If you’ve worked in California real estate for a while, you know there are financial advantages to earning a broker license. Real estate brokers in California can still serve their own clients while simultaneously collecting desk fees and up to 50% of the commissions of the agents working for them.
They can also take on a leadership role at a brokerage or open their own, coaching and mentoring other agents and profiting from their success. But first, let us help you pursue your California real estate broker license by walking you through the requirements and the steps you’ll need to follow.
What Are the California Real Estate Broker License Requirements?
To be eligible for a real estate broker license in California, you must be:
- 18 years old
- A California resident
- Honest and truthful
In addition, you must be either an experienced real estate agent or have related experience or education. The state of California requires that broker applicants have one of the following:
- Spent at least two out of the last five years as a full-time, licensed agent (or the equivalent as a part-time agent)
- Two years of unlicensed equivalent experience
- A four-year degree in real estate
Applicants who have not been active, licensed real estate agents are still eligible for the broker exam, provided they have met the experience requirements.
Let’s explore the four steps involved, and then we’ll answer frequently asked questions about becoming a licensed real estate broker in California.
How to Get a California Real Estate Broker License in 4 Steps
Becoming a California real estate broker shouldn’t be as intimidating of a process as becoming a real estate agent. After all, you already have experience in the industry and know others who have taken this leap in their careers. Here’s a breakdown of each step in the process.
1. Complete 360 Hours of California Real Estate Broker License Courses
- Cost: As low as $479 with Allied Real Estate School
- Time commitment: 5 months
- Helpful resource: 6 Best Real Estate Schools in California for 2023
To become a real estate broker in California, you need to complete 360 course hours through an institution of higher learning accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or a private real estate school approved by the California Real Estate Commission, such as Allied Real Estate School.
The prelicensing and continuing education courses that you took to earn and keep your California real estate license can’t be used toward your 360 hours to become a broker.
Each college-level California real estate broker license course is 45 hours in length. Here’s what they cover:
- Real estate practice
- Legal aspects of real estate
- Real estate finance
- Real estate appraisal
- Real estate economics (or accounting)
You’ll also have to choose three from this list of elective classes:
- Real estate principles
- Business law
- Property management
- Real estate office administration
- Mortgage loan brokering and lending
- Advanced legal aspects of real estate
- Advanced real estate finance
- Advanced real estate appraisal
- Computer applications in real estate
- Common interest developments
As you know from earning your agent license, learning this material won’t be a walk in the park. This makes choosing the right California real estate school crucial to your success. We recommend that you take your California real estate broker license courses through Allied Real Estate School.
Why? Allied Real Estate School is one of the only national online schools to offer all 360 hours of classes you need to become a California broker. In addition, the online courses are expertly designed, and the company provides live support if you require additional help.
Explore the course requirements and sign up today to get your California real estate broker license by visiting the Allied Real Estate School website.
6 Best Online Real Estate Schools in California (CA) in 2024
2. Complete the California Broker Exam & License Application
- Cost: $395
- Time commitment: 1-2 hours
- Helpful resource: California Department of Real Estate’s application guide
In this step, you’ll be applying for the broker exam ($95) and broker license ($300) at the same time. This application requires you to provide your personal contact details and answer a series of yes-or-no questions about any criminal history you may have.
You’ll also be required to submit documentation to prove that you have completed your broker course and work experience requirements, along with the $395 application fee.
You can choose to have the government agency schedule the test for you, or you can check the box on the application allowing you to schedule it yourself.
Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis
3. Pass the California Real Estate Broker License Exam
- Cost: $95 (already included in the fee above)
- Time commitment: 4 hours
- Helpful resource: California Department of Real Estate’s exam guide
Time to Complete
Computer-based, 200 multiple-choice questions
This is it! If you want to be more confident before the exam, you may want to brush up with some test prep classes. Some exam prep packages already include workbooks, digital flashcards, and practice exams that you can use to retain information more easily. But if you need some extra help, consider a separate test prep class from a provider such as Kaplan.
Check out Kaplan’s test prep for the California broker exam
On exam day, you should bring one of the following to the testing center:
- Current state-issued driver’s license or identification card
- U.S. passport or passport issued by a foreign government
- U.S. military identification card
The California real estate exam testing sites are located in the following cities:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
We recommend that you arrive 30 minutes early to the testing site. Visit the state of California’s Department of Real Estate page to learn more about the exam and review the list of items that aren’t permitted in the exam room (including everyday items like calculators, pens, and cell phones).
