How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

Are you fascinated by the world of real estate and looking to embark on an exciting career in California's thriving property market? Becoming a licensed real estate agent in the Golden State can open doors to a rewarding profession with ample opportunities. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to become a real estate agent in California, covering everything from the general requirements to obtaining a license to the promising job prospects that await you.

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The real estate agent hands over the key to the house

General Requirements to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

California's real estate sector thrives, with recent statistics revealing impressive salary prospects. On average, real estate agents in the state earn over $90,000 per year, making it an enticing career path for ambitious individuals. This captivating statistic serves as a testament to the financial potential that awaits those who embark on this exciting journey.

Our guide will teach you how to become a realtor in California by equipping you with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the requirements, steps, and terms of obtaining your California realtor license.

Here are some of the main requirements for real estate license in California: 

  • Age Requirement. To become a real estate agent in California, you must be 18 years old or older. This ensures that candidates possess the necessary maturity and legal capacity to engage in real estate transactions.
  • Educational Requirements. Completion of pre-license education is mandatory. Prospective agents must successfully complete 135 hours of approved real estate courses covering topics such as real estate principles, practice, and legal aspects. These courses can be taken online or in person from accredited institutions.
  • Exam Requirement. Passing the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam is a crucial step toward obtaining your license. The exam features two sections: the national portion and the state-specific portion. It assesses your understanding of real estate principles, laws, and practices.
  • Background Check. Applicants must undergo a background check conducted by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). Any criminal convictions, disciplinary actions, or ethical violations may impact your eligibility to become a licensed real estate agent.
  • Moral Character Determination. The DRE evaluates the moral character of applicants to ensure they possess the integrity and honesty required for the profession. Candidates must honestly disclose any prior legal or disciplinary issues and provide the necessary documentation for review.
  • Real Estate License Application. After successfully passing the California realtor exam, aspiring agents must submit a license application to the DRE. This application requires detailed personal information, educational history, and proof of completion of pre-license education.
  • License Fee. A non-refundable fee is required to process the application. As of 2023, the fee for a California real estate salesperson license is $245.

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Reasons to Get a California State Real Estate License 

The real estate agent

Here are some vital perks of getting California real estate license: 

  • Lucrative Earning Potential. Obtaining the license opens the door to a profession with significant income potential. The state's robust housing market, high property demand, and attractive commission structures create ample opportunities to earn a substantial income through successful real estate transactions.
  • Flexibility and Independence. As a licensed real estate agent in California, you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of managing your own schedule. You have the autonomy to choose when and where you work, allowing for a better work-life balance and the ability to tailor your career to your personal needs and preferences.
  • Diverse Career Opportunities. The real estate industry offers a wide range of career paths and specialties. Whether you aspire to be a residential agent, commercial property specialist, property manager, or real estate broker, a California real estate salesperson license provides the foundation to pursue various avenues within the field.
  • Personal and Professional Growth. Becoming a licensed real estate agent provides opportunities for personal and professional growth. You will constantly learn and develop new skills, from negotiation tactics and market analysis to marketing strategies and client relationship management. 
  • Networking and Relationship Building. Real estate is a people-oriented business offering countless networking opportunities. By connecting with clients, fellow agents, lenders, contractors, and other professionals in the industry, you can build a strong network that can lead to referrals, partnerships, and a steady stream of potential clients.
  • Thriving Housing Market. California's housing market remains robust and resilient, presenting an exciting environment for real estate agents. With a diverse range of property types, from urban condominiums to sprawling estates, and a constant influx of new residents, the state provides a dynamic market that promises ongoing business opportunities.
  • Making a Positive Impact. As a real estate agent, you have the opportunity to help people achieve their dreams of homeownership, investment success, or finding their ideal commercial space. Guiding clients through the real estate process and witnessing their satisfaction and gratitude can be incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally.

6 Steps to Get a Real Estate License in California 

The path to becoming a licensed real estate agent requires navigating several essential steps. Below, we will guide you through the process of obtaining a real estate license in California, from completing pre-license education and passing exams to selecting a sponsoring broker and helping you apply for California real estate license. By understanding and following the procedure, you can set yourself on the path to a successful career in the thriving Golden State real estate market.

So, without further ado, follow these 6 major steps to become a real estate agent in California:

1. Complete 135 hours of pre-license education

To become a licensed real estate agent in California, you must complete 135 hours of pre-license education from an accredited institution. These courses cover important topics such as real estate principles, practice, and legal aspects. The coursework can be completed online or in person and provides the foundational knowledge necessary to succeed in the industry.

2. Pass the course final exam

After completing the pre-license education, you will need to pass the course's final exam. This exam assesses your understanding of the material covered in the courses and ensures that you have acquired the necessary knowledge to practice real estate in California.

3. Pass a criminal background check

As part of the licensing process, you will undergo a criminal background check conducted by the DRE. This check helps determine your eligibility and ensures you meet the moral character requirements to become a licensed real estate agent.

4. Pass the real estate license exam in California

Once you have successfully completed the pre-license education and passed the background check, you are eligible to take the Real Estate Salesperson Exam California. This exam tests your understanding of real estate principles, laws, and practices specific to California.

