California’s real estate market offers plenty of exciting opportunities for investors and agents—however, you‘ll need to get a broker’s license before you can get started. If you’re wondering what’s the difference between a real estate agent and a broker, you’re not alone. The terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s a small difference to note.

Real estate agents and brokers can both buy and sell properties. However, only a broker can work independently and employ real estate agents. Are you ready to get your California broker license? Here’s everything you need to know to help you get started.

Key Steps to Getting Your Real Estate Broker License

Unfortunately, you can’t take a test to receive your broker license. While there is an exam, you must also complete a few additional steps.

Get Some Industry Experience

To meet California requirements, you will need experience or education in the real estate industry. If you currently hold a real estate license, you must have two years of experience over five years. This means you can work as an agent for a year and take time off as long as you complete the second year within five years.

Unlicensed real estate professionals must have at least two years of experience in the industry. Some examples include working as a real estate developer, property manager, or as an escrow officer. If you have a four-year degree from an accredited college with either a major or minor in real estate, this also qualifies as industry experience.

Licensed real estate agents will need to submit an employment verification form. The form must also be signed by the brokerage firm you are or were employed by. If you’re claiming experience in the industry, you will submit the Equivalent Experience Verification form. Don’t forget to have the form signed by two people willing to verify your claim.

Submit Multiple Certificates

Okay, now it is going to feel like you’re going back to school, and in a sense, you are. California law requires all potential real estate brokers to submit eight certificates. Yes, it’s a lot, but you may already have some of the required certificates secured from your past studies.

What are the eight certificates?

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Real Estate Economics or Accounting

From the following list, you only need to choose three, and a good tip is to pick the three that interest you or apply to the reason you’re going for your broker license:

  • Real Estate Principles
  • Business Law
  • Property Management
  • Escrow
  • 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

If you take both Real Estate Economics and Real Estate Accounting, you only need to take two classes from the second list; but, a word of caution here—be careful where you take your real estate broker classes. The school must be accredited by either the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or the California Department of Real Estate.

You should expect to spend around 45 hours on each course and can often divide it into three semesters or four quarters, which allows you to complete each course while still juggling everyday life.

Take and Pass the California Real Estate Exam

Guess what? You get to take an exam after passing your chosen eight classes. If you’re already familiar with the California real estate exam, the broker test is similar.

You start by filling out the Broker Examination Application and submitting the required paperwork. Your application and paperwork are submitted to the DRE, and there’s also a processing fee you’re required to pay. On the application, you can select the date, time, and exam location or let the DRE schedule it for you.

After all of that, a confirmation email will be sent out to you, and you’re finally all set. Something to remember here is time, as you have two years to pass the broker exam after submitting your application.

The following locations hold testing during the week, and it’s a good idea to pick one closest to your location.

  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • San Diego
  • Fresno
  • Sacramento

What can you expect the California real estate broker exam to cover? You’ll find questions covering the following topics.

  • Contracts
  • Financing
  • Laws of Agency
  • Practice of Real Estate and Mandated Disclosures
  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations
  • Transfer of Property
  • Valuation and Market Analysis

The exam runs for five hours, and you will need a score of at least 75 to receive your broker license. The results are also displayed on your electronic test screen after hitting ‘submit’.

Submit All of Your Paperwork

Congratulations! You passed your California real estate broker exam. Now it’s time to apply for your broker license. The DRE will supply the application form for you to fill out. You will also pay a processing fee and be required to submit the following documents.

  • An Employment Verification form or an Equivalent Experience Verification
  • Your transcript or Course Completion Certificate
  • Proof of license fee payment
  • Your Broker’s License Application form

You’re also required to submit your fingerprints for a thorough background check. If you have already completed this step, attach the documents to your application. There is another fee associated with your background check, but don’t worry, it’s the last one you have to pay.

Are You a Real Estate Broker in Another State?

Unfortunately, you currently cannot transfer real estate broker licenses from another state to California. So, even if your license is current and in good standing, you’ll still need to go through the state’s own requirements and acquire an all-new license in California, which means taking classes and passing the exam.

Become a Real Estate Broker Today

While it takes some hard work and a lot of studying to become a licensed real estate broker, for many, it’s more than worth all the time and effort. Being a real estate broker can be a lucrative and rewarding career.

So, what are you waiting for? Enter the California Real Estate Exam with confidence and secure your license so you can begin your new career as a broker.