How To Become a California Real Estate Agent In 7 Easy Steps

How To Become A Realtor In California In 2023 (7 Easy Steps)

The California real estate market has long been a hotbed of activity, with its diverse cities, thriving economy, and picturesque landscapes. As an aspiring real estate professional, you may be eager to take advantage of the opportunities presented by this thriving market. However, navigating the complex licensing process and understanding the requirements to become a successful Realtor in California can be daunting and confusing.

You may be overwhelmed by the myriad of courses, exams, and paperwork. Additionally, with the constantly evolving real estate landscape, staying updated on the latest industry trends and regulations is crucial, making it even more challenging to kickstart your career.

In this blog post, we will break down the process of becoming a Realtor in California in 2023 into seven easy-to-follow steps. Our comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to confidently embark on your journey towards a successful real estate career in the Golden State.

Basic Requirements

Age Requirement: Must Be at Least 18 Years Old

To become a real estate agent in California, one of the primary requirements is to be at least 18 years old. This age requirement ensures that you have met basic maturity and educational standards necessary to handle the responsibilities of a realtor.

Residency: Legal US Resident

As an aspiring real estate agent in California, you need to be a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien. While some locations in California may require you to be a resident of the state, there are unique procedures available for out-of-state applicants.

Background: No Disqualifying Criminal History

California requires real estate agents to maintain high integrity and honesty. Consequently, a criminal record may affect your eligibility for a real estate license. The California Department of Real Estate (CalDRE) will carefully review each applicant’s background, including any criminal convictions or evidence of disqualifying moral character.

To summarize:

  • Age: Must be 18 years old or older
  • Residency: Legal US resident or lawfully admitted alien
  • Background: No disqualifying criminal history

Once you meet these basic requirements, complete the necessary pre-licensing courses, submit the required documentation, and pass the California real estate exam. As you embark on your journey toward becoming a realtor in California, always remember to stay diligent, informed, and committed to your success.

California written in the sand on a beach

Step 1: Complete Pre-License Education

California Real Estate Pre-License Courses Overview

Before becoming a real estate agent in California, you need to complete 135 hours of pre-license education. This includes three essential courses:

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

These courses are designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the real estate market.

Choosing an Approved Education Provider

Selecting a California Department of Real Estate (DRE) approved education provider for your pre-license courses is important. Approved providers include:

For a list of approved providers or more information, visit the California DRE website.

An aerial shot of a neighborhood

Online vs. In-Person Courses: Pros and Cons

When considering education providers, you must choose between online and in-person courses. Each option has its pros and cons.

Online courses:


  • Flexibility to learn at your own pace
  • Study from home or any other location


  • Limited interaction with instructors and peers
  • Must have a reliable internet connection

In-person courses:


  • Face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers
  • Structured learning environment


  • Must attend classes at set times and locations
  • Commute time and transportation costs

It’s important to consider your learning style and schedule when deciding on online versus in-person courses.

When selecting a pre-license education provider, ensure they are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or another recognized body. Suppose you have completed college-level courses related to real estate. In that case, you should provide your transcripts to the California Department of Real Estate to see if they can be applied to your education requirements.

Once you have completed your required pre-license education, you will be well on your way to becoming a real estate agent in California.

Step 2: Apply for the Salesperson License Exam

Application Process Overview

To become a Realtor in California, you must apply for and pass the Salesperson License Exam. Start by taking the required pre-licensing courses. After completing these courses, apply for the exam through the California Department of Real Estate’s (DRE) eLicensing portal.

Documents and Fees Required

To apply for the California real estate exam, gather the following materials:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Completed Live Scan form
  • Three licensing course certificates
  • Completed DRE Forms
  • State exam fees
A road sign that says California

The Live Scan form is needed for a background check to confirm your records are accurate. You can obtain this form from the DRE’s official website.

Scheduling the Exam Date

Once you submit your application, the DRE will review it along with the required documents and fees. If approved, schedule your exam date through the eLicensing portal. Be prepared, as the Salesperson License Exam will test your knowledge on real estate principles and practices specific to California. Good luck on your journey to become a Realtor in the state!

Step 3: Prepare for the Salesperson License Exam

Overview of Exam Content

The California Salesperson License Exam is a multiple-choice exam with about 150 questions you must complete in 3 hours and 15 minutes. The questions will cover topics such as the English language, basic math skills, and subjects directly related to becoming a real estate agent. You will need to score 70% or higher to pass the exam.