Here are some valuable tips for succeeding in passing the California real estate license exam:

  • Study the exam content outlined by the DRE.
  • Take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the exam format and improve your time management skills.
  • Review your pre-license education course materials thoroughly, focusing on important concepts and laws.
  • Understand real estate math formulas and practice solving related problems.
  • Create a study schedule to ensure consistent and comprehensive review.
  • Utilize additional study resources, such as textbooks, online courses, and study groups.
  • Focus on legal and ethical concepts specific to California real estate.
  • Learn effective exam strategies, including reading questions carefully and managing time wisely.
  • Prioritize self-care to maintain focus and mental well-being.
  • Stay calm, confident, and trust in your preparation on the exam day.
California real estate license exam

5. Choose a sponsoring broker

To practice as a real estate agent in California, you must work under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker. Choosing a sponsoring broker who aligns with your professional goals and offers mentorship, training, and support is essential. Research different brokerages, interview potential sponsors, and select the one that best suits your needs.

6. Complete the license application

After passing the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam and finding a sponsoring broker, you will need to complete a Salesperson License Application. This involves submitting personal information, educational history, proof of pre-license education completion, and other required documentation. Ensure that you fill out the application accurately and provide all necessary information to avoid delays in the licensing process.

Once the DRE submits, reviews, and approves your application, you will receive your California salesperson license. Remember to keep your license current by fulfilling any continuing education requirements and renewing it on time.

It's crucial to note that the steps mentioned above are a general overview of the process and may be subject to updates or changes by the California Department of Real Estate. It's advisable to visit the DRE website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information and any specific requirements that may apply to your situation.

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How Long Does Getting a California Real Estate License Take

You’ve already figured out that learning how to get California real estate license requires following a specific process. The time it takes to become a licensed real estate agent in California can vary. The pre-license education can take several weeks to complete, depending on the individual's schedule and pace. After finishing the education, scheduling and taking the exam usually requires additional weeks of preparation and booking an available exam date.

Once the exam is successfully passed, aspiring agents must find a sponsoring broker who will supervise their real estate activities. This step can vary in duration, as it depends on the individual's networking abilities and the availability of suitable brokerages.

Finally, candidates need to submit their license application to the California Department of Real Estate. The processing time for applications can vary, but it is generally advisable to anticipate a few weeks for the DRE to review and approve the application.

So, how long does it take to become a real estate agent in California? Overall, the process of obtaining a real estate license in California typically takes several months from the start of pre-license education to receiving the actual license. It is important to note that individual circumstances may impact the exact timeline, and it is advisable to stay informed of any updates or changes in the licensing requirements and procedures.

Job Opportunities After Receiving a Real Estate License 

The real estate agent holds the keys and the layout of the house in his hands

After receiving a real estate license in California, a world of exciting job opportunities awaits. The real estate industry offers diverse career paths and specialties, allowing licensed professionals to explore various avenues based on their interests and goals. 

Here are some of the job opportunities available to licensed real estate agents:

  • Residential Real Estate Agent. Help individuals buy, sell, and rent residential properties like houses, condominiums, and apartments.
  • Commercial Real Estate Agent. Specialize in facilitating transactions involving commercial properties, such as office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial complexes.
  • Property Manager. Oversee the day-to-day operations of rental properties on behalf of property owners, handling tasks such as tenant management, maintenance, and rent collection.
  • Real Estate Broker. With additional experience and education, you can become a real estate broker and lead your own brokerage, overseeing a team of agents and managing client transactions.
  • Real Estate Investor. Utilize your market knowledge to invest in real estate properties, either for long-term rentals, fix-and-flip projects, or property development.
  • Real Estate Consultant. Provide expert advice and guidance to clients on real estate matters, including market trends, investment opportunities, and property valuations.
  • Mortgage Loan Officer. Assist clients in securing financing for their real estate transactions by working with lenders and guiding them through the loan application process.

Bottom Line

All in all, becoming a real estate agent in California can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. To succeed in this competitive industry, it is essential to follow the necessary steps and meet the requirements. Key tips to remember when learning how to get a real estate license in California include thorough preparation for the California Real Estate License Exam, focusing on legal and ethical aspects, and seeking additional study resources. Building a strong foundation of knowledge, finding a reputable sponsoring broker, and staying up-to-date with continuing education are vital for long-term success. 

By approaching the licensing process with dedication, professionalism, and a commitment to ongoing learning, you can embark on a fruitful journey as a licensed real estate agent in the vibrant California market. Once you become a real estate agent you should keep in mind that you life will be easier with the right document managment system and the list of real estate document templates that will spped up your work.


How many times can you take the real estate exam?

You can take the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam as many times as necessary to pass. However, there are specific waiting periods between exam attempts. If you fail the exam, you must wait 18 calendar days before retaking it.

Is it hard to get a realtor license?

The difficulty of obtaining a real estate license varies from person to person. It requires dedication, commitment, and a thorough understanding of the real estate principles, laws, and practices specific to California. The pre-license education and exam preparation can be challenging, but with proper study habits and preparation, many individuals successfully earn their real estate license.

What degree do most real estate agents need?

In California, a specific degree is not required to become a real estate agent. While some agents may have a college degree in a related field, such as business, finance, or marketing, it is not mandatory. Instead, individuals need to complete the required pre-license education, pass the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam, and fulfill other licensing requirements outlined by the California Department of Real Estate. Practical experience, ongoing professional development, and networking skills can also contribute to success in the real estate industry.

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