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If you’d like to become a real estate agent in California, it helps to understand everything involved before you start the process. Here, we’ll cover the benefits of the profession as well as everything that is required to receive your license.

There are a number of steps in the California real estate licensing process, so we’ve broken it down to keep things simple. To get your license, you will need to:

Step 1: Complete Pre-License Education
Step 2: Pass the Course Exam
Step 3: Complete a Background Check
Step 4: Pass the California Real Estate Licensing Exam
Step 5: Choose a Sponsoring Broker
Step 6: Submit a Real Estate License Application

Before explaining each step, consider if becoming a California real estate agent is right for you.

The Benefits of Working as a California Real Estate Agent

At, the average salary for a real estate agent in California is listed as $47,000 to $61,000 per year. This varies depending on your commission percentage, the number of homes you sell, if you have any caps, what your split is with your broker, and the value of the homes sold.

In California, the average price of a home is around $699,000. Real estate agents often make a 5% commission on sales, which would be $34,950.

Salary aside, becoming a real estate agent includes these other benefits:

  • Flexibility in your schedule
  • Unlimited income potential
  • Career mobility
  • Helping people
  • Familiarity with your community and neighborhoods
  • Varying environments and tasks

If this sounds like a good fit for you, these are the things you should consider next.

Do You Prequalify?

To prequalify as an California real estate agent, you need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • If you are not a resident of California, see the Out-of-State Applicant information
  • Be honest and truthful – failure to disclose information about criminal or violations can result in the denial of a license.

As long as you meet these prerequisites, you can take the next steps towards obtaining your license.

1. Complete Pre-License Education

To qualify as a real estate agent in California. you need to complete 135 hours of pre-license  education. The 3 courses can be taken in a live classroom or online, and there are a number of real estate institutes available across California.

The courses are:

  • Real Estate Principles (45 hours)
  • Real Estate Practices (45 hours)
  • Real Estate Finance (45 hours)

2. Pass the Course Exams

The 3 final course exams can be scheduled through the real estate school that you take classes through. To pass the exams and earn your certificate, you need to get a score of at least 70% on each test. You get two attempts to pass each exam, and are allowed 1 minute to answer each question.

3. Complete a Background Check

To apply for your California real estate license, you need to complete a background check with the California State Department of Justice. You can submit your fingerprints electronically through the DOJ’s Live Scan Program using the Live Scan Service Request form.

There is a $60 fee for the live scan.

4. Pass the California Real Estate Licensing Exam

You can apply to take the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam online, by mail or by fax. You will start this process at the California Department of Real Estate website.  Once the DRE processes your application, if you are eligible to take the exam you will receive an Examination Schedule Notice including instructions on reserving your exam date. Once you have the Examination Schedule Notice, you can register for your exam through PSI, an outside agency. The fee for the exam is $60, and you need to pay this with your application (via check, money order, or credit card).

On the day of the exam, you will need to bring two (2) forms of ID.

Once you’re in the exam site, you will need to place all electronic devices, bulky clothing, and other personal items in a secure location. You will then sit at a computer to take the test.

The exam is 3 hours and is made up of 150 questions covering 7 main topics. These are:

  • Property ownership and land use controls and regulations
  • Laws of agency and fiduciary duties
  • Property valuation and financial analysis
  • Financing
  • Transfer of property
  • Practice of real estate and disclosures
  • Contracts

To pass this exam, you need a score of at least 70%. Your score will be given to you as soon as the exam is completed.

5. Obtain a Sponsoring Broker

To become a licensed and practicing real estate agent in California, you need to be associated with a registered brokerage firm or broker. Before submitting your application, you’ll need to have secured this sponsorship. It’s important to choose the right broker, as they’ll play a key role in growing your real estate career.

Consider the following when choosing a broker to work with:

  • Their reputation as a broker or brokerage firm
  • The types of agents they look for
  • If they provide education and training for agents
  • If they provide marketing materials and potential leads
  • Which systems they use
  • The benefits they offer
  • What is their commission structure?
  • What is the growth potential?

6. Submit a Real Estate License Application

If you created an elicensing account when applying to take the California Real Estate Licensing Exam, you can use this same account to download and complete the Salesperson License Application. For more information, see this page of the California Department of Real Estate on what to do after passing your exam

You can pay the license fee of $245 online or by mail.

Once you’ve completed all of these steps successfully, you will receive your California Real Estate Agent License. At this point, you might want to consider if you’re interested in becoming a Realtor. Here is what this means:

Real Estate Agent vs Realtor: What’s the difference?

For a real estate agent to become a Realtor, they need to become a member of the National Association of Realtors®. The NAR is an organization for real estate agents and other industry professionals. Members are required to subscribe to standards and a code of ethics set by the association. Membership offers access to market data and transaction management services, and other benefits.


To become a part of this community, these are the steps you need to take:

  • Get your state real estate license
  • Join your local REALTORS® Association – find one close to you with their “find an association” tool
  • Pay the application fee – this varies by association
  • Maintain membership dues – to keep your title of REALTOR®, you need to pay an annual fee of $150

Become a top Real Estate Agent!

Now that you’re a Real Estate Agent. You’ll need a website to show off your listings, attract buyers and sellers and if your ambitious get real estate coaching or digital marketing from some of the best in the field. Reach out to us at RE Digital to learn how we can help you become a top performer.

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