Job and Education Information for Working With Properties

Real Estate Careers

Last Updated: 4/29/2022
Advertising & Editorial Disclosure
By     |  

If you want to pursue a career in real estate, you have the option of working within two groups: commercial and residential. Within those groups, however, there are several different career paths. This guide will explore various real estate careers and their standard salaries, discuss the skills and education needed to get into the industry and offer resources to help with the job hunt.

Real Careers in Real Estate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the real estate workforce is reaching new highs of over 400,000 establishments - well on its way back up a decade after the housing bubble burst. Why? Home prices have stabilized and the market is steadily seeing homes for sale. Commercial real estate, too, is on the upswing.

Below are some real estate career paths that show signs of growth:

Entry-Level Careers

tip icon

Although people could sell, buy or rent a property on their own, real estate brokers are better equipped to navigate the complicated process.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped with real estate sales agents)

High school diploma, numerous hours of real estate course and a licensing exam.

tip icon

A real estate agent works under a broker doing much the same job. He coordinates sales, works either with sellers or buyers and keeps up to date on real estate laws and financing options to put the right buyer in the right property.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped with real estate sales brokers)

High school diploma, numerous hours of real estate course and a licensing exam.

tip icon

How much is an extra bedroom worth? How does that new overpass nearby affect selling price? How would double-glazed windows change a property's value? These are all questions real estate appraisers can answer. They look at a building — or a piece of land — and put a price tag on it. typically before it is sold, developed, mortgaged, taxed or insured. They base their values on how other nearby homes or commercial properties have recently sold.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped with real estate sales assessors)

Bachelor's degree and license or certification.

tip icon

Real estate assessors are similar to appraisers but generally work for a city, county, township, etc. and might estimate the value of a whole neighborhood, typically for tax purposes.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 8%
(grouped with real estate appraisers)

Usually a high school diploma, but criteria vary from state to state.

tip icon

Often, houses and properties are leased, not sold, as a way of generating passive income for owners. Owners who own many properties delegate oversight of the day-to-day operations to a property and real estate manager, who coordinates rent and bill collection, advertises vacancies, and ensures the property is being appropriately used.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped as property, real estate, and community association managers)

Bachelor's degree, with licensure required in some states.

tip icon

Real estate asset managers are not involved in details but in long-term investment strategies involving land and property. They work on behalf of companies to determine what to buy or sell based upon their assessment of the property or land value.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped as property, real estate, and community association managers)

Usually a Bachelor's degree, but some introductory management jobs may only require a high school diploma. Others may require a real estate license.

Mid to Senior-Level Careers

tip icon

Senior asset managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a portfolio of real estate investments.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 7%
(grouped as property, real estate, and community association managers)

A bachelor's degree, plus several years of real estate asset management experience. Some employers may prefer MBA candidates.

tip icon

These professionals manage the renovations of commercial real estate space, construction of new offices, and other issues related to infrastructure projects.

JOB OUTLOOK (2018 TO 2028): 10%
(grouped as construction managers)

A bachelor's degree and several years of experience in project management, architecture, or construction.

Related Occupations

tip icon

PROJECTED OUTLOOK(2018 to 2028): %

High school diploma with license or certification in many states.

tip icon

PROJECTED OUTLOOK(2018 to 2028): 10%

High school diploma with on-the-job training.

tip icon

PROJECTED OUTLOOK(2018 to 2028): 8%

Bachelor's degree in business or finance area plus pass a license exam.

tip icon

PROJECTED OUTLOOK(2018 to 2028): 1%

Usually high school diploma. Larger properties may require a bachelor's degree and smaller properties with fewer services an associate's degree or certificate in hotel management or operations.

tip icon

PROJECTED OUTLOOK(2018 to 2028): 11%

Master's degree from accredited planning program.

Real Estate Jobs: What Are They Worth?