You’ll learn whether you passed or failed immediately upon completing the broker exam. If you didn’t pass, you can retake the exam as many times as necessary, as long as you’re successful within two years of filing your initial application.
The Average Real Estate Broker Salary for Every State
4. Pass a Background Check
- Cost: $49
- Time commitment: 1-2 hours
- Helpful resource: California Department of Real Estate fingerprint guide
Once you’ve completed your application and passed your exam, you’ll need to submit your fingerprints at a Live Scan fingerprint location. Then, you must wait for the state to process your application and complete your background check. Visit the state’s website for current processing times.
Once you have your California broker license, you’ll be free to open your own real estate brokerage and grow your business. Are you excited? You should be!
How to Start a Real Estate Brokerage in 2024 (Without Going Broke)
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate Broker License in California?
California Real Estate Governing Board:
California Department of Real Estate
Class Hours Required:
$429 to $479
Total Estimated Costs:
It costs approximately $1,000 to obtain a real estate broker license in California. This is probably similar to what you paid to earn your real estate license when you first entered the profession.
Sample California Real Estate Broker License Costs
|Classes (360 hours)
|Exam prep (optional)
|Broker license application & exam registration
(California real estate broker license costs as of July 2023)
Pursue your California real estate broker’s license by enrolling in courses with Allied Real Estate School!
Do Real Estate Brokers Make Good Money in California?
According to The Close’s salary information database, a broker in California makes an average of $81,710. While a real estate agent only makes commissions when they assist with the purchase or sale of a property, a broker may have more sources of income.
A California real estate broker may collect desk fees and a percentage of the commissions of the real estate sales agents working under them. Additionally, some real estate brokers receive income from the ownership of businesses like title companies or mortgage companies.
Finally, some real estate brokers enjoy an uptick in the number of clients because of their demonstrated experience and advanced licensure. Homeowners facing high-dollar real estate transactions may put more trust in a real estate broker to guide them through a home sale or purchase.
California Real Estate Broker License FAQs
Still have questions? We have the answers! Keep reading to learn more about the time commitment and financial benefits of becoming a broker, as well as information about license reciprocity between California and other states. If you have other questions, we would love to hear them in the comments section of this article.
Is getting my California real estate broker license worth it?
There certainly may be a financial benefit to earning your California real estate broker license. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly income of a real estate broker in California is about $17,000 higher than that of a real estate agent. This additional income typically comes from having real estate agents work under you and collecting desk fees and a share of their commissions.
However, that additional income comes with additional business expenses and responsibilities. As a real estate broker in California, you’re responsible for operating a business that’ll support your staff. If you open your own office, you’ll need to pay for rent and utilities as well as the training of your agents.
There are certainly pros and cons of upgrading your license. You have to decide whether increasing your responsibilities and expenses is worth the additional income. Learn more about a broker’s income and expenses by reading Real Estate Broker vs Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis.
How long does it take to become a real estate broker in California?
It takes six to nine months to become a real estate broker in California. If you’re currently working as a real estate agent, you’ll have to take your classes in your spare time. As a busy agent in today’s demanding market, we understand that it may be challenging to carve out the time.
How difficult is the California real estate broker exam?
The California Department of Real Estate doesn’t currently publish the success rate of those taking the real estate broker exam. However, you will need to earn a grade of 75% or higher to pass the exam.
What if I want to move my real estate business to California from another state?
California has no real estate license reciprocity with any other state. If you are applying from another state, you’ll have to complete all education and application requirements from scratch. If you just want to conduct a transaction or two in California, you may be able to do so and get paid a portion of the commission. However, while agents licensed in other states can represent clients in out-of-state transactions in California, they must do so remotely. To learn more about reciprocity, check out our state-by-state guide.
More Career Resources From The Close
We hope you feel confident enough to take the first steps to advance your real estate career.
The Close offers plenty of career resources for new brokers and real estate professionals at every stage of their career. You can subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest articles delivered directly to your inbox. And if you want to connect with real estate agents across the country, join our Facebook Mastermind Group.