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Steps + Tips to getting your California Real Estate License

Are you considering a career in real estate? Having a license is a great step for this career path, but keep in mind, that you don’t need a real estate in order to start your real estate path! Many real estate jobs and internships don’t require it at first! Many CSUF alumni going to the real estate route don’t have their licenses and they are working in full-time analyst and property management careers! Don't let trying to pass the license hold you back from stepping into real estate and networking! Start networking with real estate professionals from CSUF Real Estate Association to understand what kind of job you would be interested too! There are so many jobs in this industry, so make sure you do your research first. Whether you want to be an agent or a broker, if you want to buy or sell real estate in California, you'll need a real estate license. On this page, I will share my experience obtaining my real estate license. The process was confusing when I was preparing for it, so I'm excited to share my insights to help others make their journey much easier.

You can enter other real estate jobs other than being a real estate agent!

Step 1: Must be at Least 18 Years of Age

In addition to being 18 years of age, you must also be a citizen of the US.

Step 2: Register for and Complete 135 Hours of Required Education

In order to apply for the California Real Estate License Exam, the state requires you to complete 135 hours of the DRE-approved college-level real estate courses.

Successful completion of three college-level courses is required to qualify for a real estate salesperson examination (Source: DRE.CA):

  1. Real Estate Principles, and

  2. Real Estate Practice*, and

  3. One course from the following list:

  • Real Estate Appraisal

  • Property Management

  • Real Estate Finance

  • Real Estate Economics

  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate

  • Real Estate Office Administration

  • General Accounting

  • Business Law

  • Escrows

  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending

  • Computer Applications in Real Estate

  • Common Interest Developments

You can take it at CSUF or there are various online courses you can do at your own pace! I took it from the Colbri Real Estate Course. I recommend getting just the basics rather than paying the exam preparation. I bought the added packages and personally did not help. However, having an exam preparation guide is still very important since the 3 courses are still not enough to prep for the actual exam. If you are someone who can practice online independently then I recommend PrepAgent which you can practice by taking tests in each section and provides a dictionary. You would need to the real estate vocabulary definitions and how they relate to scenarios because the test can trick people’s minds. PrepAgent helped when I needed to practice on a certain topic with scenario questions!

My preference for studying would be hands-on training. I personally believe that was how I passed the exam because the teacher that I did a crash course with, helped me not overthink the material and helped me remember the important keywords to each scenario/vocab on the test. I was one of the first people in my exam time to finish and pass the test. It is more of an investment you have to make because it is not on the cheaper sie, but it was worth it. It was a 3-day in-person course at Anaheim called RETRAINERS. Youtube videos was also a big help for practicing!

Did you know CSUF students are qualified to take the Broker’s license test after taking 8 courses under the BA in the Finance Real Estate track?!

“As of April 9th, 2019, we have entered into an Articulation agreement with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) to allow students to sit for the Broker License Exam upon completion of the BA in Finance Real Estate track and all 8 courses set by the DRE without prior experience. Details of the agreement can be found here. Additional information is available on the DRE Broker requirements page.”

Step 3: Get Approved to schedule your Real Estate Salesperson Exam, including Fingerprinting and Background Check

After passing your course, now becomes the waiting game step. Not sure how long the process is now because back in 2021, it took over 6 months for mine to get approved. So try to apply by mail or online right after you receive your transcript or certifications. Then while waiting for your application to get approved, you can studying for the test.

Here are the steps required in order to get approved: Salesperson Examination and License Application Process

Step 4: Take the California Salesperson License Exam!

To pass the California Salesperson License Exam, you will need a score of 70% or better. The results won't show what score you got if you passed, only if you didn't pass. Be positive that you are ready for success on exam day! You got this!!!

Pro tip: Start gaining real estate skills before the license exam, for example, if you want to be a real estate agent, get any sales job or shadow someone in real estate while studying so when you pass the exam, you are ahead for the next steps! Also if you are going into brokerage, having a sales job + saving money will help increase your business success since a real estate agent is a commission based job so you will need some sort of income to pay for your marketing, brokerage fees, and license fees! It really is like starting your own business! I would say recommended of 3 months worth of savings. Many brokerages are gonna mail you to join them once your name and information is on the license exam so, make sure to research the companies and prepare those questions to see if they are the right fit for you!

You got this!!

For more info with updated guidelines check out

Written by: Karyl Suarez

CSUF REA Alumni and Former REA Director of Marketing

Linkedin: KarylSuarez


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