How to get a California state real estate license for beginners


California is one of the most popular and strong real estate markets in the country.

Famous for its glorious sunny weather and idyllic natural surroundings, California offers a plethora of natural beauty and sprawling metropolitan charm. 

Working in California real estate is a dream come true for many aspiring as well as experienced real estate professionals.

Be it San Francisco and San Diego or Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California’s real estate market offers a diverse and eclectic mix of residential and commercial real estate.

Home to the most expensive real estate markets in the country, California continues to attract homebuyers, skilled workers and real estate investors from around the country.

Did you know that you can clock around $91K annually as a real estate salesperson in California.

Consider this – the median selling price of a California home is around $600K to $700K and the average commission rate in California is 5 percent, you can easily make around $32K.

Plus, due to a strong luxury housing market with homes selling for more than a million dollars, it is easier to make higher commissions in many markets in California.

With a strong economic outlook, a stable job market and a growing population, working in real estate can be a rewarding and exciting career path..

If you have set your sights on joining the California real estate market, we have put together all the steps you need to take to build your career.

How long will it take you to get a real estate license in California

The duration to get your real estate license varies from state to state.

There are many steps and actions you need to complete before submitting your license application to the California DRE (Department of Real Estate).

It takes anywhere between a few months to complete the prelicensing education and an additional few weeks to complete the application process

Considering all the steps involved, it should take anywhere between 3 to 6 months to obtain a California real estate salesperson license.

Steps to earning you California real estate license

Like every state, there are a specific bunch of rules and requirements to get a real estate license in California.

As an aspiring real estate salesperson or broker, you must fully understand and adhere to the qualifying requirements established by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

We have outlined all the steps you need to take (in their respective order) to get to your goal:

Step 1: Meet the eligibility criteria

Before applying for a California real estate license, you must meet the basic eligibility criteria.

According to the California DRE, every applicant must fulfill the basic statutory requirements as follows:

  • Age: You must be 18 years of age or older
  • Citizenship: You must be a legal resident of the U.S. or a lawfully admitted alien
  • Education: You must have a high school degree or GED equivalent

Once you meet the above eligibility requirements, you can then move to the next step.    


Step 2: Complete pre-licensing education

To qualify for the California real estate licensing exam, you must complete state approved pre-licensing education.

The California Department of Real Estate requires every applicant to complete 135 hours of DRE approved pre-licensing coursework.

You can decide whether you want to learn in an in-person college environment or complete your education online in a self-paced way.

There are multiple choices for students looking for online real estate pre licensing courses in California.

However, most students prefer the convenience and practicality of online courses as they are more flexible.

One of them is RealEstateU which offers comprehensive online learning packages with a host of valuable features and useful learning benefits for students.

Learn more about their various learning packages here to meet your needs.

Step 3: Apply for licensing exam

After completing the pre-licensing education, you can apply for the California salesperson licensing exam.

To do so, you will have to complete and submit a licensing application form to the Department of Real Estate in California.

Along with the application, you will also be required to submit additional documents such as proof of completion of your pre-licensing education.

Additionally, first time license applicants are also required to submit their electronic fingerprints for background verification purposes.

Step 4: Take the licensing exam

Taking the California real estate licensing exam is the step where all your preparation and hard work will be tested.

The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions and you will get 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the test.

To pass the exam, applicants must score at least 70% or above in the final score.

Step 5: Find a sponsoring broker

If you have successfully cleared the California salesperson licensing exam, you are all set to start your real estate career.

However, you must find a sponsoring broker or a brokerage firm who will be willing to train you and give you practical experience.

With more than 100,000 licensed brokers in California, finding a broker who can be your mentor should not be a difficult task.