California Real Estate License: How to Get Yours

by Jordan Fabel | Last Updated: October 2, 2021

When you’re ready to become a California real estate agent, you need to get your license first. It’s not as simple as just passing a test. Getting a California real estate license requires you to know how to complete the entire process, and you will need to meet certain general requirements.

How To Get Your California Real Estate License

How to Get Your California Real Estate License

It’s necessary to qualify for and pass a written exam to get your real estate license in California. After passing the exam, you will still need to submit your license application and get it approved by the California Department of Real Estate or DRE.

It’s required in California to have a responsible broker if you plan to perform acts that require a real estate license. You must obtain your license if you plan to conduct real estate activities under a licensed broker.

General Requirements

You must be at least 18 years of age or older to earn your California real estate license. It’s also important to be a California resident, although there is a process for non-residents to get their real estate license within the state.

Any applicant trying to learn how to get a California real estate license will also need to be honest and truthful. If you have been convicted of a crime, it may result in your license applications being denied by the DRE.

Course Requirements

You will need to complete three college-level real estate courses to qualify for the real estate salesperson exam along with the basic requirements. All applicants will need to complete the Real Estate Principles course and Real Estate Practice course. Along with these two courses, you will also need to complete one of the following courses:

If you are already a member of the California State Bar, you are exempt from the college-level course requirements after providing proof of your membership. In addition, if you have completed eight college-level courses required for the broker exam and license, you will be eligible to take the salesperson exam without having to take additional courses.

All courses will need to be three-semester units or four-quarter units and will need to be completed at an accredited institution recognized by the United States Department of Education or a private real estate school approved by the California Real Estate Commissioner. Courses will be at least 45 hours long, with a total of 135 hours of pre-licensing education.

After completing the proper courses, the next step in getting your California Real Estate license is to apply for the salesperson exam and pass a criminal background check. You will also submit your fingerprints.

Once you have been cleared to take the examination, you will need to score at least 70% to pass. If you pass, you will still need to gain sponsorship from a licensed California broker and complete the California Real Estate License application.

Completing Your Real Estate License Courses Online

You don’t have to sit in a classroom to earn your real estate license in California. With the right online program, you can take all the necessary pre-licensing courses and qualify for the salesperson or broker exam.

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Taking your real estate license courses online in California means you get to work at your own pace and gain access to prep tools for the exam. If you’re trying to work through your courses as fast as possible, this offers a huge benefit. You can complete the required 135 hours in as little as eight weeks by using an online real estate program. You can work through the courses as fast or as slow as you prefer.

Many of the top online real estate schools offer multiple packages to choose from. You can get just the courses you need, or you can choose a package with exam prep and even a pass guarantee. Some online programs even include the necessary continuing education for your first few years.

How to Choose a Good Online Real Estate School in California

When you want to complete the pre-licensing courses in California online, you want to make sure you choose a good online real estate school for your courses. There are several factors to consider when making this decision.


Of course, the cost of an online real estate license course will make a difference. These courses can range from about $100 to $1,000, depending on the materials you want and the school you choose. The lower-cost options will likely give you just the basics you need to complete your pre-licensing courses and prepare for the exam. More expensive options often offer more tools and help to ensure you’re ready to pass the exam the first time.

The online courses you choose will also be more expensive if you choose an actual instructor compared to a self-study course. Many of the online real estate schools approved in California offer self-study options, courses with instructors, and even live instructor-taught courses. The option you choose will help to determine the total cost you will pay for your pre-licensing courses.


Real estate laws are updated often, so you want to make sure you choose an online real estate school with up-to-date content. It’s important to make sure they are using the most recent content, or you might not be fully prepared for your exam.


Some California online real estate schools offer money-back guarantees and pass guarantees. Read these guarantees carefully and make sure you do what’s necessary to qualify.


It’s also a good idea to read reviews from past students from schools you are interested in. They can tell you quite a bit about an online real estate school, both good and bad.

Use these tips to ensure you choose the best option for your pre-licensing courses.

Completing Your Pre-Licensing Courses on the Go with a Busy Schedule

Maybe you already have a job and a family to support. It’s not possible for you to take classes in a classroom to get your real estate license. Online real estate courses give you a great option to get your California real estate license when you already have a busy schedule.

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There are several options you can choose from, and you can work on your own time. Some courses offer audio versions you can listen to, while others offer interactive videos. Most are split into easily digestible lessons making it simple to complete a lesson while commuting or on your lunch break.

Online real estate courses are designed for people who don’t have the time to sit in a classroom.

Choose the Right Sponsor Broker

When it comes to getting your California real estate license, you might get caught up with the coursework and the exam, which is understandable. However, another important part of the process is choosing your sponsoring broker. The broker you choose is an important decision.

Make sure you find a California real estate broker you believe is a good fit for you. A good broker will help you become a better agent compared to just choosing any ole’ broker.

Do your research on all of the following:

Look into each broker you consider thoroughly and don’t just settle for any broker. You want a broker you feel confident you can find success with to ensure you’re on the right path to a career in real estate you can be proud of.

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting a California Real Estate License

Is the California real estate license exam difficult?

It’s hard to say whether this exam will be difficult for you or not. Each student is different, but you can make the exam easier with the proper preparations. Choosing an online real estate program with pre-licensing classes and exam preparation materials offers a great way to prepare for the real exam.

What will the California State Licensing Exam cover?

The real estate salesperson exam in California will cover seven topics including:

How many questions are found on the CA real estate licensing exam?

The salesperson licensing exam in California consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. You will have three hours to complete the exam, and you must get at least 70% of the questions correct to pass. This means you can miss up to 45 questions and still pass.

How long will it take to get my California real estate license?

Most new real estate agents will take five to six months to complete the requirements and get a California real estate license. It depends on how quickly you work through the 135 hours of pre-licensing courses and whether or not you pass the licensing exam on the first try. It might also take one agent longer than another to find a sponsoring broker and complete the application process.

What is the cost of the California Real Estate License exam?

The salesperson exam in California costs $60, while the broker exam costs $90. If you have to retake the exam, you will need to pay a second fee of the same amount.

Do I have to pay other fees to get my real estate license in California?

Yes, along with the fee to take the exam, you will also pay a $245 license fee as a salesperson and a $300 license fee as a broker. You may also need to pay a fee for your fingerprints, which won’t include the cost of the pre-licensing courses.

How many times am I allowed to take the California real estate license exam?

There is no limit in the state of California when it comes to how many times you can take the licensing exam. But you will have to pay an additional exam fee each time.

Where do I go to take the California Real Estate Licensing exam?

Five cities in California offer an electronic format for the real estate licensing course, which are:

The most current information for locations where exams are held is found on the California Bureau of Real Estate website.

Still Thinking About a California Real Estate License?

Maybe you’re sick of your current career, or you’re just ready to enter the lucrative real estate market in California. Whether you want to become a full-time or part-time real estate agent, you need to know how to get your California real estate license. There are a few different ways to complete your pre-licensing courses, but the process is pretty straightforward.

Choose the right online real estate school for your needs, and you can complete the required 135 hours of coursework on your time in the comfort of your home. Even if you don’t have a busy schedule, you can use online real estate courses to work through the material faster and get into the real estate business sooner.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!