Although salaries for brokers have leveled off over the last decade, other real estate professionals are catching up. Sales agents' pay has risen 15 percent in the same period, assessors and appraisers' pay is up 21 percent, and sales agents are making 36 percent more. Take a peek below to get national figures for different real estate professionals.

Going into real estate as a career requires a combination of sales expertise and financial management experience, not to mention in-depth knowledge of how to pair a good buyer with the right home or business property. See how experience can affect annual salaries for real estate sales agents:

How Experience Affects Salaries for Real Estate Agents
  • Experience


Deciding to Get a Job in the Real Estate Market

Just about everyone can appreciate stepping into a beautiful home or office, but it takes a particular type of individual to help close a real estate deal. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before moving into real estate as a career:

Skills You'll Need & Tools You'll Use



Interpersonal skills

At the end of the day, brokers, agents, and managers work with people just as much as they work with buildings. Without tenants, a building is merely an empty space. So those who are personable and communicate do well.


Reading comprehension

Fine print is ladled generously into contracts and financial paperwork. Real estate pros need a keen eye to make sure nothing is missed.



Real estate is a profession for salespeople. If you can't persuade a party to go for any of the properties you show them, you can't make money.



For appraisers and assessors especially, judgment is necessary because they put a dollar figure on a building or plot.

Tools / Technology



Brokers spend much of their time driving to different locations so a car often serves as an office away from the office.


Tape measurer

Each square foot is worth money. Real estate pros need to accurately understand and convey to tenants and owners the space they will have.


Digital camera

Real estate brokers take and post photos for marketing purposes. Photos must be good enough to attract buyers, but they cannot misrepresent the space.


Carbon monoxide detector

Buildings need to be safe for occupants. This is just one gadget used to measure safety.

Education Requirements for Real Estate Careers

In order to start a real estate career, a postsecondary degree isn't necessarily required. According to the Occupational Information Network, more than 50 percent of sales agents didn't have education beyond a high school diploma. However, as with most industries, employers increasingly prefer the knowledge and skills gained through a degree program. Below is an overview of real estate degree programs by level to give you an idea of what to expect:

While real estate degrees are offered at all levels, other related disciplines can also help you prepare for a career in the field. If you want to obtain a broader education, or compliment your real estate knowledge, consider any of the following related fields:

  • Business Administration
    A bachelor's or master's in this field is seen as a big plus by commercial real estate businesses that often hire interns who are enrolled in a business degree program. Many employers of property and real estate managers also look for a business degree. Additionally, business courses are useful for independent brokers who want to start their own business.

  • Accounting
    Mortgages, taxes, and interest rates are all numbers-driven so, an accounting degree — or at least bookkeeping coursework — is valuable knowledge.

  • Finance
    For people who view real estate as an investment in a portfolio, finance degrees cover investment banking and financial planning.

  • Public Administration
    For people planning to work in urban planning or with government-owned properties, a public administration degree mixes coursework in government, finances, and management.

Types of Real Estate

Real estate workers can specialize by focusing on different property types. Properties can be divided into two general areas: residential and commercial. Both can be subdivided into further specialties:


  • This is an icon


    Many real estate professionals stick to selling homes, and why not? There were 5.34 million existing homes sold in 2018 alone, according to the National Association of Realtors.

  • This is an icon


    Some agents work at getting renters into apartments and condos, capitalizing on commission from apartment complexes.


  • This is an icon


    These are your typical corporate parks and downtown offices where people spend their weekdays from 9:00 to 5:00. Aside from hospitals, office space attracts the highest price per square foot, making it a valuable commodity.

  • This is an icon


    Retail spaces include everything from strip malls to "power centers" anchored around a big box store. Its price per square foot is almost as high as office space, but there are more than five million extra square feet of it.

  • This is an icon


    Warehouses, assembly plants, and storage space make up the largest share of the real estate market in terms of space.

  • This is an icon


    Hotels switch hands less often than other commercial spaces, but this area is of interest to real estate investors who can bet on the lodging industry.

