How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

Posted On: November 25, 2015
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

f you would like to become a real estate agent in the state of California, you can't simply recruit clients and start administering property deals on their behalf. There are some requirements that prospective California real estate agents must to collect commissions on properties that are bought, sold and leased with their assistance legally. Let's take a look at everything one must accomplish and know before launching a career as a real estate professional in the state of California.

General Requirements

To become a real estate agent in California, an individual must meet a wide range of requirements. The prospective real estate agent must be a minimum of 18 years of age before he can begin working in such a capacity. Every candidate is required to prove that he is a legal resident of the United States and a high school graduate. Candidates must be of good character and honest as a failure to disclose any prior criminal offenses or disciplinary action will be grounds for a denial of a California real estate license. However, the conviction of a crime will not always result in a denial of the California real estate license. To become a broker, a candidate must have a minimum of two years’ worth of experience as a full-time licensed salesperson within the past five years. This work must be performed under the supervision of a professional with experience as a broker or salesman. Or, if the candidate can prove that he has obtained the equivalent of this amount of experience, he will satisfy the experience component. Valid documentation to prove the candidate's experience can be presented on the state's Employment Verification RE 226 form. This form is prepared by the candidate's employing broker/salesperson. Those who would like more information about to the experience requirements for California's Broker Examination should visit the state's Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Real Estate page on the World Wide Web.

Course Requirements

Prospective real estate agents in the state of California must complete a total of 135 hours worth of required education. If an individual fails to complete 135 hours worth of BRE-approved college level real estate classes, he will not be able to apply for the California Real Estate Exam. Prospective real estate agents will be happy to know that a myriad of qualified education options is available through the country's leading real estate school, is CalBRE approved, provides the fast and easy real estate education you are looking for along with an open book final exam. It's a much better option than staring at the screen for 135 hours worth of online classes.

Steps on How to Get a Real Estate License in California

For an individual to even apply to take the license exam in the state of California, he must complete the above mentioned educational requirements. Those who meet all of the above criteria to qualify for a seat at the California Salesperson License Exam must achieve a score of 70 percent or higher to pass. It is advisable to enroll in an exam prep courses to boost one's odds of passing. Such a preparatory course will assist prospective real estate agents in their quest to understand key concepts and subject areas that will appear on the exam.

  1. Get Fingerprinted. All California real estate agents must get fingerprinted by way of an approved Live Scan provider. Each candidate must also pass a comprehensive background check as well. It is worth noting that there is a fee of $56 to have the fingerprinting done as a result of the real estate exam application process. Those who do not reside in California can still qualify as real estate agents within the state if they meet certain criteria. These individuals are required to submit their fingerprints to the CalBRE. Out-of-state applicants will be sent a fingerprint card with their original license application as well. This should be brought to the applicant's local law enforcement agency to be completed. Out-of-state applicants must then pay the fingerprint fee to the CalBRE and provide their finalized fingerprint card, license fee, and original license application.
  2. Obtain the California Real Estate Agent Examination Application. Reach out to the California Department of Real Estate, commonly referred to the acronym of “DRE”, in-person or online through the organization's website to obtain the California Real Estate Agent Examination application. This application must be completed in its entirety and submitted with the appropriate fees to the California Department of Real Estate.
  3. California Real Estate Broker Examination Specifics.  The California Real Estate Agent Examination takes about 5 hours to complete. It is divided into two distinct testing sessions that each last two and a half hours. Each session includes 100 multiple choice questions. The California Real Estate Agent Examination can be taken at different facilities throughout the state. These sites are located in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland and Fresno. The scheduling dates are determined by the number of California Real Estate Agent applications received. Seat availability is determined by the number of seats at each testing site and the number of candidates who request to take the exam at those sites. Those who take the computerized version of the test will be given their test results as they leave the testing facility. All other exam takers will receive their results through USPS mail within the next five business days.
  4. Applying for the California Real Estate License. Those who pass the California real estate license exam will receive a license application. This must be submitted along with course transcripts and the license application to the California Bureau of Real Estate. The license will not be issued until the applicant provides evidence that he has completed all the required courses outlined above along with his residency information and fingerprints.

How Much is the Salary Range for a Real Estate Agent in California?

Obtaining a real estate license in the state of California can put you on the fast track to success. California real estate agents are handsomely compensated. Many out-earn professionals in other industries. It is important to note that California real estate agent salaries differ by locale. Some towns have egregiously expensive properties that empower real estate agents to take home monstrous commissions. Other areas are more moderately priced, allowing real estate agents to make more than a living wage but not top the six-figure mark. Alternatively, reports that the average salary for California real estate agents is $82,000, representing 7 percent more compensation than the average real estate agent across the United States. When it comes to real estate, the bottom line is that an agent's ability to close deals will determine his salary. If he closes a considerable number of property transactions, he will undoubtedly pile up the commissions and make an excellent salary.

Finding a Real Estate Broker

As you complete the requirements necessary to become a real estate broker in the state of California, it is imperative that you search for a qualified real estate broker. The surprising truth is that any new real estate agent's California real estate license will remain inactive until it is eventually posted within the office of a broker where he intends to work. Do not haphazardly select a broker in an effort to get the ball rolling on your career as a real estate agent. Be highly selective as you consider the merits of each broker. There are all sorts of nuances to consider such as office expenses, the splitting of commissions and lead generation. The state requires that all real estate agents accept payments strictly through brokers so you should have one in mind as you apply for your real estate license. While it is possible for a license to be obtained by an individual who does not have designs to be employed through a real estate broker, such a person is not legally permitted to perform acts that require a real estate license.

License Renewal and Costs to Consider

Once you obtain your California real estate license, you will be required to renew the license every four years from the date that the license is issued. To renew the license, you must finish 45 hours worth of continuing education. All real estate agent applicants in the state of California must pay a California examination fee for their real estate agent license. This equates to $60. There is a renewal fee of $245. The California examination fee for the broker's license is $95 with a renewal fee of $300.


All prospective California real estate agents should know that the state of California, as well as all other states, update their requirements regularly. Before you take the exam, you should check in with the state to verify that you have a firm grasp on all of California's unique licensing requirements.


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