How to Get Your California Real Estate License

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

Getting your California Real Estate License is the first step to becoming a real estate agent in California. Nowadays, this process can be done almost entirely online. You will still need to take your California real estate license exam in person, but the rest of the process can be completed entirely online!

This article outlines how to become a real estate agent in California in an easy to understand, step-by-step manner. You’ll learn how much it will cost, how long it will take, what is on the exam, and much more.

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

Becoming a real estate agent in California is as simple as getting your license, finding a broker sponsor, and getting to work selling real estate! As long as you fulfill the below requirements, you are already on your way to your goal.

California Real Estate License Requirements

The requirements to become a real estate agent in California are:

  • Be a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be honest and truthful in your background check

How to Get Your Real Estate License in California

Step 1. Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course

You are now ready to begin your real estate pre-licensing education. California requires that real estate sales agents complete 135 hours of pre-license coursework prior to sitting for their exam. This coursework will consist of Real Estate Principles (45 hours), Real Estate Practices (45 hours), and one elective (45 hours) from the list below.

  • 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

Most people choose to take their pre-license education course online. The majority of online courses are self-paced and include study materials like real estate practice exams and flashcards. Some also come with a “guarantee” that you will pass the exam on your first attempt if you complete their course. These benefits are all dependent on the education provider and package you choose, so be sure to get the course that best suits your needs.

Remember that the point of these courses isn’t just to check a box and complete a requirement, but rather to prepare you to pass your exam and become a better agent.

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California does not require the final pre-license exam to be supervised by a proctor. This is not the same as the state exam. This test is provided by your pre-license education company and is an indication that you have completed and retained the information from your pre-license education course.

Similar to the state exam, this test is closed-book and closed-note. You are allowed a basic-function calculator and scratch paper, but no cell phones or outside internet access.

Step 2. California Real Estate License Exam

After you’ve completed your pre-license education, it is time to apply for the California Real Estate Exam.

The fee to take the Salesperson exam is $60 per attempt.

The California Real Estate Exam consists of 150 questions. You will have 180 minutes (3 hours) to complete the entire exam.

You will need to complete and submit a Salesperson Examination Application and submit it along with the required fee and transcripts showing successful completion of the pre-licensing hours.

Once qualified, an Examination Schedule Notice – or an authorization to self-schedule – will be sent to you. Use the eLicensing online system to check your exam date or to self-schedule.

Examination scheduling is based on the volume of applications received by the DRE. Exam availability is subject to the seating capacity of the facility and the demand for that site.

Exams are generally administered in the following areas:

  • Fresno – Exams conducted in this location are offered in an electronic format
  • San Diego – Exams conducted in this location are offered in an electronic format
  • Los Angeles Vicinity – Exams conducted in this location are offered in an electronic format
  • Oakland – Exams conducted in this location are offered in an electronic format
  • Sacramento – Exams conducted in this location are offered in an electronic format

How Hard is the California Real Estate Exam

The passing rate for the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 70%. This test is purposefully difficult, but not impossible. Be sure to pay attention during your pre-license course and take studying seriously. If you put the proper effort forth, we know that you can pass on your first attempt!

Here are some other helpful resources, including the Exam FAQs and California Real Estate Exam Content Outline.

Before taking the exam, check out StateRequirement’s guide on How to Pass the Real Estate Exam. This in-depth guide works as a great partner to your pre-license course to prepare you to pass on your first attempt!

Step 3. Fingerprinting and Background Check

After passing your examination, the next step is to complete your fingerprinting and background check. The California Department of Real Estate requires that all applicants have a background check performed before they can become a licensed real estate agent in California.

Fingerprints must be submitted electronically through the Department Of Justice’s Live Scan Program which takes and transmits fingerprints to the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). To be fingerprinted, take the Live Scan Service Request (RE 237) to a participating live scan service provider.

An original license will not be issued until a report from the DOJ and the FBI is received stating that there is no criminal record, or disclosing criminal history information, which then must be reviewed and evaluated.

The fee to complete your fingerprinting services is $49 plus the live scan processing and service fee, which should be paid directly to the live scan provider.

Completing and turning in your fingerprints will begin the background check process. The California Department of Real Estate will review any findings in your background report to ensure your eligibility. During this process, they may reach out to you to provide additional information or documentation to clear up any findings.

For those who have criminal offenses or judgments against them, there’s a possibility that you may not be eligible for a real estate license in California. When this occurs, you will be given 60 days from the date of denial to request a hearing to contest the Department’s denial.


If you aren’t sure whether you are eligible for a real estate license based on your history, check out our article on Real Estate License Eligibility.

Step 4. Real Estate License Application

Once you have completed your exams and fingerprinting, you are now ready to apply for your California Real Estate license.

The fee for this application is $245.

You can fill out your application online using California’s eLicensing online system.

Step 5. Application Review

Once you’ve completed your exam and application, you will only need to wait for your background report to come back as a pass. After this, you should receive an email from the California Real Estate Department with a license document. Use eLicensing to expedite the processing of your application. Evidence of completion of the pre-licensing education must be on file before your license is issued.


Be sure to take some time to celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve put in a lot of work and effort and deserve a celebration!

Step 6. Real Estate License Sponsorship

In order to “activate” your license, you will need to be sponsored by a licensed real estate broker in California.

If you don’t yet have a broker to work with check out StateRequirement Jobs for a real estate salesperson opening in your area.

CREC – California Department of Real Estate

Mailing Address: 

California Department of Real Estate
1651 Exposition Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95815

Phone: (877) 373-4542

Fax: (916) 263-8943


California Real Estate License FAQ

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Real Estate License in California?

In California, getting a salesperson license involves costs for the real estate course and other fees. The total estimated expense ranges from $474 to $804. This includes $355 for all California fees and an estimated $119 to $449 for real estate pre-licensing education, offered by some of California’s best real estate schools.

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

Pursuing a California real estate license can take three to six months, with the bulk of time spent on pre-license education from an approved real estate school. If you study full-time, you can potentially finish in two months. It’s important to progress at your own pace as you prepare for your final exam and work towards your real estate career.

How to Get a California Commercial Real Estate License?

To sell commercial real estate in California, you need a Salesperson or Broker license. There is no separate license for commercial real estate agents. You can choose to work with a broker that specializes in commercial deals. You can get these real estate licenses by completing education, passing an exam, and submitting an application.

Are There any Real Estate Jobs Open Around Me?

If you’re a California resident with a real estate salesperson license or real estate broker license, you can explore numerous opportunities in the real estate industry. To find open real estate jobs near you, check out StateRequirement Jobs which is an excellent resource for any real estate professional seeking new career paths within the state.

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