Get a CA Real Estate License: Step-by-Step Guide

Feb 13, 2023
7 min

Getting a real estate license in California is a great way to put yourself on the road to making money.

Many people get a real estate license because they want to become a real estate agent. They know about the limitless income potential, workplace freedom, and the other perks that are associated with the job.

But, in this article, we want to highlight the real estate license. Specifically, how you can get your real estate license in 5 simple steps and more.

How to Get Your Real Estate License in California

In California, you can get your real estate license in 5 simple steps:

  1. Make sure you’re eligible to get a California real estate license
  2. Enroll in an accredited real estate school
  3. Schedule your real estate exam testing date
  4. Pass the real estate exam
  5. Sign with a real estate brokerage

That’s it! Once you complete all 5 steps, you’re an active agent ready to launch your real estate career.

1. Meet the California Requirements

To get a California real estate license, make sure you meet the requirements:

  • 18+ years old
  • Eligible to work within the U.S.

The Department of Real Estate (DRE) created these requirements to maintain California’s real estate industry integrity.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you can still get a real estate license in California.

2. Enroll in an Accredited California Real Estate School

Once you become qualified for your real estate license, you will need to enroll in an accredited real estate school.

A California real estate school will educate you on the salesperson pre-licensing material approved by the Department of Real Estate (DRE). All students will have to have complete 3 courses:

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Real Estate Principles
  • One elective course

When you complete each course, you will be rewarded with a certificate of completion. Your certificate acts as proof that you have enrolled and passed your course.

Students must complete all 3-courses within 1-year of their enrollment date to be eligible for the state exam. So, stay focused and don’t procrastinate!

Once you collect all 3-course certificates, you can apply for the California real estate exam.

3. Apply to the California Real Estate Exam

To apply to the California real estate exam, you will have to send in an application with the following material:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Completed live scan form
  • State exam fees
  • 3-licensing course certificates
  • Completed DRE Forms

You can apply for the California real estate exam online through the DRE's eLicensing portal. All you have to do is create an account, fill out the proper forms, and submit your certificates, which can all be done online.

To take the real estate exam, you will have to pass a live scan background check. This background check will identify any criminal history to see if you are eligible to become a real estate agent in California.

If you have a criminal history, the best thing you can do is to contact the DRE and be forthcoming and honest with your history.

4. Pass the California Real Estate State Exam

Once your application was approved, you can schedule your state exam testing date. 

The state exam is rigorous. Therefore, you will need to to pass with, at least, a 70% or higher.

Some schools have supplemental resources to help you pass the state exam. These training courses give you thorough course reviews and test-taking strategies.

5. Sign with a Brokerage

After passing the state exam, the DRE will email and mail you a copy of your real estate license. You can pick which brokerage you would like to interview with. When the real estate brokerage recruits you, it’s off to the races and you’re able to start this exciting new career.

Getting an interview with a real estate brokerage is simple. All you have to do is contact the brokerage, let them know you are a newly licensed agent, and that you’re interested in working together. Some real estate schools may even connect you with a brokerage they trust.

Frequently Asked Questions about Getting a Real Estate License

The following are the most common questions we receive about getting a real estate license in California. If you don't see your questions answered, let us know!

Should I Become a Real Estate Agent?

So, now that you know how to get your California real estate license, the next question is: “should you?”

We all know that real estate agents make a lot of money every time they close a deal on a new home. They make a small portion of the final sale, which is called their commission.

They also get workplace freedom. This means they can choose to work from anywhere in the world. From the brokerage office, their sofa, even at the beach.

Finally, this is a people-focused business. Meeting new and interesting people every day is exciting and you get to help them accomplish their dreams. Not only that but growing your network is a must, which means this job incentivizes you to be social and grow your network.

Nothing feels better than helping a family move into their dream home. You have the ability to leave a massive imprint on the lives of the people you help.

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, then check out one of our free intro sessions. This shows you what it’s like to work as a real estate agent and you also get a sneak peek of how our program works.

How Fast Can I Get Your License in California?

The fastest you can get your license in California is in 135 hours. In other words, a little under 8 weeks.

Compared to other careers, this is a low barrier of entry that comes with a fast start-up. Someone can go from knowing nothing about real estate to representing high-end clients in about 6-months. 

That’s impressive!

After you complete your schooling and apply to the state exam, you will have to wait for the DRE to schedule your test date. This takes about 3-months. During this time, we recommend studying as much as you can.

What Should I Do BEFORE I Get My License?

Just remember this one thing before you start your journey to getting a real estate license in California. You have to let everyone know you’re a real estate agent.

So many people start this career and never tell anyone that they’re an agent.

When everyone you know doesn’t realize you’re an agent, they won’t ever call you for your services. And as a new real estate agent, the people you know become your clients.

They are the people most likely to work with you.

So, when you’re enrolling into an accredited real estate school, that is the time to start building your database of contacts. Because it takes about 6-months for a new contact to become a client. Coincidentally, 6-months is the average time it takes to get your license.

By the time you get your license, you can have active clients ready to work with you.

That’s how you start your career with an exciting, uplifting momentum.

How Much Does a California Real Estate License Cost?

A real estate license in California can cost anywhere from $477 to $740. Here is a breakdown list of the fees and costs associated with your real estate license:

  • The real estate school (Pre-licensing program)
  • Real estate exam application fee
  • Live Scan cost (background check)
  • Real estate license fee

If you’re getting your license in California, there are tons of real estate schools you can pick from. Each one comes has its own program price.

