Did you know that real estate offers opportunities for professional development and advancing your skills as an agent? It’s not as difficult as you might think to set yourself apart from the rest—studies show that after five years, only 13% of new licensees are still practicing real estate. Whether you initially earned your license to work as a real estate salesperson or other professional in the industry, applying for your real estate broker’s license can be a smart way to take your career to the next level.   

Is a Real Estate Broker Different from a Real Estate Salesperson?  

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) issues two types of real estate licenses: Real Estate Salesperson and Real Estate Broker. Earning either of these licenses puts applicants through the same basic process—you must complete required coursework and pass both the course exams and state licensing exam.  

All licensees must also complete continuing education (CE) coursework towards renewing their real estate licenses every four years. Maintaining ethical and professional standards in real estate is also expected, as is a good standing as a citizen under the law.  

Both a licensed salesperson and a licensed broker may assist clients with real estate transactions, or use their license to enter a real estate-adjacent field, like property management, appraisal, inspection, or mortgage lending. Overall, earning a salesperson’s license limits your real estate business to working as a solo agent or as a member of team—a salesperson may not hire or supervise other licensed real estate agents.  

Qualifications Become a Real Estate Broker in California

Applicants for any real estate license in California must meet a few basic requirements:   

– Be at least 18 years of age  

– Have established California residency  

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

Typically, broker license candidates will have already earned a salesperson’s license and employment history in the real estate industry. While other combinations of education and experience are considered valid, most applicants will need to complete eight college-level real estate courses required by the DRE.  

Broker license candidates must also submit proof of completed coursework and equivalent experience to the DRE for approval. Before you can apply for a broker’s license, candidates are expected to demonstrate two years’ full-time professional experience in real estate. Once DRE approval is issued, you must schedule your broker licensing exam and obtain a passing score to earn your license.  

The Benefits of Earning a Broker License  

Licensed brokers enjoy professional benefits even if they continue working as solo agents for an established broker-owner. Clients may perceive licensed real estate brokers as having higher levels of expertise, which can increase demand for their services. As a result, licensed brokers may be able to negotiate keeping a bigger portion of their commission.  

For some real estate agents, obtaining their broker’s license is a way to further their real estate career. This next-level of licensing allows you to supervise other agents, and can be the first step in building your own real estate team or opening a new brokerage. Independent brokers may work as a “one-agent brokerage” to keep more of their commissions while avoiding the responsibility of managing other agents.  

Agents who start their own brokerage may enjoy working in a supervisory role that allows them to deal more with people than the day-to-day details of handling transactions. Starting your own brokerage might also mean narrowing your business focus to a specific area of real estate, such as luxury or commercial properties. Other brokers focus on working with a specific type of clientele, like first-time buyers, veterans, or professionals needing relocation assistance. When you’re the boss, the choice is up to you! 

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!