The variety of options in the real estate industry enables you to mold your career to your choosing. You can elect to:
- work for a firm or work independently,
- have more flexibility or more structure,
- have higher stakes or lower, and
- work on commission or a set salary.
Many of the roles listed below work for both residential and commercial transactions. They can vary in position titles, but show how you can work in different capacities within the industry.
Real Estate Agent
A career as a real estate agent is naturally the first one that pops into everyone's mind when they think about working in this industry. Residential and commercial real estate agents are common paths to pursue. Agents help buy or sell properties, which means they need to have excellent customer service, networking and marketing skills.
Real Estate Broker
Another typical real estate career is that of a real estate broker. Commonly mistaken for real estate agents because of their similar tasks, brokers require more education and a higher-level license. Therefore, they're considered highly-skilled and qualified professionals in their field.
The advantages of a career as a broker is the autonomy to work for yourself or hire agents to work for you. A formal business education comes in handy if you're seeking to open up your brokerage or hoping to manage a group of agents.
Real Estate Appraiser
Appraisers are licensed professionals who determine a property's value. They appraise homes before they're sold or mortgaged, or assess their worth for tax purposes. You'll need to know how the value of a property is affected by its location and characteristics, and compare them to the other similar properties.
Aside from the licensing exam, having a strong educational background and industry knowledge is vital for your day-to-day tasks.
Real Estate Consultant
Another career path is that of a real estate consultant. Their job is to provide people or businesses with advice on real estate purchases. It seems simple, but the amount of knowledge needed to complete the task is more than enough to entice someone to seek out a graduate-level education.
You will need to have extensive knowledge of all things that involve the purchase or sale of a property. Consultants provide research and analysis to their clients, educating them on the current market and trends. Consultants are in high demand because of the amount of information they provide.
Another accessible career path is property management. The tasks for a property manager can vary greatly: selecting tenants, negotiating leases, listing properties, collecting rent, scheduling maintenance or managing finances. Whatever is needed to make sure your property runs smoothly, your customers are happy, and the property is making money.
Business knowledge and interpersonal skills are valuable to anyone pursuing this route. To become a property manager, you also need a license — all great reasons to pursue a graduate education.
Acquisitions analysts are responsible for analyzing new potential investments for real estate firms. They use sophisticated models to evaluate new opportunities, conduct market research, negotiate and present this information to investment committees, among other tasks. A significant component of this role is using Excel and ARGUS models to analyze investments, requiring advanced real estate education.
Asset managers work to maximize a property's value and investment returns. A majority of the role is doing market research, data analysis and revenue forecasting. This role also entails reducing expenditures, finding sources of revenue and mitigating liabilities and risks.
Working in the leasing segment of the industry could mean being a leasing agent or consultant. The names are used interchangeably but could serve their clients differently depending on where they work.
In leasing, the job is essentially to match tenants to their perfect building. They help with a range of tasks, including viewings of properties, lease terms, applications and lease renewals. There is a substantial amount of marketing, negotiating and customer service involved.
Professionals with a finance background often enter the real estate industry as mortgage brokers. Mortgage brokers are the middlemen between clients and potential lenders. They analyze mortgage loans from several banks and advise clients on loan availability, qualification requirements, interest rates and terms to determine your best option.
They are licensed professionals who do the majority of the grunt work for buyers in a short time frame. After choosing a lender, they continue working with the banks and your agents until the closing day to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Real Estate Loan Officer
Similar to a mortgage broker, a real estate loan officer helps clients with obtaining a loan to buy a property. The difference is that a loan officer works for a lender. Since there is no intermediary, there is quicker turnaround time.
Real Estate Investor
Earning a master's in real estate is a great way to prepare to become a real estate investor. Investment projects have the potential of making or losing large sums of money. The amount of industry and market knowledge to be successful in this risky segment of the industry requires advanced education.
Beyond just buying property and selling at a profit, you need to understand when and where to buy, which investment strategies to pursue, and which types of real estate you want to work with (commercial or residential property). Knowing how to analyze profitability and maximizing it will be a key component of a master's in real estate program.
Real Estate Developer
Developers are known to have degrees in civil engineering, architecture, urban planning or real estate. Developers help plan and build real estate projects. Their tasks range from project management to finance and work with architects, engineers, contractors, agents and lawyers.
Having an education in real estate business not only helps you navigate market challenges and manage finances but also enables you to interact with all the stakeholders involved in your projects successfully.
Real Estate Attorney
A graduate education in real estate could be of interest to those already pursuing or interested in law. Real estate attorneys can work in different capacities: for tenant rights or provide a consultation before a major real estate purchase.
It's a long educational pathway to pursue — you'll need to earn a Juris Doctor degree and pass the bar exam. However, the return on investment is impressive. Having a strong foundation in real estate contracts and laws is a great way to prepare to pursue this career.
Type of Education Needed to Pursue a Real Estate Career
As stated previously, most of these roles require some form of licensing to practice. Proper preparation for your licensing exams is crucial, and you'll find a range of prep-style courses or classes for them.
One popular option is to earn a master’s degree in real estate. These types of graduate programs provide strong foundational knowledge of the real estate market and its different segments – all while building your management and decision-making skills.
A master's degree program goes beyond just preparing you to pass your licensing exams; it equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the business. After earning this degree, many graduates find themselves confident enough to begin pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor.
These graduate programs themselves can also supplement many of the course requirements for several designations, licenses and credentials.
For example, FIU’s Master of Science in International Real Estate (MSIRE) offers the opportunity to supplement several courses for the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) state licensing exam − saving students time and money.
The field is always evolving, and these are, by far, not the only careers to pursue. We invite you to learn more about pursuing a master’s degree in real estate and its benefits.
If you’re interested in learning about salaries for different positions within the real estate industry, you can read the latest Real Estate Compensation Survey.