Get your California real estate license

Your comprehensive guide to becoming a real estate agent in California.

For aspiring real estate agents, California offers unique opportunities for starting your career. High-value properties and a growing population of over 39 million people will give you the chance to achieve your financial goals.

Interested? We’re here to help guide you on your real estate journey and support you every step of the way. To start, we have a guide for common questions so that you can confidently begin your real estate career.

Is it worth becoming a real estate agent in California?

California has the country’s most expensive median home sale price—nearly $800K. With the average real estate agent salary being over $85,000, you can see how this market offers you a great path to financial independence.

Plus, with a population projected to continue growing, the volume of buyers and sellers gives California real estate agents increasing opportunity to earn money.

And since a California real estate license also gives you the ability to take advantage of real estate investment, property management, and home flipping, your options are wide open.

Whether you want real estate to be a full-time career, a client-facing gig, or something else, earning your California real estate license can open the door to a great career. Let’s look at what goes into that.





Steps to getting a real estate license in California

Before you can enjoy the perks of working with clients in this diverse market, you’ll have to get your license first.

The good news? Obtaining a real estate license in California can be broken down into six simple steps.


Meet the general California real estate license requirements as outlined on the California Department of Real Estate Website:

  • You must be at least 18 years old;
  • Must be honest and truthful. Conviction of a crime may result in the denial of a license. Failure to disclose any criminal violation or disciplinary action may result in the denial of a license.

If you meet these requirements, you’ll get the green light to move onto the next step in the licensing process.


Complete the approved 135 hours of pre-licensing education

In California, you can complete their pre-licensing education online or in person. 

To get a California real estate license quickly, an online format may be your best option. Allied Real Estate School has online learning packages that range from the bare minimum for self-starters, to course packages that include live Q&As and access to supplemental business and marketing courses for those who want guidance from local expert instructors.

Plus, you can swap courses as needed, get hard copy textbooks, and study with digital exam flashcards to prepare for your exam.

Another huge benefit of taking these courses online is that since many of Allied’s course packages are self-paced, you can easily complete them while maintaining a full-time job.

In-person classes are available statewide but may take a bit longer to complete and be less flexible to fit your lifestyle. For convenience, online options are always your best bet, and Allied Real Estate School offers a variety to choose from.


Apply for the Real Estate Salesperson Examination

To apply for your real estate salesperson exam in California, you’ll need to complete either a Salesperson Examination Application, or a Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application, as well as pay any associated fees.

You’ll also need to provide transcripts proving you took your required pre-licensing courses and completed all 135 hours of study.

When you’re ready to apply for your exam, head to the California Department of Real Estate’s website to get step-by-step instructions for application submission.


Submit fingerprints for a background check

Any real estate license applicant in the state of California must submit one set of fingerprints. You’ll have the option of getting your fingerprints taken either after passing your examination or after submitting your examination application.

However, fingerprint processing fees are not refunded if you fail to pass the examination.


Successfully pass the California Real Estate Licensing Exam with a score of at least 70%

In California, the real estate licensing exam includes 150 questions to answer within 3 hours and 15 minutes. Luckily for Allied Real Estate School students, we have a Pass or Don’t Pay guarantee—if you don't pass the exam, you'll get a full refund, no questions asked. 


Obtain sponsorship from a licensed California broker

In May 2020 alone, California saw over 93,000 registered brokers, which means there are plenty of brokers to choose from. Choosing the right broker is mostly a personal choice since you’ll be working closely with them.

Do you need college for real estate? (is a degree needed?)

A college degree is not a requirement to earn a real estate license in California. However, there are a few requirements to keep in mind:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must complete three college-level courses in real estate principles, practice, and an elective.
  • You must pass the state licensing exam.

Although a college degree is not a requirement, it can be helpful to have education in related fields like business, finance, or marketing.

What is the cost of getting a real estate license in California?

Yes, there are costs involved with becoming a real estate agent. The California real estate agent exam fee is $60, along with additional fees if you reschedule.

However, the greater investment is in your real estate pre-licensing education. Tuition can vary, but your total cost will likely be under $1000.

