did you use the Salesperson Examination Application to schedule your exam? Then you’ll need to submit another application for a salesperson license along with the $245 license fee.

In addition to submitting the application, first-time applicants also have to be fingerprinted by a live scan service provider. To do so you’ll have to fill out the Live Scan Service Form and pay a $49 fee.

Once everything has been reviewed and approved you’ll officially be a licensed California real estate agent!