How To Get A Real Estate License in California

By Ciprian Morariu Published: November 16, 2023

California real estate is known as one of the most dynamic and diverse real estate regions of the country. It forms a major part of the state’s economic demography. Real estate itself encompasses the physical land, fixed, immovable assets, and buildings with some legal rights attached to them. It refers to a broad range of properties that play an essential role in defining the economy and housing market of the region. 

To get a real estate license here, you must meet some basic prerequisites and fulfill the eligibility criteria stipulated. This whole process is controlled and regulated by the California Department of Real Estate. 

Meeting the basic eligibility requirements is the starting point for getting a real estate license in California. To get your real estate license, you must fulfill certain eligibility requirements such as being of a certain age, having educational qualifications, clearing the real estate exam, and submitting a license application. Furthermore, you are required to go through a thorough background check, fingerprint authorization process, and get affiliated with a licensed broker.

California how to Get a Real Estate License

These points should explain to you how to get my real estate license in California.  

How to prepare for and pass the real estate exam:

The first step to getting a California real estate license is to take and pass the license exam of the state. Let us learn a few steps and tips to ace the examination:

  1. Every state has a different eligibility criterion in place and in California, it is mandatory to go through the three college-level real estate courses. It is a mandatory prerequisite and cannot be bypassed. These three courses are namely Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and one Elective Course. Only after completion of these courses can you move on to the next steps in the license-securing process.
  2. You must invest time in familiarizing yourself with the exam format as it is different for every state exam. The exam consists of two sections namely, the national section and the state section. 
  3. You must procure the study material well in time from your course providers. After getting the study resources, study each topic at length.
  4. Make a timetable and a study plan according to your daily schedule. It helps save a lot of time and energy as everything is well planned.  
  5. It is wise to give practice tests in advance and do it many times. This helps you to identify your strong and weak areas. Knowing your weaknesses well before the exam day is an advantage as you can work on them and turn them into your strength. 
  6. You must create an exam simulation environment and try to attempt the exam just like you would on the actual day. Set timers and work hard to finish the exam on time. This will help you increase the speed and accuracy of marking the right answers.  
  7. You can also use some memorization techniques for better and faster understanding. This can include using flashcards, memory cards, pop quizzes, and mnemonic devices. This is called working smart.
  8. The most productive step that you can take is to score your result. This gives you the real picture of your preparation and whether you’re ready or not. You must take it seriously as it will be useful in guiding your preparation.  

How long to get a license after passing the real estate exam? 

Obtaining your real estate license as soon as possible is a wish every one of you makes. The factors that decide how soon you can get your license vary in many different aspects. Which state you are applying for a license in also plays a major role. To answer the question of ‘how long to get a real estate license in California’, you must go through the following overview.

  1. Usually, this factor depends on you as an aspirant. The time that you will take to complete the 3-level college real estate courses will be a major factor. This is because every one of you has a different schedule and speed of learning. Some may finish it sooner than others and vice versa.
  2. Once you submit your application to take the California real estate exam, it takes some time to get approval from the regulatory authority. The time taken by this body depends upon the volume of applications submitted in that season. This can vary from time to time. 
  3. The net factor is the time taken by you to prepare yourself for the exam. This time frame may vary for each of you as everyone has different preparation strategies and speed. This depends on your prior knowledge of topics, study habits, discipline, time management, and a focused approach toward the exam.
  4. The next crucial factor is the time taken to find a suitable broker who would be willing to sponsor you. This may or may not take time depending upon your networking skills and sources. This step will come after you pass the real estate exam. 
  5. When you get to the background check and fingerprinting process, it will again add to the time taken to receive your license. This process is thorough and done seriously.
  6. Furthermore, the next factor is the time taken by the California Real Estate Department to approve and release your license after thorough scrutiny of your application. It can take from a few weeks to months to get the final approval. You will receive your official real estate license in California after the formal approval is granted by the regulatory body.
how to Get a Real Estate License in California

What is the best way to get a California real estate license:

The best way is the only way you can get your real estate license in California. Let us learn how:

           Eligibility requirements

  • You must be 18 years old or above
  • You must complete your high school diploma or equivalent course.

           Educational requirements

  • You must complete a 3-level college real estate course which includes- Real estate principles, practice, and one elective course (Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Economics, Property Management, etc.).

           Exam Application

  • You must apply well in time within the due date schedule to take the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam.
  • You must submit the required exam fee and application to the Department of Real Estate.

           Take Exam

  • You must pass both the National and State sections of the exam to successfully clear it.

           Find Broker 

  • After you pass the exam, you must find a licensed broker in California who will sponsor you. You must work under him for a while before you can apply to get your license. This will depend on your networking skills in the industry as finding a suitable broker takes time.

           Background check and Fingerprinting

  • The next step you must take is getting a thorough background check done. This is important to know if you have a criminal record to your name or anything suspicious that may raise eyebrows in your career as a real estate agent in the future. 

           Apply for License

  • The next step is to finally apply and submit your documents for your license with the California Department of Real Estate.
  • You must finish the application by submitting the required fee. 


  • This step is the final one. You must wait for your application to get approved and your official license to be released. 
  • Once you get your official license, you can now practice the profession with a practicing broker of the industry.

How long will it take to get my Real Estate License in California?

There are numerous factors affecting the amount of time the whole licensing process takes. Right from applying for a pre-licensing course to getting your official real license approved, several factors are involved.

Read more to learn about these factors which decide the timeframe one must expect to get their real estate license in the state of California.

Factors such as 

  1. Educational pace
  2. Exam preparation
  3. Knowledge grasping ability   
  4. Timely scheduling of exam
  5. Time taken in the application process of examination
  6. Background checking process
  7. Time taken to find a sponsoring broker
  8. License application process
  9. Current market conditions – during high demand in the market for licensees, it may not take much time to get your official license. But, in times of unfavorable market conditions, it may take more time than usual. 
  10. Individual circumstances – it is possible that sometimes you may find difficulty in attending and completing classes on time. You may lag in completing the courses due to personal issues. This may affect the time taken.  
  11. Regulatory changes – The regulatory body may make some changes in the licensing requirements and procedures. These changes may impact the overall time.  
  12. Completion of required hours – refers to the time taken to complete the pre-licensing education hours. It can influence the entire process. 

Understanding the typical timeframe

How long does it take from scratch to get a California real estate license? The typical time frame that aspiring agents can look forward to is seven months to a year. Most of it depends on your ability to promptly act on each step that is required from you. This will help you cut down on time drastically if you do your part proactively. At least, what factors you can control must be done as soon as possible from your end.

Bird’s eye view of best practices to follow as an aspiring licensee:

There is always a way to do and prepare for things. Some do hard work, and some do smart work. Which one would you like to choose? 

After much deliberation and interviewing practicing licensees and industry experts, you must know that following certain smart practices will increase your chances of success at getting a real estate license in hand. These are by far the best practices and if you streamline them, they will give you an extra edge over other competitors. 

  1. Understand basic requirements mandated by the Real estate authority. This includes age, educational background, and personal background checks. 
  2. You must choose a good education provider who is reputable and has a great track record. 
  3. You must set a realistic study schedule and goal that is attainable.
  4. You must practice as much as you can through practice tests.
  5. You must keep yourself updated with course content and curriculum. You must not forget to submit a complete and accurate licensing application. Do due diligence before submitting it to avoid rejection.
  6. You must be aware of the status of your application. Keep track of it from the beginning.
  7. You must invest time in networking with industry professionals. Start soon as building networks takes time but prove to be a boon later.
  8. Stay organized and be patient throughout the process.

This is an overall view of all that you need about a California real estate license.