  • This is an icon

    Undeveloped land

    Before buildings go up, it's just land. Working with undeveloped land is often the realm of assessors and appraisers.

  • This is an icon

    Specialty real estate

    Schools, prisons, churches, and stadiums are just a few of the specialty sites on the market.

Licenses and Designations for Real Estate Professionals

Generally, people working in the real estate sector need a license because they're handling other people's money and need to show they understand industry regulations. Here's the breakdown of what's required per job:

Real Estate Sales Agent

Sales agents need a license from the state in which they work. This requires them to complete several courses and pass an exam. It may also include a background check. States set continuing education requirements and renewal standards.

Real Estate Broker

Like sales agents, brokers need a license. The steps are very similar, but brokers will first probably need work experience as a sales agent, although some states waive this requirement if the broker holds a bachelor's degree.

Property, Real Estate or Community Association Manager

Managers must first have a state real estate license. If they deal with federally subsidized public housing, they must be certified. Residents of Alaska, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginias and D.C. must also hold special license or earn credentials — and maintain them for recertification — through a group such as:

  • BOMI International
    The Real Property Administrator designation is valuable for people with three years' experience in property management and can be earned by passing eight online courses. BOMI also facilitates more specialized designations that may be of interest.

  • Institute of Real Estate Management
    The Certified Property Manager designation can be earned with three years of on-the-job experience and a relevant degree or coursework offered by IREM. To become CPMs, applicants must also be IREM members, regularly attend chapter meetings and submit reference letters.

  • National Association of Residential Property Managers
    NARPM has several designations, including the Master Property Manager designation for real estate agents with five years of experience who have already achieved lower-level designations.

Real Estate Assessor

This is one of the few real estate jobs in which a license is not typically needed, although some states do require it.

Real Estate Appraiser

State certification is mandatory for appraisers who work on deals involving the federal government in any way. Such licenses are broken down into the following grades, the last three of which require passing an exam:

  • Licensed Trainee Real Property Appraiser. Most states require at least 75 hours of relevant education to earn this license.
  • Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. Typically requires 30 hours of college credit, 150 hours of appraiser-specific education and 1,000 hours of recent training. This credential allows its holder to appraise one-to-four unit homes and apartments.
  • Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser. To appraise properties worth more than $250,000, candidates must gain this certification by earning a bachelor's degree or having proper requisite experience, taking 200 hours of appraiser education, and logging 1,500 hours on the job.
  • Certified General Real Property Appraiser. The ultimate credential earned with a baccalaureate requires 300 hours of appraiser education and 3,000 hours of recent work experience.

Where Real Estate Pros Work

One of the most-often used tools for real estate professionals is a car — that's because they're often either going to or leaving a property. When they're not onsite, however, where are they?

Job Boards for Real Estate Job Seekers

According to a 2018 report by the National Association of Realtors, the average value of homes sold directly by owner is $80,000 less than if it were sold by an agent. This means the overwhelming majority of sellers are using real estate agents. Meanwhile, a separate report by Deloitte found that some $119 billion worth of commercial real estate changed hands in the second quarter of 2019 alone!. All this means there are clearly opportunities in the real estate industry. To find jobs, use some of the following job sites specific to the sector.

  • American Real Estate Society
    ARES promotes the teaching of real estate as an academic discipline. In keeping with its mission, it maintains a job board for faculty teaching and research positions in real estate.
  • Appraisal Institute
    Appraisers who become members of the Appraisal Institute become easily findable by people looking for appraisers, with their name and business details added to the group's searchable directory.
  • iHireRealEstate
    Candidates can upload a resume to quickly apply for jobs posted to this site. Positions are grouped by title, city or state.
  • Institute of Real Estate Management
    Specific to real estate managers, IREM's job board lacks the volume of other real estate job boards, but more than makes up for it in the relevance of its posts.
  • Select Leaders
    Select Leaders' job network powers many of the professional associations' job boards. Post a resume to begin applying to jobs on its site and sign up for job alerts to maximize the chances of getting hired.

