Is A College Degree Necessary to Be A Real Estate Agent

By Ciprian Morariu Published: December 13, 2023

The answer is simple – to be a real estate agent in California, a college degree is not required. This requirement is not stated as a basic and mandatory one. However, to become a sales agent with a license in California, you better fulfill its other prerequisites. 

real estate agent in California

Is real estate a good and lucrative career choice for you

The real estate industry is a fluidic, dynamic, and generously rewarding one. For an overview, it is a career path that generally involves buying, selling, and renting properties for a commission. It offers you an unconventional blend of flexibility, entrepreneurship, and financial stability all together. 

If you choose this career path, you will be moving toward a lucrative and high-income paying industry. But, as rainbows and sunshine may seem, it is not. It comes with its challenges and hardships, but you must possess a zeal for hard dedication enough to navigate through it all to make yourself a successful business.

Do you have to get formally educated to enter the real estate industry?

The importance and value of education can never take a back seat in the real estate industry or any career field for that matter.

You require a thorough understanding of the market, laws, and regulations, as well as marketing and sales techniques which will only come with a proper education. If you invest in your education, you will be better prepared for the complexities and challenges you might face when you enter this industry. Education will help you maintain your license and certifications for a long time so that you can build a successful career and advance in it in the future.

California real estate license requirements: What are they?

Do you need college to be a real estate agent? Not! 

However, an aspiring real estate agent in California must meet several other requirements.  

These are the California real estate license requirements that you need to fulfill:

  1. You must be 18 years old.
  2. You must have possession of legal documents that prove your presence in the United States as its designated resident. 
  3. You must complete the 135 hours of pre-licensing course that is required by the California Bureau of Real Estate as one of the basic prerequisites. 
  4. You must complete the pre-licensing course from an approved real estate school.
  5. You must pass the California real estate exam with a valid score of 70% or higher. It is mandatory or else the score will not be considered valid.
  6. Next, you must pass a background check to check for any criminal records in your name. 
  7. After all documents are approved and ready, you must deposit a license application along with all associated fees for an official application to get your license.

Fulfill these fundamental requirements to kickstart your career as a real estate agent in California.  

Overview of the California real estate market

The real estate market in California is infamous for its high prices, expensiveness, and competitive atmosphere. The major cities that are popular among real estate investors are

  1. San Francisco and,
  2. Los Angeles

In both these regions, the demand for properties, housing and commercial, is very high. People want to live here because of the atmosphere it displays, the vibe, and the Hollywood landscape presence.

many suburbs and out-city areas are more affordable and cost-effective for other economic sections of the investor portfolio.

Overall, the market is constantly changing and can be unpredictable many times.

Common educational requirements for obtaining a real estate license in California

Let us now come to the most critical point that is, the educational qualifications needed to be a licensed real estate agent in California. You must know and be aware of the below-mentioned facts:

You will need to complete three college-level courses in

  1. Real Estate Principles, 
  2. Real Estate Practice and,
  3. One Elective Course

You will have to cover a wide range of courses and topics such as property ownership, agency relationships, contracts, agreements, accounts, and finance, along with property valuation in the above courses.

Moreover, you must clear the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam. This is the exam that tests your knowledge of the state's real estate laws and regulations and how prepared you are for it.

California real estate agent

How do you get into real estate without a valid degree?

Believe it or not, it is not technically difficult to get into a real estate career without a degree in your hands. There are several ways to get into real estate without a degree and you should know what works best for you.

How important is a degree in the real estate industry? Is it mandatory?

Truth be said, you cannot negate the importance of having a degree before you enter the real estate career path. The importance of it all can be highlighted by the following points:

  1. It helps you to gain the knowledge and information required to know about the real estate field.
  2. It helps you to learn to walk before you run. This means it gives you the theoretical knowledge of the skills that you will implement practically in the field.
  3. It helps you know about real estate law, finance, property management, and more to be prepared.
  4. More importantly, if you have a degree in real estate, it can make you more competitive in the job market in contrast to your contemporaries. 
  5. It helps you to get much higher salaries and bonuses and more lucrative job opportunities in the field.

So, if you can earn a degree, make it useful.

Exhausting all alternative paths for entering the real estate industry without a degree

Yes, there are many alternative paths for you to enter the real estate scene in California other than being a degree holder. 

These are:

  1. One of the most common paths is to start and enter the field as a real estate agent. The requirements are mentioned and discussed above on how to become one.
  2. You can opt to take courses to become a licensed agent and begin working with a real estate brokerage firm under a licensed broker.
  3. Another alternative option is to work for a property management company where you can learn the ins and outs of it all. 
  4. Next, you can also think about starting your own real estate investment business. But think clearly before this one as it requires a huge amount of capital and business expertise from you. 

So, in conclusion, there are many different paths to success in real estate, and the key is to find the one that works best for you and you only. No two people have the same stories to tell. 

I hope it answers your question- "How to get into real estate without a degree?" clearly.

The relevance of Self-study and online courses in getting into the business

Self-study and online courses have become increasingly popular lately due to their convenient and flexible nature. With self-study courses, you can set your own pace of learning. You can design your schedule which works for you.

It is true when said that online courses provide the added benefit of being able to connect with instructors and classmates from anywhere in the world. This helps in enriching your learning experience even from afar. The sky is the limit.

These options have made education more accessible to those who are busy with their work schedules or those of you who live in faraway remote locations.

How Networking and mentorship opportunities can be a boon to your career growth?

It must be known clearly that yes; networking and mentorship opportunities play a hugely significant role in your personal and professional growth as a real estate professional. why? 


  1. They help you expand your knowledge, practical skills, and career experiences as a professional. You must absorb it all to use later when needed. 
  2. They provide you with valuable connections and resources to move forward in your career. 
  3. Networking opens doors to many new opportunities and chances for you. It helps you introduce yourself to people who can help you achieve your goals. 
  4. On the other hand, proper mentorship can offer direction, support, and knowledge from someone who has been in your shoes and has seen and done it all. It naturally helps you learn from their experiences and make a way for yourself keeping in mind their recommendations and advice. This in turn helps you make well-informed decisions. 

Therefore, both networking and mentorship can be a boon for your professional development and success in the real estate field.

Overview of real estate degree programs

If you want to experience a comprehensive understanding of the real estate industry as a whole, you must invest your time in taking a good real estate degree program. 

These programs typically cover topics on property valuation, investment analysis of real estate properties, commercial leasing and renting, contracts and agreements property management, and real estate law. 

Some Common Courses and Curriculum in Real Estate Programs

The real estate programs are primarily a mix of 2 types of courses. 

  1. Core courses: These courses are mandatory and compulsory for everyone to study and pass. These courses build the educational foundational requirement needed to become a well-educated and informed real estate agent. These courses cover - principles of real estate, real estate law, real estate finance, property management, real estate appraisal, real estate marketing, and real estate investments.
  2. Elective Courses: these courses are an add-on to the core courses. Everyone must select a few electives as per their interest in the field and the area they want to specialize in as a real estate agent. These can be different for two people choosing them. These have real estate development, urban planning, sustainable development, and real estate data analysis topics under them. 

However, the exact curriculum may differ based on the program and the level of study chosen by the aspirant.

Understanding the value of Accreditation and reputable real estate degree programs

You must put effort into researching institutes that offer programs that are both accredited and reputable. 

The importance of being reputable is that it is an indicator of the program's success in preparing its graduates for the real estate industry and the oncoming challenges therein. 

On the other hand, accreditation ensures that the program clears and meets certain standards of quality of education provided. This will allow program takers to come and fight on a level playing field when they go out in the real world. 

Therefore, you must find and join the program that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in this exciting field and make your mark. Your research will be worth it.