Guide: How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California


Are you looking to become a real estate agent in California? If you want to learn how to become a real estate agent in California, this guide will help you through the process. Like all other states, California has specific requirements for obtaining a CA real estate license.

California has one of the highest employment rates of real estate agents in the country, with over 12,000 employees in the field. Real estate agents in California make an average of about $62,000 per year, which is also one of the highest real estate agent salaries in the country. Getting a real estate license in California can get you in on one of the most popular careers in the state.

real estate license in california

Image Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

However, a real estate license in California will cost you some money and time in order to meet the specific California real estate license requirements. This article will explain every step for getting your California real estate license, from its prerequisites to the California real estate exam and applying for your license.

Since there is a difference in requirements for a California real estate license and a California real estate broker license, we will first highlight the differences to help you choose the right licensure for yourself.

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California Real Estate Broker License vs. California Real Estate License

Since a real estate broker and real estate agent make up two different occupations, the California real estate broker license is different from the CA real estate license.

A real estate agent works for a real estate broker. The agent is the salesperson, and the broker oversees the agent. Generally, a real estate broker has more education and experience than a real estate agent.

California Real Estate Broker License vs. California Real Estate License

Image Source: United Educational

A real estate broker can choose to run his or her own business or work with a team. Brokers can also manage other real estate agents and complete appraisals>. Therefore, the California real estate license exam for a broker is lengthier and more difficult than the exam for real estate agents.

The California real estate broker license exam requires applicants to hold at least a 4-year degree and 8 college-level real estate courses.

If applicants do not have the required degree, they must have at least two years of real estate experience plus the college-level courses. On the other hand, the education requirements for a real estate license in California, which we will outline in this guide, are not as strict.

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Prerequisites for Getting a Real Estate License in California

If you want to know how to get a real estate license in CA, you first have to ensure you meet important requirements. The state of California requires that you:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Reside within the United States
  • Are honest and trustworthy
  • Complete three college-level courses approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate licensees

You must meet these requirements before taking your exam for your real estate license in California.

California does not require you to be a California resident to obtain your California licensure. However, it does have requirements for out-of-state applicants to apply for a real estate license in California.

Although some states allow waived requirements for licensure if you are licensed as a real estate agent in other states, California does not waive licensure requirements. Out-of-state applicants must meet the education and exam requirements of in-state residents to become a part of the California Bureau of Real Estate licensees.

Out-of-state applicants must provide proof of comparable education courses in their state of residency and are subject to evaluation by the California Bureau of Real Estate before they are approved for a California real estate license and exam.

Getting a real estate license in California does not require previous real estate experience. However, having entry-level experience in the real estate business can certainly help you through the California real estate exam questions and answers. Consider an internship or secretary position at a real estate brokerage to gain some experience before applying for your exam.



Educational California Real Estate License Requirements

It is necessary to learn the fundamentals of how to become a real estate agent in California through college-level real estate courses. The courses required by the California Bureau of Real Estate will provide you with the specific knowledge you will need as a real estate agent in California so you can obtain your California real estate license.

California requires you to successfully complete three college courses, including Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and one real estate elective course. Elective courses can help you tailor your real estate license in California to the type of real estate career you want to have.

For example, you can choose to take a course in real estate appraisal or real estate office administration if you would like to eventually have your own real estate business and provide additional services to your clients.

Whatever courses you choose, a real estate license in California requires that you complete them at an accredited institution approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate licensees.

how to become a real estate agent in california

Image Source: California Bureau of Real Estate

You can search for approved courses for a real estate license in California on the California Bureau of Real Estate website. You can choose to search for the particular course provider you are interested in or leave the fields blank to get a full list of approved institutions and courses.

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Preparing for a Real Estate License in California

The next part of the CA real estate license application is the California real estate exam. Prior to taking the exam, you are required to successfully complete the required college courses. There are no additional requirements needed to qualify to take the exam.

However, it is good practice at this time to learn how to get a real estate license in CA by familiarizing yourself with the California Bureau of Real Estate website and its information. In doing so, you can ensure that you have met all specific requirements up to this point to better prepare yourself for your upcoming exam and your application for a California real estate license.

Next, consider preparation methods for the exam that involve practicing with California real estate exam questions and answers. Several online educational training programs specific to California licensing can provide you with preparation for your real estate exam.

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), for example, partners with OnlineEd for a complete training package specifically for those seeking a real estate license in California. 

C.A.R. offers three different packages to help prepare prospective real estate agents for the California real estate exam questions and answers. The largest package, for $249, provides 135 hours of online coursework, including a code of ethics course, printed textbooks, online testing and grading, the state exam prep module, and more.

The courses also cover everything you need to know about California real estate license requirements so you can ensure you are ready to begin your licensure exam. You might also consider an exam training book, like “California Real Estate License Preparation,” which provides sample California real estate exam questions and answers for study practice.

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Taking the California Real Estate License Exam

Once you are ready to take your exam for a real estate license in California, you can download your application from the California Bureau of Real Estate website. The PDF version allows you to fill out the application on your computer and print it to sign, or you can print the application and fill it out manually.

When you complete out your application, make sure you use your correct legal name, or your application can be denied by the California Bureau of Real Estate. You will also need to pick a date for your California real estate license exam which is included on the application.

california real estate broker license

Image Source: CA Real Estate Exams

You can register for a California Bureau of Real Estate account to schedule yourself for an exam time, which are typically on weekdays in specific locations through the state of California.

On the exam date, you will need to provide a photo identification, including your driver’s license or military identification. Make sure you leave mobile devices at home as they are not permitted in the California real estate license exam room.

The exam for a real estate license in California consists of 150 multiple choice questions. You are given 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. You will get your results mailed to you within about 5 business days after your exam.


Applying for Your Real Estate License in California

When you apply to take your exam for a real estate license in California, you have the option to apply for a combination exam and licensure. This form allows you to obtain a California real estate license after successful completion of your exam, without an additional application.

Although this can save you some time in getting a real estate license in California, it will not save you any money. The fees for your exam and licensure simply become combined and due at the time of your application.

ca real estate license

Image Source: California Bureau of Real Estate

The fees for California Bureau of Real Estate licensees are outlined on its website. The exam alone is $60 and the license fee is $245 – for a combined total of $305, due at the time of your combination exam and license application. If you need a broker real estate license in California, you will pay $395 for your exam and license.

After you pay your fees and fill out the application for your real estate license in California, you are also required to have yourself fingerprinted by a live scan service provider. Then, you are ready to mail your completed application and fingerprints to the address outlined on the CA real estate license application.  



CA Real Estate License Expiration & Renewal

A California real estate license is good for four years. After this period, you must renew your license to keep it current and continue to legally practice.

After expiration, you are required to renew your California real estate license within two years without penalty. However, until you renew, you will not be allowed by the state of California to continue practicing real estate.

If your license goes past the two-year limit before getting renewed, you will be required to complete the exam and licensure application to obtain a new real estate license in California.

On-time renewal for a California real estate license costs $245, but a late renewal costs $367. You can renew your license online on the California Bureau of Real Estate website.

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Conclusion

We hope this article provided you with the information you need on how to become a real estate agent in California. California real estate license requirements are similar to other states, but you must ensure you meet each specific requirement before applying for your exam and licensure.

Take the time to prepare for your California real estate exam, and consider gaining real-life experience in a real estate office before taking the exam.

Upon successful completion of your exam, check with the California Bureau of Real Estate for any additional requirements before applying for your California real estate license, such as the process for fingerprints.

Making sure you complete each important step will help you obtain licensure without hiccups in the process.



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