Of course, we recommend enrolling in our program. Self-plug alert: we’re competitively priced and have the most robust, well-rounded programs in the entire state. 

Is a Real Estate License Hard to Get?

Getting real estate license in California can seem overwhelming, but with proper preparation and study, obtaining your license is attainable. The hardest part is passing the real estate exam.

This will require diligent studying and understanding common practices and terminology used in the industry. With that said, the real estate licensing exam has around 53%.

Which Real Estate School Should I Choose?

There are plethora of real estate schools in California. Of course we are biased when we say that you should pick our school, however others would agree that we are the best choice for fulfilling the pre-licensing education and getting prepped for a successful career.

CA Realty Training has the most reviews than any other real estate school in California and surpass all other schools in education, resources, and what we provide our students.

Can a Felon Get a Real Estate License?

In California, a felon may be able to obtain a real estate license if they meet certain requirements. However, their criminal record may impact the licensing process and their ability to work as a real estate agent.

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) considers each application on a case-by-case basis and may deny a license if the applicant's criminal history includes certain crimes such as fraud, embezzlement, or theft.

It is recommended that individuals with a criminal record seeking a real estate license in California consult with the DRE and a licensed attorney to determine their eligibility and the best course of action.

What is Real Estate License Reciprocity?

Real estate license reciprocity is a system that allows real estate agents to transfer their license from one state to another. This means that a licensed real estate agent in one state can work as a licensed agent in another state without having to go through the process of obtaining a new license in the new state.

California is one of the few states that do not have reciprocity with other states. Therefore, if you would are already a licensed agent in another state, you will have to go through the California's licensing process and pass the state exam.

I Got My Real Estate License, Now What?

There are a few things you should do right away after you get your license. First, find a brokerage where you can hang your license, which will allow you to legally practice real estate under the supervision of a broker. The next thing you should do is join your local boards and get access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This will give you the credentials as Realtor® and let you access all the local listings in your area.

After you do these things, focus on finding your support team. Determine whether you want to join a team or go solo, find yourself a mentor who can show you the ropes, and find a good lender to work with. Your brokerage is a great place to find good teams, mentors, and lenders.

All that's left to do is to start scheduling coffee dates with your sphere of influence to let everyone know that you can help them with real estate.

How Do I Choose a Brokerage to Work For?

Picking your preferred real estate brokerage comes down to personal taste more than anything. You want to make sure that the vibe of the brokerage fits your personality and what you want to accomplish in your career.

You will also want to consider the commission split. Some brokerages will try to offer a lower commission split because you are a new agent. That should be a strong indicator that the brokerage is not for you.

However, there is one important thing you do need to consider when picking a brokerage. That is the training and mentorship program. You should find a brokerage that offers training programs for their agents and a mentorship program that helps their agents succeed.

How Often Do I Have to Renew Your Real Estate License?

In California, real estate licenses must be renewed every four years. The renewal process involves completing continuing education courses, paying a fee, and updating any personal or professional information on file with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

The exact renewal requirements and deadlines vary, so it is important for real estate licensees to keep track of their renewal date and complete the necessary steps in a timely manner. Failure to renew a real estate license by the deadline can result in the license becoming inactive and may require the licensee to reapply for a new license.

It is recommended that California real estate licensees regularly check the DRE's website for updated information on license renewal requirements.

Can I Get My License Suspended or Revoked?

Yes, in California your real estate license can become suspended or revoked if you break your code of ethic. However, when a license is suspended or revoked, it is still possible to get it reinstated.

Depending on the circumstances, you will either have to wait for the suspension period to run out and/or complete several actions to petition the revocation. At which, you may have to undergo investigation and pay a fee.

How Do I Look Up a Real Estate License Number?

To look up a real estate license in California, you can use the online license search feature provided by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). This tool allows you to search for individuals or companies who hold a real estate license in the state.

To perform a search, you will need to provide the licensee's name or license number. The results will include the licensee's current status, expiration date, and any disciplinary actions. The DRE's online license search is a quick and easy way to verify the license and status of a real estate agent or broker in California.

It is important to use only reliable sources, such as the DRE website, when checking the license of a real estate professional in California.

Do You Have to Be a Real Estate Agent if You Get a Salesperson License?

No! There are tons of ways you can make money with a real estate license. You do not have to be a real estate agent. In fact, there is a good portion of students who get their license to then become property managers, educators, or referral agents.

A real estate license can help you go into different fields and start new careers. Best of all, if you want to help a friend or family member sell or buy a house, you have your license ready to go in your back pocket.

Final Thoughts on Getting a Real Estate License in California

A career in real estate is best for those who enjoy working on their own terms. Deciding to become a real estate agent is easy. But, you need gusto to create a successful career.

A real estate career requires hard work and self-investment. But, the results are life-changing. By following the steps above and learning as much as you can, you will set yourself up for that success.

TL;DR: To become a real estate agent in California, you have to get your real estate license. That means you have to complete your pre-licensing education requirement and pass the real estate exam. Once you do that, you can get your license and sign with a brokerage, which will make you an official real estate agent. CA Realty Training will help you complete your pre-licensing education and connect you with a real estate brokerage.

Feb 13, 2023
How To
7 min