10/26/2021 - California / Michigan

Do You Need A College Degree To Become A Real Estate Broker?

Written by Tessa Sims

In short: Yes and no! 

While you do not need a college degree to become a licensed real estate broker in California, having a college education may make the process faster or easier. To apply for your broker’s license, the Department of Real Estate (DRE) requires a combination of education and experience in the real estate industry.  

Let’s dive further into the ways you can qualify to earn your broker’s license, with or without a college degree.

The Basics

To apply for any type of real estate license in California, you must meet a few basic requirements.  

Applicants must:   

– Be at least 18 years of age  

– Have established California residency  

– Have a clean record, as a criminal history may disqualify you from earning a real estate license 

Once you meet the above criteria, applicants typically start earning their broker’s license in one of three ways: with a salesperson’s license, with a college degree, or with a related career in real estate.  

Start With a Salesperson’s License 

The California DRE issues two types of real estate licenses: Real Estate Salesperson and Real Estate Broker. Many real estate agents begin their career by earning a salesperson’s license, which requires less initial coursework and experience.  

To qualify for the broker’s license, a salesperson must provide proof of two years’ full-time experience in real estate within the past five years. Full-time work is considered 40 hours per week devoted to activity that requires a real estate license. A salesperson working part-time must show proof of 20 hours per week of real estate activities—plus an acceptable transaction volume—for DRE approval to take the broker licensing exam. 

Your supervising broker will need to sign the DRE’s employment verification form to certify that your report of past experience is accurate.  

Start With a College Degree  

If you’ve already earned a college degree from an accredited four-year college or university, your education may help you earn a broker’s license faster. Completing enough related coursework, such as a major or minor in real estate, may mean you’re exempt from the above requirement of two years’ full-time experience as salesperson.  

Unfortunately, degrees and certificates from two-year education institutions do not fulfil the requirements for a broker license application. Graduates of foreign colleges or universities must submit their credentials for DRE evaluation and approval on a case-by-case basis.  

If you’re a member of the California State Bar, you’re automatically exempt from the college-level courses required to apply for a broker’s license. Instead, Bar Members must provide two pieces of verification:  

– Proof of authorization to practice law in California, such as a Bar Membership Card 

– Employment verification to demonstrate two years’ full-time real estate-related experience (similar to the salesperson’s requirement) while practicing law  

Candidates who are California State Bar Members should use the same DRE employment verification form linked above for a licensed salesperson.   

Start With a Related Career in Real Estate  

If you have enough experience in a real estate-related industry, you may qualify for your broker’s license at the DRE’s discretion. You must submit documentation of two years’ full-time experience for approval, and complete the eight college-level courses required for a broker’s license.  

To be approved by the DRE as sufficient non-licensed real estate experience, you may have been employed:  

– In the mortgage industry as a title, loan, or escrow officer  

– As a builder or subdivider, performing duties related to real estate purchasing, financing, or development  

– As a real estate appraiser or property inspector  

Note that your employment history must include direct involvement in real estate transactions—in other words, that the applicant has experience with the laws and procedures related to purchasing, selling, developing, or subdividing real estate in California.   

Ready to Learn More?  

If you’re already a licensed agent and ready to take your career to the next level, check out our self-paced broker license program. Not yet licensed, but thinking about becoming a real estate salesperson? Find out how to earn your license in just 100 days, and try a free class with us!