How to Get a California Real Estate License in 6 Steps

If you'v'e dreamed of a real estate career 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.


The required coursework can be finished in as little as 54 days, from there,the time to schedule an exam and get your license issued can vary based on volume of applications received by and workload at the Department of Real Estate.

You'll need to spend some money on required coursework. With ADHI Schools, we have packages that can range from $150 up to $499. You'll then have to take the state exam and get your license. You should budget about $550-$1,000 depending on whether you do the classes with an instructor or self study for coursework, license fees and criminal background.

You can do the classes at home, but you'll have to go to a state approved facility to take the government exam. There are five locations in Fresno,Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and La Palma wherein an applicant can take the real estate 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.

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:

  • Community college. Note that many community colleges in the state of California currently offer some type of real estate curriculum, and the vast majority of these offer courses that are approved to get your real estate license.
  • California university systems. Both the University of California and California State University currently offer numerous courses that satisfy the Real Estate Commissioner's requirements.
  • Foreign universities. Any courses that you're planning on taking at foreign universities MUST be evaluated ahead of time by a DRE-approved Credentials Evaluation Service. Not only that, but written evidence that this evaluation has taken place must also be presented in a satisfactory manner.
  • Private schools. While many private schools in California offer real estate curriculum, only those who have made a formal request, have submitted an application, and who have obtained formal approval from the Real Estate Commissioner are able to offer those required for pre-license education. In other words, their qualifications are not a guarantee so don't take them for granted.

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