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How to Get a Real Estate License in California

If you've dreamed of a career in real estate and are interested in earning your real estate license, you may be wondering exactly what you need to do in order to pursue your dream. One of the first steps if you want to sell or lease real estate in the state of California is to obtain your California Real Estate Salesperson license.

Here's what you need to know about the process to ensure your success.

Real Estate License Requirements in California

One of the critical steps in getting a real estate license in California is passing the Salesperson license exam. In order to qualify to take the exam, you must meet the following requirements:

Be at least 18 years of age

Show proof that you have completed the minimum of 135 credit hours of required education with a school like ADHI Schools. The credit hours must be a combination of the following:

45 credit hours in Real Estate Principles

45 credit hours in Real Estate Practice

45 credit hours in an additional elective course as approved by the California Department of Real Estate.

Steps to Get Your California Real Estate License

Getting your California real estate license is a worthwhile goal as it allows you to help clients sell, buy and even rent properties to move your client closer to financial freedom. The process is precise and also fairly straightforward as you can finish your real estate courses online.

Countless people do it every year and while it may feel intimidating, it's also a necessary step on your journey towards the type of career you've always seen for yourself.

To successfully get your real estate license, all you need to do is complete a few simple steps, which you can read more about below.

1. Account for Your State Licensing and Education Requirements

This is particularly important, as California requires you to take pre-licensing training from an approved course provider before you can even think about sitting for the exam. Note that the required number of training hours will vary wildly depending on the state. In California, for example, you need to take 135 hours to meet this criteria. That number might be different if you were taking courses in another state.

In California you have the option of taking this pre-licensing education both in-person and by way of real estate courses online.

2. Take the State Licensing Exam

Once your education requirements are out of the way, you can move onto arguably the most important step of all: actually taking (and passing) your licensing exam.

Overall, you'll be asked 150 multiple choice questions to obtain your sales license that cover California real estate laws, rules and regulations.

The good news is that ADHI Schools will fully prepare you for this leg of your journey so you pass the real estate exam with minimal stress!


steps to getting a real estate license

3. Obtain Your Real Estate License

Once you've passed the test, you're almost ready to begin engaging with clients in your area on a daily basis. The next part of the process involves completing and submitting your licensing application and the appropriate application fees. You'll also have to go through a background check, which will typically cost anywhere between $70 and $80.

Note that in the state of California, you must be at least 18-years-old but do not need to have a high school diploma (or GED equivalent) to apply for your license. So make sure you meet these requirements to save yourself a significant amount of time moving forward.

4. Find a Brokerage to Join

At this point it's important to note that in order to legally practice real estate in California, you'll need to work under a supervising broker. Brokers are typically real estate companies who make sure that you (and all other new agents) are adhering to both legal and ethical standards in all interactions with clients and are responsible for supervising their sales staff.

In addition to searching online for a broker with a great training program, our students are also introduced to brokers in their area for career placement. Because brokerages usually pay their agents exclusively in commissions, they're often willing to welcome new people into the fold because they can do so at no direct cost. This means there’s always room for a new agent.

When trying to find a brokerage to partner with, just be sure to find one that you're both comfortable with and that will offer you the type of on-the-job training you need to really make the most out of your career.


How Do I Take Courses That Will Be Approved In Order To Take The Exam?

The good news is that there are a wide array of classroom style or online real estate courses in particular that you can easily take to qualify for the California real estate salesperson exam. It's just that not all courses are created equally, so you have to do your due diligence to find one that actually meets all of the requirements as approved by the California Real Estate Commissioner.

As of 2020, some of the options a new licensee would have are:

As always, it is your responsibility to make sure the courses you take actually satisfy the prerequisites for a real estate license in the state of California. Always double check everything and never assume that you're in the clear.

Once you've found an online real estate course that meets those requirements, the next most important thing to do involves making sure that it falls in line with your own needs and preferences. Some schools meet for a specific number of classes over a period of several weeks, for example, and they work very similarly to traditional college courses in that way. Others allow you to move through material at your own pace.

By knowing what your options are and by understanding how you like and need to learn, you put yourself in the best possible position to choose a course that meets your needs, your lifestyle requirements and most importantly your schedule.

What Proof Should I Provide as Evidence Of Completion Of The Real Estate Educational Requirements?

Official transcripts for the completed courses are sufficient. If you take the coursework through ADHI Schools our certificates will work just fine!

Can I Be Exempt From Meeting The Exam's Educational Requirements?

Pretty much the only way to avoid taking these classes is if you are a member of the California State Bar.

How Much Real Estate Experience Is Required For The Real Estate Salesperson License?

The salesperson license does not have any experience requirements or prerequisites outside of the educational requirements and satisfactory criminal background. You are NOT required to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent in order to apply for the salesperson exam and license.

What Happens Once I Have Met The Educational Requirements For The Exam?

Once you have met the exam's educational requirements, it's time to apply for the actual exam.

You may apply for the salesperson examination by using the Salesperson Exam Application or the Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application. We recommend doing the combo application. The combined application allows you to apply for both the exam and license and pay all applicable fees at the same time and if you have a clear criminal background, your license can be issued immediately!

Once you have submitted your application, you should be prepared to wait around 4-6 weeks for your application to be processed.

Once approved, you will receive an Examination Schedule notice, allowing you to schedule a time for your examination.

California has an eLicensing system that you will use to schedule your examination and check on the status of your exam.

Where Will I Take The Exam?

The real estate exam is currently offered in an electronic format in five cities throughout the state of California, including:


San Diego

Los Angeles and Vicinity



The California Bureau of Real Estate website keeps up to date information on the current locations where the examination is held. You can also get information about available dates and locations for taking the exam prior to submitting your application.

How Long Do I Have To Take The Exam?

You are given 3 hours to complete the examination and a passing score is 70% or better. The exam is qualifying in nature only, which means that a score is not reported unless you fail the test. If you take one of our crash courses through you should be just fine!

Do I Have To Be A Resident Of The State Of California To Apply For a License?

You may apply for a California Real Estate Salesperson license even if you are not a resident of the state. Out-of-state applicants must meet all California examination requirements and complete the courses with an approved California course provider like ADHI Schools.

California does not currently offer license reciprocity with any other jurisdiction. There is no waiver of California real estate license requirements to take the Real Estate Salesperson exam.

What Happens Once I Pass The Real Estate Exam?

Once you have passed the examination, you will need to submit the Salesperson license application (unless you have previously completed the Combined Examination and License application).

You will be required to be fingerprinted through a live scan fingerprint service provider in the state of California. ADHI Schools offers this Livescan service.

Once you have completed the application along with providing the applicable fees, the Bureau of Real Estate will review your application for approval.

Out-of-state applicants have a few additional steps in applying for a license.

Out-of-state persons must submit a notarized Consent of Service Process form along with their original application.

How Do I Receive My Salesperson License?

Once your license has been approved, a copy will be provided to your sponsoring real estate broker. If you do not currently have a sponsoring broker, you will be mailed a copy of the salesperson license with a non-working status.

ADHI Schools can also help with career placement!

What Does A Califorina Real Estate Salesperson License Allow Me To Do?

A salesperson is able to act on behalf of a broker in selling and renting California real estate. A salesperson may not act as a real estate agent independently. All licensees who have passed the salesperson exam (both California residents and non-residents), must work under the supervision of a California real estate broker in order to receive working status.

Aspiring real estate brokers must work under a responsible broker for a minimum of two years before being eligible to apply for a real estate broker license.

Once you have taken the California Real Estate salesperson license, passed, and received your license, you will be prepared to follow your dreams of pursuing a career in real estate!

If you have any questions about how to get a real estate license in California, please feel free to contact us for more information. Our number is 888-768-5285.


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