How to Get a Real Estate License in California

Real Estate Salesperson License Requirements

Getting a real estate license in any state can be a bit overwhelming. But earning a real estate license in California is simple if you follow a few easy steps.

The California Department of Real Estate (CDRE) requires individuals to complete the following 6 steps to receive a salesperson license.

  • Complete 135 Hours of Approved Pre-License Education
  • Pass the Course Final Exam
  • Pass a Criminal Background Check
  • Pass the California Salesperson License Exam
  • Find a Sponsoring Broker to Work Under
  • Complete Your Licensing Application

Reasons To Get A California Real Estate License

The requirements to get a real estate license vary in each state. However, it takes just a few simple steps to get a real estate license in California. Hopeful licensees can have their real estate license in several weeks.

The national average real estate salary is $48,930. The average starting real estate salary in California is $59,830 and typically grows with experience. Agents with more experience make more than $150,000.

Different states require between 20 to over 200 hours of pre-license coursework before taking the exams and earning a license. California requires 135 hours of pre-licensing courses.

You need to be at least 18 years old and have no criminal record to qualify for your California salesperson license.

Did you know that you can get your California real estate license entirely online? You can complete California real estate education online at your own pace!

Steps to Get a Real Estate License in California


  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be either a California resident or apply for an out-of-state license
  • You must be honest and truthful. Conviction of a crime could result in license denial.
  • Complete 135 Hours of Pre-License Education through an Approved School

    The California pre-licensing education is divided into three sections. Hopeful licensees complete the following courses:

    • Real Estate Principles (45 Hours)
    • Real Estate Practice (45 Hours)
    • Any one of the following 45-Hour classes:
      • Real Estate Appraisal
      • Property Management
      • Real Estate Finance
      • Real Estate Economics
      • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
      • Real Estate Office Administration
      • General Accounting
      • Business Law, Escrows
      • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
      • Computer Applications in Real Estate
      • Common Interest Developments
    Education Requirements for CA Sales Agents
    Education Requirements for CA Sales Agents
  • Pass the Course Final Exam

    After you complete all the California course materials, you must pass the final exams.

    A score of 70% is required to pass this exam. Each participant has two attempts to pass each course exam. One minute is the allotted time to answer each question.

  • Pass a Criminal Background Check

  • Pass the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam

    Once you feel confident enough to pass your final exam, apply to take the California real estate salesperson exam.

    First, complete an application. After your application is processed, check your exam date on the eLicensing online system.

    The minimum passing score is 70%, which means you must correctly answer 105 out of 150 questions.

  • Find a Sponsoring Broker to Work for

    To work as a real estate agent in California, a licensee needs to be sponsored by an active California broker. This person will serve as your mentor as you start your new career in real estate.

    Here are some questions to consider during your search for a sponsoring broker:

    • What is their overall reputation?
    • Are they advanced in their specialty?
    • Are they up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations?
    • To what extent do they support their agents?
    • What kind of commission structure do they offer? Are there benefits?
    • What quality of leads and marketing material do they offer their agents?
    • Is there potential to grow within the brokerage?
  • Complete the License Application

    Once you meet all of the prior requirements, finalize your application.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A California Real Estate License?

Depending on what real estate school a hopeful licensee decides to attend, it costs $445-$800+ to get a California real estate license. The most expensive and important purchase is that of real estate school. The cost of real estate courses depends on both the school and the package that a potential licensee chooses. Here are the required fees:

Course Tuition $100 - $400+
Background Check $40
Salesperson License Fee $245
Examination Fee $60
Total $445 - $745

How Long Does It Take to Get a California Real Estate License?

It takes an average of four (4) months to obtain your California real estate license. But, many people take far less or far more time to get their California real estate license. You can obtain a license in just a few weeks. Or, you can take your time and earn your license over the course of a year.

The amount of time it takes to obtain a license depends on the type of pre-license coursework a potential licensee decides to take and their pace to complete the courses.

An individual completes courses at their own pace when completing their real estate school online. Online courses are helpful if an individual wants to complete their studies faster or if they need to take additional time on their coursework.

In a classroom setting, an individual must follow along at the pace of the class. This option is suitable for individuals who want to connect with classmates and are more motivated in a classroom setting.

What Kind of Jobs Can You 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 (Buyer's Agent or Seller's 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.

Real Estate Agent Essentials