How to Become a Real Estate Broker in California

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: June 4, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Real Estate
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There are many good reasons to become a real estate broker in California. You will need to be an agent first, but this is a big career step. As a real estate broker, you gain the ability to make more money and advance your career.

You cannot become a broker without the right education, however. If you’re interested in becoming a real estate broker in California, you should know what this will mean. Let’s look at the job duties, the steps, and a few common questions about becoming a broker in CA.

Job Duties of a Real Estate Broker

As a real estate broker, you will have responsibilities you didn’t have as an agent. Often, this job is referred to as a managing real estate broker. This means you oversee real estate transactions between sellers and buyers. You will help with drafting contracts, negotiating prices, and leading a team of agents to help get the deals closed.

Your job duties and responsibilities will likely include:

As a broker, you will likely spend more time working with your agents than anything else. It’s common for real estate brokers in California to take on their own clients, as well. They will have many responsibilities similar to agents, but can also oversee a team of agents.

How to Become a Real Estate Broker in California in 6 Steps

Step #1 – Meet the Basic Requirements

The first thing you have to do is meet the basic requirements to become a broker. You will need to be at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of the United States. It’s also important to have at least two years of full-time experience as a licensed real estate salesperson within the past five years.

If you have not worked as a salesperson, you can get a four-year degree with a major or minor in real estate to qualify. As long as you meet these requirements, you can move on to the next step.

Step #2 – Complete the Eight Broker Courses

These eight courses are college-level courses and you might complete them to get a degree. However, if you didn’t get a degree, you can complete these courses before you take the broker exam.

The eight courses you will need to complete are:

Along with these set courses, you will also take three elective courses in real estate. It’s possible to take both Real Estate Economics and Real Estate Accounting, and then only two elective courses.

All of these courses can be taken from an accredited institution of higher learning or from a real estate school approved by the state. Some, if not all, courses will likely be offered online and you can complete them at your own pace.

Step #3 – Get Fingerprinted

If you haven’t been fingerprinted to become a real estate agent in CA, you will need to complete this step. Those that qualify to become a broker by getting a four-year degree will need to get fingerprinted before moving forward with the rest of the process.

This process includes a thorough background check. You will need to pay a $49 fee and have your fingerprints taken before you take the exam.

Step #4 – Submit your Exam and License Application and Fees

You will only be able to submit your application after completing the eight broker courses and getting fingerprinted. once you reach this point, you will need to attach all necessary documents to prove you have completed the courses. There is a checklist with the application to help make it easy.

The application will give you the option to schedule your exam or choose self-schedule. Of course, you will also need to pay all fees and send the application to the Department of Real Estate in California.

The process will take around six to eight weeks once you submit your application.

Step #5 – Schedule the Exam

After your application has been submitted, you can schedule your exam. If you chose the DRE schedule, you will receive a notice with your date, time, and location. Those that choose self-schedule, will need to use the eLearning online system to schedule the exam.

Step #6 – Pass the Broker Exam

The final step in this process is passing the real estate broker exam in California. This exam isn’t easy and it will require you to be well-prepared. You get five total hours with two sessions to complete a total of 200 multiple-choice questions. The categories on the exam include:

You take the exam in electronic format, which means you get your results immediately. It’s necessary to score a 75% or higher to get your broker license.

After you complete these steps, you will just need to wait a few days to receive your California broker license.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Real Estate Broker in California

How much can I make as a broker in California?

Depending on the source you choose to believe, you can make between $62K and $300K per year as a real estate broker in CA. You can earn more as these are just average numbers. Salary.com puts the range between $62K and $88K. However, Indeed.com puts the salary average at $803K per year.

However, brokers can earn a much larger amount each year. The average number from Indeed is actually all brokers, not just real estate brokers. You can earn well over $100K a year if you’re a top broker in California.

Your location might make a difference, too. In California, San Jose, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego, and Sacramento have the highest average salaries for brokers.

How long does it take to become a real estate broker in CA?

It’s possible to get a broker license in California in less than a year. However, it can take longer, depending on how new you are to the real estate industry. It can take as long as three years to meet all the requirements in California to become a real estate broker.

Once you complete the basic requirements, you can complete the required coursework in as little as 90 days. However, most brokers will need more time to complete the courses, especially if you’re working as an agent.

After everything is completed, it takes six to eight weeks to have your application processed. Then, you still need to take the test, which will likely eat up a few more weeks. Once you pass the test, you will likely receive your broker license in less than a week.

What happens if I don’t pass the exam the first time?

If you fail the broker exam in California, you can retake it without resubmitting your application. You will use the eLicensing system to reschedule your next exam time. It’s possible to take the broker exam as many times as you need to pass it, within a two-year period.

Does California offer reciprocity with any other states for a broker license?

No, if you want to become a broker in California, you will have to go through the steps above. However, if you’re a broker in another state, you can conduct business in California remotely. The state of California doesn’t have any reciprocity agreements with any other states. However, you don’t have to be a resident of CA to become a broker in CA. You will need to keep a business address in California, though.

Who will I report to as a real estate broker?

You will likely report to the California real estate commission. this is where you will get new information about new real estate laws. It’s also common for brokers to indirectly report to the clients of their agents.

Can I take the broker license courses online?

Yes, there are courses you can take that qualify you to become a real estate broker in CA online. You can also use online exam prep for the broker exam. With the right package, you can meet all the requirements and pass the exam the first time you take it.

What does it cost to become a real estate broker in California?

You will need to pay a $95 fee to take the examination and to take any re-examination. It’s also necessary to pay a $300 license fee. Along with these fees, you will need to pay for the courses. The cost of the courses will vary, depending on whether you take them online, through a college, or from a private real estate school.

There are many good reasons to become a real estate broker in California. Use these steps to lead you to your new career as a broker.

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!