How To Become A Real Estate Agent In California

Whether you're trying to earn your real estate license or work towards your renewal, we can easily help you satisfy your California training needs with us.

Our courses are approved by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) and provide online, self-paced study. Fulfill your real estate educational requirements on your own schedule.

What Are California's Real Estate Pre-Licensing Education Requirements?

The California DRE requires 135 hours of pre-license coursework from an approved provider like AgentCampus by 360training.

That includes a 45-hour Real Estate Principles course, a 45-hour Real Estate Practice course, and an approved 45-hour elective.

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California 135 Hour Basic Salesperson Prelicense Package

Get required DRE-approved pre-license courses plus free real estate math practice.

100.00 79.00
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California 135 Hour Premium Salesperson Prelicense Package

Includes mandatory pre-license training, state license exam prep, and more!

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Who is Eligible to Become a Real Estate Agent in California?

To become licensed in California, you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have California residency or meet certain out-of-state requirements
  • Disclose any criminal convictions, violations, or disciplinary actions from your past.

Certain infractions will bar you from getting a license, but so will lying about your criminal history on your application. And you'll forfeit the application fee. But if you're honest, you may be able to earn rehabilitation for licensing purposes.

What Else Do I Need to Do to Earn My California Real Estate License?

In addition to the 135 hours of pre-licensing education, you need to:

  1. Pass the licensing exam
  2. Get fingerprinted by the DOJ's Live Scan Program
  3. Submit your license application and send in the required fees

But the process is a little more complicated than that. There are two different applications – first, you apply to sit for the exam, then you apply for your license.  There are also two different methods to complete the process: the traditional method and the combined application.

What is the Combined Application and Do I Want It?

The DRE gives you two different paths for turning in your paperwork. Either you submit the Exam and License Applications for separate processing, or you submit them at the same time.

The combined application is faster by 4-8 weeks, but it requires more money up front. So if you're in a hurry and money's not a concern, the combo application is the way to go. If you're cash-strapped and willing to wait, separate applications might be best.

The steps for each process are below.

Separate Exam + License Application Process

  • Complete required coursework
  • Submit the Salesperson Examination Application with exam fee
  • Wait 4-8 weeks for the DRE to qualify you for the exam
  • Schedule, take, and pass the exam
  • Get DOJ Live Scan fingerprinted
  • Submit Form RE435 for License ONLY with the license fee
  • Wait 4-8 weeks for the DRE to approve your license
  • Get to work

Combined Exam/License Application Process

  • Complete required coursework
  • Submit Form RE435 for Exam AND License with both exam and license fees
  • Wait 4-8 weeks for the DRE to qualify you for the exam
  • Get DOJ Live Scan fingerprinted
  • Schedule, take, and pass the exam
  • Get your license issued immediately at the exam site (as long as everything else has cleared)
  • Get to work

What is the California Real Estate Licensing Exam Like?

Once your exam application has been processed, you have 2 years to pass the licensing exam.

Exams are only conducted in 5 locations (Fresno, San Diego, La Palma, Oakland, and Sacramento), so you may need to plan for travel.

Start times are either 8:30am or 1pm, but you should arrive early to be safe – if you're late, they won't let you take the exam. They're also strict about not allowing you to bring anything inside except for an accepted form of ID.

The licensing exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering 7 subject areas. You have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam.

You'll learn whether you passed or failed before you leave the test center. If you fail, you'll learn what score you received in each subject area, so you know where to focus your studies.

What is the Deadline for my California Real Estate License Application?

You have one year after passing the license exam to submit the application, required fingerprinting, and fee.

 

What Are the First Renewal Requirements in California?

The California DRE has a slightly different set of continuing education requirements for the first renewal of your salesperson or broker license.

The total hours and frequency are the same as a normal renewal – 45 hours every 4 years – but the required courses are a little different.

For California salespersons, their first renewal requires:

  • 15 hours of mandatory topics (five 3-hour courses)
  • At least 18 hours devoted to Consumer Protection topics
  • The remaining 12 hours devoted to either consumer protection or consumer service

The first-time renewal requirements as a broker are the same, except for one additional mandatory course in Management and Supervision. 

 

What Are California's Continuing Education Requirements for Real Estate?

California requires you to complete 45 Continuing Education hours from an approved provider every 4 years. For second and subsequent renewals, those course hours include:

  • At least 8 hours covering six mandatory topics
  • At least 18 hours devoted to Consumer Protection topics
  • The remaining 21 hours devoted to either consumer protection or consumer service

You can apply for renewal through their electronic system. It's important to renew on time, because although you have a two-year late renewal period, you won't be able to perform licensed activities after your expiration hits.

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California 45-Hour Broker & Salesperson Subsequent Renewal CE Package

Meet CE requirements for second/subsequent renewal as a salesperson or broker.

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California 45-Hour Broker First Renewal CE Package

Satisfy your first-renewal broker CE requirements with this DRE-approved package.

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California 45-Hour Sales Person First Renewal CE Package

Get all required course credits for your first salesperson license renewal.

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What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with a California Real Estate License?

Earning a real estate license in California will qualify you for a number of different careers, including:

  • Residential real estate agent
  • Commercial real estate agent
  • Real estate broker
  • Property manager

Each real estate career has a wide selection of specialties and niches to choose from. Some specialties pay more than others, but those often necessitate further licensing or certification.

For an idea of your potential salary in California, we can look at average wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Job Title Average Hourly Wage Average Yearly Wage
Sales Agents $28.77 $59,830
Brokers $32.88 $68,390
Property Managers $29.65 $61,660

Your income as a real estate agent is usually commission-based, so it differs a lot from person to person. Some people work part time to earn supplemental income. On the other hand, the top earners in California (the 90th percentile of sales agents) make $127,800.

You can learn more about different career options, real estate speialties, and how commissions work by checking out our Resources page for more info.

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