Real Estate Internships

Colleges with real estate programs typically offer and/or require students to do internships. Students are best served by using the department's placement program, which has working relationships with area (and sometimes national or even international) employers. Go-getters, however, are welcome to find their own internships, and a few of the more prominent ones are listed below.

Allianz Real Estate Internship

Location: Munich or national office
Allianz has an international portfolio and requires English speakers interested in real estate to fill its ranks for at least three months (and often up to two years). Plenty of programs are available for current undergraduates or those about to embark on a higher degree. Many interns end up working for the company afterward.

Brixmor Real Estate Internship

Location: Corporate office in New York or one of Brixmor's regional offices
Brixmor owns shopping centers across the country, and interns get to spend the summer in one department, learning how commercial real estate works before heading back to college.

Disney Real Estate Controls Intern, Corporate

Location: Burbank, CA
Undergrads and recent graduates with a background in real estate finance or real estate development are ideal for this position, which requires financial management and working with data sets.

Edens Summer Internship Program

Location: Boston, New York, D.C., Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami or Houston
Undergrads and MBA students interested in retail real estate can spend the summer in a paid internship at an Edens regional office in one of six departments: marketing, development, investments, construction, leasing or finance. Interns will, among other duties, attend weekly meetings with department heads.

HFF Internship Program

Location: Corporate or regional offices
Interns will visit commercial sites and research the market as they prepare to lease or sell properties. A strong financial or business background is a plus.

State Farm Investment Intern - Mortgages and Real Estate

Location: Bloomington, IL
Interns at this 10-week paid internship will look at real estate as investments as part of customers' retirement funds. The ideal candidate is a junior in college with coursework in finance

Professional Associations for Real Estate Pros

In many industries, including real estate, joining a professional association can provide valuable networking opportunities. But more importantly in real estate, membership can open up access to new clients and properties. Below are a few organizations to consider joining, depending on your focus:

  • American Society of Appraisers
    To become ASA members, appraisers must first pass an ethics exam and a 15-hour course on appraisal standards. Once accredited, members join a referral network, can use the organization's job bank, and receive discounts on conferences and insurance.

  • American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
    ASFMRA members are highly specialized, understanding land value for farms, vineyards, rural estates, tree farms, and conservation easements.

  • Commercial Real Estate Development Association
    NAIOP, which takes its acronym from its former name, the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, is the main commercial real estate industry association. It facilitates networking events, pushes for legislation that serves its members' interests, provides continuing education, and conducts research.

  • CREW Network
    This organization caters to women in commercial real estate. It has chapters in 33 states, plus Washington, D.C. The organization funds scholarships, facilitates a mentoring program, and runs a job board.

  • National Association of Real Estate Brokers
    NAREB advocates for fair housing laws and equitable homeownership regulations for African Americans and other minority groups.

  • National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers
    NAREIM advertises itself as "a place to think out loud, to refine strategy, improve operations, and provoke new thinking." Membership benefits managers by furnishing them with industry insights so they can compare their companies to others.

  • National Association of REALTORS
    NAR welcomes membership from most groups in commercial and residential real estate, including appraisers, brokers and sales agents. Members get access to financial benefits, such as education discounts and specialty insurance, in addition to standard offerings such as resource materials. Membership dues go, in part, to funding advertising campaigns, but the biggest advantage of membership is the ability to put homes on the Multiple Listing Service.

  • National Association of Residential Property Managers
    NAPRM sees itself as a standard bearer for industry ethics, certifying members so property owners who hire a credentialed NRPRM professional can be certain they will have quality renters.

About the Author


The MoneyGeek editorial team has decades of combined experience in writing and publishing information about how people should manage money and credit. Our editors have worked with numerous publications including The Washington Post, The Daily Business Review, HealthDay and Time, Inc., and have won numerous journalism awards. Our talented team of contributing writers includes mortgage experts, veteran financial reporters and award-winning journalists. Learn more about the MoneyGeek team.