Become a Real Estate Agent in California

By Ciprian Morariu Published: November 4, 2018

Have you been thinking about a career change? A career change can take a lot of time and money to get the proper retraining and qualifications, but not every path has to take four years and tens of thousands of dollars. Getting your California real estate license is easier and more affordable than getting a college degree, and it opens the door to new opportunities, a higher income, and independence in your work life.

Why Become a California Real Estate Agent?

With a California real estate license, there are several career paths you can take. The most common is becoming a California real estate agent. Before you start down the path of becoming a real estate agent, you should know some of the risks and perks of doing so:

Becoming a Real Estate Agent: The Hard Stuff

Don’t believe anyone who tells you real estate agents can earn tons of money for doing nothing. You can earn a lot of money, but there’s work to do.

Real estate agents work on a commission, which means you’ll be trading in a steady paycheque for large sums of money coming in as you close deals. Many real estate agents begin their careers part-time, either while they work another job or start working again once their children reach school age. Starting part-time gives you time to develop marketing material, meet clients, and get your business off the ground before you rely on it completely for your income.

California properties.

The low cost of entry means that some people even get their California real estate license just to save money when they buy their own properties or work for a family member from time to time.

You will have to advertise, network, and build your clientele. Word-of-mouth is one of your most powerful assets early on. Doing a great job for one client will lead to others down the road. But you should also invest in business cards, a decent website, sales signs and open house signs, and other advertising expenses.

The Rewards of Real Estate

Becoming a real estate agent lets you fit your job around your life. If you only want to work part-time, working as a real estate agent is an effective way to supplement your income. You can also enjoy a potentially limitless income, based only on how many homes you can sell and how much they’re worth. Working with higher-end homes can be remunerative or you can sell homes in greater volumes. That’s why it’s so important to put time and money into generating a clientele, following up on leads, and advertising.

You also gain independence as a real estate agent. You will be working through a broker, but essentially you are an independent contractor. You can set your own hours – to an extent. In many ways, your clients will determine what hours you wind up working, as they will expect you to be available. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide your terms and availability.

Becoming a real estate agent gives you higher pay opportunities and more freedom to define your own work-life balance.

More Opportunities with a Real Estate License

Becoming a real estate agent is not your only option once you earn your California real estate license. There are several career paths you can choose in addition to becoming a real estate agent. Some of the most popular careers pursued by RealEstateU students after they earn their license include:

Real Estate Investors – If you have the start-up capital or the equity yourself, you can become a real estate investor and really make real estate work for you. From income properties to speculative investments, real estate investors can make a lot of money, or simply use real estate to save for their retirements. Acting as your own real estate agent helps you cut down on fees and improve your ROI – plus a California based real estate license school can teach you many of the fundamentals of real estate.

Real Estate Appraisal – Before a bank will approve a mortgage to a buyer, they usually want a house to be appraised. Working as a real estate appraiser is a great way to earn a steady income with your real estate license.

Real Estate Analyst – A real estate license could also help you work as a real estate analyst, someone who analyzes the real estate market, land use planning, and development opportunities. The average salary for a real estate analyst in the U.S. is $62,000 a year.

California homes.

How Can You Earn Your California Real Estate License?

There are 4 steps to earning your California real estate license. If you’re looking for a career change, online real estate classes in California are easier and more affordable than you might expect.

Step #1

Complete the 3 real estate courses required by California. Each one takes 45 hours and will overview different aspects of the real estate industry, from contracts to financing to legal requirements.

You can take these classes online with RealEstateU for only $99, making our courses some of the most affordable available. Our courses are all made by our real estate instructors – professionals who are active in the industry. Our online real estate classes for California are available as audio courses with supporting material, including a downloadable PDF of all the documents and forms discussed. You don’t have to log in to read over the documents. You also get access to easily digestible infographics that concisely cover the core concepts in each course and a course workbook.

Your online courses conclude with writing a final exam. Successfully passing the exam will allow you to take the next step.

Step #2

File your Salesperson Application with the state of California. You may file either:

  • A Salesperson Application Examination
  • A Salesperson Exam/License Application (recommended)

The California Bureau of Real Estate will send you an examination schedule notice once they receive your application. This will include the time, date, and location of your state exam.

