Ready to jump-start a new career and wondering how to become a real estate agent in California? The process of getting a California real estate license is more straightforward than you might think, which means you’re only a few months away from a flexible career with excellent income potential. Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll be launching your California real estate career in no time.

Infographic: How to become a real estate agent in California

How much does it cost to get a real estate license in California?

It costs approximately $900 to $1,300 to get your real estate license in California, including your prelicensing education. Some of the costs are fixed, such as the state’s licensing and exam fees, while others vary.

While you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate agent in California, you must complete a state-specific licensing process. The price of the required 135-hour prelicensing courses (and optional exam prep materials) will vary depending upon the provider you choose.

California Real Estate License Costs

Prelicensing Classes (135 hours)$129 to $449 (through Real Estate Express)
California Real Estate License Exam Fee$60
License Fee$245
Fingerprinting Fee$45
NAR Membership$150
MLS Membership$144.50 - $542 (CRMLS)
Total Costs$774 - $1,200

(California real estate license costs as of July 2021)

Save 25% off the cost of your prelicensing education through Real Estate Express when you use the coupon code TheClose25.

How to Get a California Real Estate Agent License in 5 Easy Steps

There are five steps in the process to become a real estate agent in California, and you must meet the following requirements set forth by the state: you must be at least 18 years and you must have a Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

Let’s explore the five easy steps and then we’ll answer frequently asked questions like “How long does it take to become a real estate agent in California?”

1. Complete a 135-Hour Prelicensing Course

Cost: As low as $119 with Real Estate Express
Time commitment: One month if taking a self-paced course; two to three months if taking in-person classes

To become a real estate agent in California, you need to complete 135 course hours through a state-approved real estate school like Real Estate Express. Your classes will cover topics like property management, real estate finance, and mortgage loan brokering and lending.

You’ll need the help of a highly rated California real estate school to get through this weighty material. Most people choose a real estate school based on the cost and the educational format of the course. Here are the most popular options.

In-person Classes

Wherever you live in California, you should be able to find a real estate school that meets in person during regularly scheduled sessions.

  • Traditional classroom setting
  • More expensive than online classes
  • Interactive and you can easily ask questions
  • Headaches of commuting
  • Meet other students & share the experience
  • Finding courses that fit your schedule
  • Easy access to the instructor

Livestream Classes

Livestream classes are at scheduled times and are broadcast over Zoom (or another video conferencing tool). If you prefer to access your pre-license classes online, but you enjoy a live class that takes place in real-time, we recommend  Allied Real Estate Schools. You can learn from the comfort and safety of your home. Use promo code AlliedtheClose30 to save 30% at Allied Real Estate School

  • Best for those needing an “in-person” instructor
  • Finding classes that fit your schedule
  • No commute
  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should
  • Great for people who live far away from in-person schools
  • No interaction with other students
  • Ability to ask questions in real time

At-Your-Own-Pace Online Classes

Online real estate classes are extremely popular for those wanting to become real estate agents in California. The course material may be presented in a series of slides, videos, and interactive content.

  • Classes can be taken when convenient for you
  • Instructors can only be accessed via email or phone
  • Can complete the courses at your own pace
  • No interaction with people in the profession
  • No commute
  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should
  • Available anywhere with internet connection
  • Least expensive option

If completing online classes appeals to you, we recommend Real Estate Express. Real Estate Express is a powerhouse in the online real estate education space, offering prelicensing courses in all 39 states, plus Washington, D.C.

Their courses are affordable and expertly designed, presenting complicated material clearly and concisely.

You can save 25% on your California real estate prelicensing courses with Real Estate Express when you use the promo code TheClose25 at checkout.

Related Article
6 Best Real Estate Schools in California for 2022

2. Complete the California Exam Application

Cost: $60 for the exam fee
Time commitment: 1 hour

The next step to becoming a real estate agent in California is to complete the California Department of Real Estate’s Salesperson Examination Application. The form asks for your address, Social Security number (or ITIN), and driver’s license number, so make sure you have those handy.

There’s a $60 fee for your exam application. You’ll need to wait for your application to be processed to receive the date, time, and location of your exam (or you can check the box asking to schedule the test on your own).

3. Pass the California Real Estate Exam

Infographic - California Real Estate Salesperson Exam

The California real estate exam testing sites are located in the following cities:

  • Los Angeles
  • Fresno
  • Oakland
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego

You should arrive 30 minutes early at the testing site. Visit the State of California’s Department of Real Estate page to review the types of government-issued identification they will accept, and their lengthy list of items you’re prohibited from bringing to the exam room (including common items like calculators, pens, and cell phones).

After completing the multiple-choice exam, you’ll learn whether you passed or failed upon completion. If you don’t pass, you’ll be given a detailed score report that will help you prepare for the retake. You can retake the exam as many times as you’d like within two years following the date you sent in your original exam application.

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4. Join a California Real Estate Brokerage

Cost: Free
Time commitment: 2 weeks

The State of California requires that you work under a broker after passing the real estate salesperson exam. A broker has received additional training, has worked successfully in the industry for a minimum period of time, and has passed the broker’s license exam. Finding a broker to work under will feel like applying for a job.

Once you’ve landed some broker interviews, you’ll want to ask each broker about the split (or how you and the brokerage will divide the commissions). You’ll find that some brokerages will ask for a 50/50 split on commissions. Usually, brokerages that offer an even split will not charge monthly desk fees.

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As a commissioned salesperson, your income entirely depends on your abilities and effort. Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions, which may rise to 100% after you’ve met a specific sales goal (or a cap) for the year. It takes time to launch your new business, so some new agents choose to start part-time so they can still bring in additional revenue as they’re learning the ropes.

Related Article
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5. Complete the Licensing Process

Total cost: $290
Time commitment: One hour to complete application
Processing time: Visit the state’s website
Helpful resource: California Dept. of Real Estate License Application

Youll need to complete the California License Application Form to get licensed as a real estate agent in California. The form asks for additional background information and requires a $245 fee. You’ll also need to locate and visit a live scan fingerprint service provider as a part of your background check. There’s a $45 fee for this service.

Then, you wait for your license application to be processed. The State of California publishes the current wait times on their website. While you’re waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn, you can set up your social media accounts to promote your new business and research how other agents have succeeded in this exciting industry.

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California: FAQs

Still have questions? Get answers to common questions about how to become a real estate agent in California below.

More Career Resources From The Close

​​Now that you’ve learned how to become a real estate agent in California, you’re likely to have more questions. Luckily, The Close is here to answer them for you.

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