How to become a real estate agent in California

If you’re interested in a career in real estate, the requirements to become a licensed agent vary depending on the state. California is currently a red-hot market. Two of real estate database Zillow’s top locations for 2018 are within the state, with San Francisco at number three, and San Jose topping the list at number one. However, if you want to work in this market as a real estate agent, certain requirements must be met.


In addition to the basic requirement, that those going for their license are at least eighteen years of age, and that they pass a background check, there are certain education prerequisites that must be fulfilled. According to the California Bureau of Real Estate, three college-level courses are required to qualify for the real estate salesperson examination. The two required courses are “Real Estate Principles” and “Real Estate Practices,” as well as a third course chosen from an approved list, with courses offered including “Real Estate Appraisal.” “Property Management,” “Real Estate Finance,” etc. Each course runs about 45 credit hours. These courses can be taken online or in-class as long as they’re given by an accredited institution. Note: if you are a member of the California State Bar, you are exempt from the educational requirements.


Once the required courses are fulfilled, you may apply to the Bureau of Real Estate to write your exam. You can get an application online, and you must send it in along with applicable fees and your transcripts from the school where you completed your three real estate courses.

Continuing Education

Once you pass your exam, you’ll be sent a Salesperson License Application, which must be completed within one year of your exam and must be sent with a licensing fee. At each renewal, salespersons will have to undertake a certain amount of continuing education courses in real estate. Before the first renewal, the requirement is 45 hours, including, as noted by Brightwood Real Estate Education, separate three-hour courses in Ethics, Agency, Trust Fund Handling, Fair Housing and Risk Management, as well as eighteen hours in consumer protection and customer service. Subsequent license renewals also include a continuing education component.

Becoming a Broker

From here, you’ll be able to work as a real estate salesperson, but not a free agent. You’ll have to work under a broker, and can only work for one at a time. To move up to a broker’s license, another set of requirements must be fulfilled. If you’re already a salesperson, after two years of full-time work, you’ll be eligible to write your state exam, provided you meet the educational requirements, which consist of more courses from an accredited institution. Once again, members of the California State Bar are exempt. Those who have graduated from an accredited college or university that have a four-year degree that includes a major or minor in real estate are exempt from the two-year work requirement as a salesperson.

For more information on how to obtain a license, visit the California Bureau of Real Estate’s website.

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