Step 3

Taking the California real estate exam is the next step. Your online courses and final exam are great California real estate exam prep help – be sure to study your supporting documents. Everything you need to know is there.

The California real estate exam includes 150 multiple choice questions. The passing grade is 70 percent. You may attempt the exam more than once, though there is a fee every time you take the exam.

Step 4

The final step is getting fingerprinted and submitting your Salesperson License Application, if you didn’t in Step 2. The California Department of Real Estate will then mail your license to your sponsoring broker, or, if you don’t have a broker, directly to you with non-working status.

The 3 Real Estate Courses in California

The 3 California real estate courses will give you a well-rounded understanding of the real estate industry, including your responsibilities and legal obligations as a real estate agent. As a California real estate license school, we can help you prepare to become a successful practicing real estate agent. Each of these courses is 45 hours long. 

Real Estate Principles – This course will give you an in-depth understanding of real estate fundamentals, including your relationship with an agency and the procedures you must go through to close a sale. The course will also cover how to apply for, maintain, and renew your California real estate license. You will learn:

  • Factors that make the California housing market unique (including factors like climate, economy, demographics, and the market)
  • Land use planning principles in California
  • The rights and types of property
  • The characteristics of real estate contracts
  • The process of appraisals and valuation
  • The escrow and closing procedures
  • Aspects of real estate finance, including loans

Real Estate Practice – The “Real Estate Practice” course covers the role of the real estate agent as well as how the real estate business operates. This course teaches you how to be a successful real estate agent, including how to list properties, sales techniques, prospecting leads, and how to use real estate forms such as financing, property tax, escrow, and insurance.

Legal Aspects – This course covers California real estate law, including subjects such as ownership, estates, contracts, liens, trust deeds, and landlord-tenant rules. The course also covers land use rules and the use of security devices.

These three courses are offered as online audio courses when you sign up with RealEstateU, meaning you can listen to them on-the-go, 24/7, at your convenience. Take the course with you wherever you have a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Audio courses help you get your real estate license on your terms, at your own pace.

New house.


How To Get a Real Estate License in California: FAQ

What is a real estate broker?

You may have noticed that Step 4 in getting your California real estate license involves having your license mailed to your sponsoring broker. What is your sponsoring broker and how do you find one? In common usage, the terms “real estate agent” and “real estate broker” often get used interchangeably, but a broker is a step above an agent. To become an agent, you need a sponsoring broker.

You will split your commissions with your broker, so brokers are usually keen to bring on new prospective agents. You should look up brokers in your area and get in touch with them. Don’t be afraid to ask to interview them; when you start selling houses, they’ll see returns.

Many agents are surprised by the commission split or desk fees they have to share with a broker. Don’t just think about how much you give them; consider what they give you. A good broker will provide you with training and mentorship that will help you build your clientele and become a better salesperson. You may have to give up a higher share of your commission at first, but it should be an investment in your skills and your career.

How Much Does the Process Cost?

Getting your California real estate license is an affordable path to a career change. Our online California real estate courses are only $99. That includes all 3 of the 45-hour courses required by the state.

You should also be aware of other fees you will encounter through the application and state exam process. The cost to write the California real estate exam is $60. The fee to get your license is $245, and the fingerprint fee is $49. Altogether, getting your real estate license in California will cost you $453.

Compared to a college degree and decades of student loan payments, becoming a real estate agent has a much better return on investment.

If you’re ready to get your California real estate license, get more information from us and sign up today.

Get Ready for an Important Career as a Real Estate Agent

When you become a real estate agent in California, people will look to you as an expert. Your skills and knowledge about residential and commercial property will give you a chance to shine, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. They will turn to you when they want to know what schools are nearby, what the risks are of the property (like flooding), and whether it’s a good purchase. People will place their lives and finances in your hands. When you make your clients happy, they’ll spread the word to their friends and you can start to build a clientele.

The first step toward taking that next step in your life and career is signing up with a real estate school in California. Take the 45-hour courses and prepare for your California real estate exam with the resources you need, in the time you need to get it right. Learn at your own pace while you work or raise a family and start working as a real estate agent.