The better question to ask yourself is whether your education is worth it. Does the school have a high pass rate? Does it give you exam prep materials and support beyond the course hours? And, above all, will it help you past the real estate exam?

At Allied, we’re so proud of our curriculum and instructors that we offer a Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee. If you don’t pass the exam, you get a full refund. And when you do pass, you’ll be ready to launch your California real estate career.

See more about California real estate license fees here.

Is it hard to get a California real estate license?

The California real estate exam is one of the most difficult, with a pass rate often under 50%. But don’t worry! You can prepare yourself to pass the exam with ease.

Consisting of 150 questions that you must answer in about 3 hours, the exam covers seven sections about the material you will have studied during your real estate pre-licensing education. The most challenging area varies from person to person, but the Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures section is often described as the most difficult—and one of the most important, making up 25% of the exam.

The key to succeeding at the California real estate agent exam, then, is having preparation that equips you to master the topics and feel confident about passing the exam. With local expert instructors, flexible course options, and proprietary exam prep materials, Allied empowers you to study however works best for you so that you can go into the exam knowing that you’re ready to pass.

How long does it take to get a real estate license?

California requires students to spend at least 54 days in an accredited real estate program. So, it will take you at least almost 2 months. However, just how long this education takes is up to you. Some are faster than others, so you can pick the approach that best suits your lifestyle.

Regardless of your learning modality, your schedule will spend 18 days on three different required courses:

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Real Estate Principles
  • Elective Course

If you prefer a self-paced approach, you can look into online courses that let you go as fast or as slow as you’d like. But you’ll still have to fulfill the 54-day requirement.

Getting to take the actual exam can take some time, too. After you apply, you may wait up to 3 months. So, when you plan your timeline for getting your California real estate license, it will likely take 5 months or longer.

If you want to earn your license as fast as possible, here are some tips:

  • Choose an online course, like Allied can offer, so that you can study on your own schedule.
  • Apply for the real estate exam as soon as you finish your education. Applying online is often the fastest route, but it still may take 3 to 6 months to receive approval.

But don’t forget: the most important part of earning your California real estate license is passing the exam! So, first and foremost, pick the education that fits you best.

What jobs can you get with a real estate license?

Sales Agent

You know this one. Not only do you have the chance to earn the income you want, but you also get to help people find the home that they’ll love.

Real Estate Broker

After working as a California sales agent for two years, you can become a broker. For some people, this is a great opportunity to level up your real estate career.

Beyond these common real estate careers, there are also roles that you could pursue with your California real estate license.

Property Manager

If you’re not as interested in the client-facing side of real estate, this option could be appealing if you’re interested in maintaining or improving properties.

Office Manager

Many brokerages want a licensed professional to help out with their office. If you have a license, you’ll be able to handle activities that require licensure.

Broker Price Opinions

If you enjoy the financial side of real estate, you can offer broker price opinions to banks and lenders who want to get a home valuation without going through the formal appraisal process.

Leasing Agent

With California’s growing population, many people are interested in renting rather than buying. California requires agents to have a license in order to list, show, and help renters lease.

Real Estate Instructor

To help other aspiring agents learn the craft of real estate, you can teach courses. Often, this can be a great secondary income avenue beyond other real estate careers.

There are many other potential career paths, too, including foreclosure bidder, consultant, showing agent, transaction coordinator, and more.

Does California offer real estate license reciprocity?

In short, no. With California’s real estate exam being one of the most difficult in the country, the state wants to make sure all practicing agents meet its standards. However, this doesn’t mean there are no options to help you earn your California real estate license if you’re already licensed in another state.

First, your existing real estate education can qualify. If you’ve taken courses at an out-of-state institution, these may meet California’s requirements.

Second, even if not, you can take courses remotely if you’re not a California resident.

Third, for aspiring brokers, existing real estate work may count toward the experience that’s required for earning a California broker’s license. However, before you can do so, you will need to be an established business in California.

So while there’s no reciprocity, there are still ways that earning a California real estate license can be a bit easier if you’re not already in the Golden State.

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