Study Materials and Resources

To prepare for the exam effectively, consider the following study materials and resources:

  • The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) provides exam content outlines and candidate handbooks that outline the specific topics covered on the exam.
  • Enroll in real estate pre-licensing courses that provide comprehensive instruction on various real estate concepts and laws applicable in California. These courses will often have study materials tailored for the state exam.
  • Use textbooks covering California real estate laws, regulations, and best practices. These books will help reinforce your understanding of the concepts and provide more in-depth knowledge for the exam.

Tips for Effective Exam Preparation

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for the exam:

  1. Develop a study schedule with dedicated daily hours to review the materials and practice questions.
  2. Focus on your weak areas and spend more time learning and mastering those topics.
  3. Use flashcards to memorize essential terms, definitions, and concepts in real estate.
  4. Engage in group study sessions or discussions with other aspiring real estate agents taking the same exam for better understanding and knowledge sharing.
  5. Revise and review previous lessons regularly to keep the information fresh in your mind.

Taking Practice Exams

Taking practice exams is a critical component of your exam preparation. Here’s how practice exams can help:

  • Familiarize yourself with the exam format and the types of questions you can expect.
  • Test your knowledge and identify any gaps in your understanding.
  • Assess your time management skills and improve on them, as you will have a limited time to complete the actual exam.
  • Review your mistakes from each practice exam and learn from them.

Regularly take practice exams until you consistently score above the passing rate of 70% to boost your confidence and increase your chances of passing the California Salesperson License Exam.

Step 4: Pass the Salesperson License Exam

Exam Day: What to Expect

On the day of your California real estate salesperson license exam, arrive at the test center early and bring the required identification. You must have your address, Social Security number (or ITIN), and driver’s license number. Be prepared to pay a $60 test application fee.

Exam Format and Duration

The California salesperson licensing exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. You will be given a time limit of 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. The questions will cover various topics related to real estate, including:

  • Property ownership
  • Land use controls and regulations
  • Valuation and market analysis
  • Financing
  • Transfer of property
  • Practice of real estate

Passing Score and Receiving Results

To pass the California real estate salesperson license exam, you must correctly answer at least 70% of the questions, equating to 105 correct answers. After you complete the exam, you will receive your test results. If you pass the exam, you will not be informed of your final score, as the process is qualifying.

Once you have successfully passed the exam, you can apply for your salesperson license. Log onto your eLicensing account, download and complete the Salesperson License Application (RE 202), and submit it along with a completed Live Scan Service Request (RE 237) for fingerprinting.

Step 5: Obtain Your Salesperson License

In California, obtaining your Real Estate Salesperson License is the first and most important step in launching your career in real estate. This section will guide you through the process, including applying for the license after passing the exam, the required documents and fees, and joining a local real estate board.

Applying for the License After Passing the Exam

After successfully passing the California real estate exam, visit the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) website to complete your license application. To make the process easier, follow these steps:

  1. Create an account on the DRE website or log in with your existing account.
  2. Complete the application by providing the necessary personal and professional information.
  3. Upload required documents, such as proof of course completion, exam scores, and background information.

Required Documents and Fees

While submitting your application, ensure you have the following essential documents:

  • Proof of a high school diploma or GED
  • Proof of age (you must be at least 18 years old)
  • Evidence of pre-license education course completion

Apart from the required documents, you will also need to pay the necessary fees:

  • Exam fees: $60 for the salesperson exam
  • License fees: $245 for a salesperson license
License TypeExam FeeLicense Fee
Broker (if applicable)$95$300 (Broker license fee)

To avoid delays or complications, keep track of these fees during your application process.

Joining a Local Real Estate Association/Board

Once you receive your real estate salesperson license, joining a local real estate association or board is essential. By becoming a member, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other professionals, attend educational events, and access valuable resources for your career growth. You must also sign with a licensed broker to oversee your transactions and provide guidance as you begin your journey in the real estate industry.

Remember that each local board may have its requirements, fees, and membership application. Consider researching and comparing different boards in your area to find the one best suited to your needs and career goals.

Following these steps, you’ll build a solid foundation for a successful career as a real estate salesperson in California.

Step 6: Becoming a Realtor®

The Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor®

Real estate agents and Realtors® both work in the real estate industry; however, they have differences. A real estate agent is a professional who has completed the requirements and licensing to help clients buy, sell, lease, or rent properties. A Realtor®, on the other hand, is a real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), adhering to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics.

Joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and California Association of Realtors (CAR)

To become a Realtor®, you must be a licensed real estate agent in California. This involves meeting the minimum qualifications, completing 135 hours of real estate education, passing the license exam, and finding a broker sponsor.

Once you are a licensed real estate agent, you can join the NAR and the California Association of Realtors (CAR) by following these steps:

  1. Locate a local real estate board or association affiliated with NAR and CAR.
  2. Complete a membership application, providing your real estate license number and broker affiliation.
  3. Pay membership dues for both NAR and CAR and your local association.
  4. Attend a mandatory orientation session to learn about the ethical standards you must adhere to as a member.

Benefits of Becoming a Realtor®

Becoming a Realtor® has several advantages, including access to resources and networking opportunities. Some benefits include:

  • A higher level of trust and credibility is due to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which signifies your dedication to ethical business practices.
  • Access exclusive tools, resources, and marketing materials, such as the Realtor® logo, for promoting your business.
  • Networking and educational opportunities at local, state, and national events allow you to build connections and stay informed about industry trends.
  • Access to services like legal support, mediation, and arbitration to help resolve disputes, should they arise.
  • Participation in the NAR’s advocacy efforts and lobbying activities to protect property rights and advance the interests of the real estate profession.

By becoming a Realtor®, you enhance your reputation and open doors to new opportunities within the real estate industry. Your commitment to professionalism, ethical conduct, and adherence to NAR’s Code of Ethics sets you apart from other real estate agents, demonstrating your dedication to excellence.

Step 7: Building Your Real Estate Career in California

Finding a Brokerage to Work With

Your first step in building a successful career in California real estate is finding the right brokerage. Research and interview various brokerages in your target area, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, and Oakland. Consider their reputation, values, training opportunities, and commission structure. A strong brokerage can provide valuable resources and a support system to help you succeed.

Networking and Building a Client Base

Creating a solid network is crucial for your career growth. Attend local networking events and connect with other real estate professionals. Join industry groups and associations to expand your network further. As you build relationships, you’ll grow your client base through referrals and repeat business. Remember, clients are often drawn to real estate agents who are confident, knowledgeable, and fit for their needs.

  • Reach out to your contacts and let them know you’re in the real estate business
  • Attend open houses to network with fellow agents and potential clients
  • Participate in local community events and organizations to build your visibility

Staying Up-To-Date with Market Trends

Market trends can impact property values and influence your clients’ decisions. Regularly research and analyze market trends in your target areas, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, and Oakland. Subscribe to real estate newsletters and follow industry influencers online to enhance your market understanding. Staying up-to-date with market trends will allow you to serve your clients better and establish credibility.

Continuing Education

In California, real estate agents must complete 45 hours of continuing education every four years to maintain their licenses. However, investing in ongoing education is more than just a requirement – it’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge and grow your business. Seek courses and workshops that align with your professional goals, whether developing marketing skills or niche expertise. A mentor can also provide guidance and valuable insights to help you navigate your career’s trajectory.

As your real estate career progresses, remember to prioritize networking, stay up-to-date with market trends, and invest in continuing education. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to success in the California real estate market.


To quickly recap the steps you need to take to become a real estate agent in California, follow this outline:

  1. Meet the minimum qualifications (age, clear criminal record, etc.).
  2. Complete 135 hours of state-approved real estate courses covering topics like Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and an approved elective.
  3. Pass the real estate school pre-licensing course exam.
  4. Pass the California real estate exam.
  5. Find a broker to sponsor you.
  6. Complete your licensing application.

As you embark on your journey to become a realtor in California, remember that determination and hard work can lead to a rewarding and successful career. Embrace the challenges and learning experiences along the way, and stay focused on your goals. With perseverance, you’ll be able to confidently navigate the real estate market and help your clients find their dream homes or make sound investments in the Golden State.

Through the licensing process, you will acquire the knowledge and skills to understand and navigate California’s diverse real estate market confidently. Keep up-to-date with trends, regulations, and changes within the industry, and value ongoing education and networking with other professionals. Soon, you will be a California real estate expert, guiding clients through their buying, selling, and investment needs. Best of luck in your new career!

Kyle Handy

Would You Like To Partner With Me?

I’ve helped hundreds of real estate agents, team leaders, & brokers all over the country increase their sales, online presence, and create scalable systems. I would love the opportunity to work with you. Together, we can make this year your best yet!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *