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How to Get a Real Estate License in California

Having real estate license in the state of California can really make for a lucrative career, but actually obtaining a license can be an intimidating process. Luckily, getting your license is actually a very straightforward process.

The State of California offers a huge number of resources that can help you on your way to becoming a realtor. There are a number of programs and opportunities which were designed to help people like you to become realtors.

Still considering whether or not to become a realtor? Before jumping into real estate you should make sure that it will be financially worthwhile for you. Each area of the state has a different market and you'll want to tap into a market that will be lucrative. If you cannot relocate to another area of the state, it's a good idea to make sure your area has a strong real estate market.

A good way to make sure that a particular area is worthwhile is to ask realtors in the area how business is going for them. As it may not be in their best interest to be completely honest with you, it's still a good way to get a feel for the market. Another way to test the market is to look at real estate catalogs and see how many houses in the catalog have been sold. If the area seems like a good place to practice, then your next step is to become a realtor.

Los Angeles on a clear day

Los Angeles on a clear day

Types of California Real Estate Licenses

There are two different types of real estate licenses in the State of California. You should know which license you'll want before you even apply. If you're new to the real estate business your best bet is to start out with a salesperson license and then work under a broker while working on getting your broker license.

Working under a broker is a great way to get experience in real estate as well as learn about the various aspects of becoming a broker. In a way, this is much like an apprenticeship.

Real Estate Courses

Before applying for your license, you will need to take several real estate courses. While taking these courses, you will learn the basics of real estate which include the principles and how to practice. You will also be required to take an elective course which is often your choice of one of the following: appraisal, business law, finance, or property management. You will also be required to choose an elective. Your best bet is to choose an elective that most closely relates to your local market and what you want to do with your career.

A large number of community colleges offer real estate classes or you can choose to take them online through a number of programs that are approved by California's Department of Real Estate. After you take your courses, you will be required to take (and pass) the California Department of Real Estate exam. Luckily, the real estate classes you will take not only teach how to practice real estate but also offer test prep for the exam.

Quick Poll

Preparing for the Exam

In preparing for your exam, you should obtain a copy of the exam prep booklet that the state offers. There are also a number of courses you can take in addition to required real estate courses that will help you prepare for the exam.

Several requirements must be met before taking the exam which includes having taken the required courses and being at least 18 years of age. Also, you will be required to fill out and submit an application. There are two different applications: one for those who are residents of California and those who live outside of California who would like to practice real estate in California.

The Background Check

Once you've passed the exam, you've completed the most difficult part of becoming a realtor. However, you still must go through the Live Scan fingerprint and receive a background check. This is required by law in California. However, if you've held a valid California real estate license within the past two years, you are not required to do the Live Scan fingerprinting.

After you've completed your courses, passed the licensing exam, received your background check, and met a number of other minor requirements, you will be awarded your real estate license. You will then be ready to practice real estate in the State of California.


Willow Mattox from Northern California on December 20, 2017:

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I am a licensed Realtor in California. You have to pass the background check before taking the exam. Also, while you are correct that there are two licenses, real estate salesperson or broker, you HAVE TO get your real estate salesperson license first. Then after at least 2 years experience working under a broker, completing more required courses, and taking another licensing exam, you can become a broker. Overall you wrote a good overview on how to get licensed. I like your advice to talk to other agents to get a feel for the market and possible need for agents in your area before taking on this challenge. If the market is weak, it will only support so many agents!

josephfinkelberg from Illnois, United States on June 27, 2012:

Being a realtor in California is not an easy task but it is so exciting for those who are eager to earn in this type of business. A wise realtor must know the ins and outs of real estate business process. As the quotation says, "No pain, no gain". This is somewhat true to many businesses like real estate.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 22, 2011:

Very detailedhub and useful for people looking for that sort of employment.

jobister from Anaheim, California on January 21, 2011:

Very good information for anyone trying to become a realtor in california. Thank you!

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