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7 Different Types of Jobs in Real Estate (Career Opportunities)

Property manager with shake hands in a real estate deal.

Real estate is an exciting and dynamic field with endless possibilities. Everyone needs a place to live and, therefore, there will always be plenty of job opportunities within the real estate industry. Here is a look at some of the most common jobs in real estate. 

1. Real Estate Agent/Broker

Real estate agent broker showing contract for buying house agreement.

Perhaps the most common real estate-related job is a real estate agent. Real estate agents can either work in the residential sector, helping clients find homes or rent apartments, or they can work in the commercial sector helping business owners and investors find space to buy or lease. Most agents work under the umbrella of an established brokerage until they have enough experience to start a firm of their own and train other agents. 

  • Education: One of the perks of becoming a real estate agent is that it doesn’t require much formal schooling. In some states, you must have a high school diploma or GED, while in others, anyone over the age of 18 is permitted to apply. Applicants must fulfill the state-approved educational component and pass a test to become licensed – but you don’t need a four-year degree.

Each state has different requirements, but the coursework is usually under 100 hours. Once you complete the coursework and pass the exam, all you have to do is find a brokerage to sponsor you and you’re ready to start working.

  • Earnings: Real estate agent is a commission-based job, which means that earnings vary greatly depending on the location and the individual. The median income for real estate agents in the US was $49,040 in 2020, with the top 75% earning $76,720 and the bottom 25% earning $33,370. As a real estate agent, you can set your own schedule -which means some agents work 80+ hour weeks, while others only do it part-time to make extra income.

Also, where you are located, and the relative cost of properties will have a major impact on your earning potential. For instance, one condo in New York may have a higher commission than the sale of five homes in Arkansas. So, when it comes to earnings, the sky is the limit, but you’ll still have to hustle to make things happen.

  • Location: Real estate agents are needed anywhere there is property being bought and sold. Certain cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles tend to attract more agents because commissions are higher. But you can make a good living as a real estate agent almost anywhere. 
  • Responsibilities: Being a real estate agent comes with a variety of responsibilities. Agents are tasked with marketing properties, finding qualified buyers or tenants, inputting listings into the MLS, educating clients on the sales/leasing process, providing comps, assisting in the closing, and fielding any interfacing with other agents and decision-makers to make the process as smooth as possible. Some agents take on all of these responsibilities while others take on a select few.

Exact responsibilities will vary depending on the type of property and the experience level of the agent. But, in general, real estate agents are responsible for making sure that the buying/selling/leasing process is as smooth as possible for their clients.

  • Career Potential: Being a real estate agent offers unlimited earning potential. Agents can continue to level up in terms of the types of listings they seek out, as well as their position within a brokerage. For instance, many agents start out leasing apartments and then move up to selling homes or commercial listings. Likewise, some agents stay at the same brokerage while others choose to advance to larger firms or even start their own.

Plus, many agents also use their experience to get involved in investing or development and increase their earning potential. So, becoming a real estate agent is a lucrative field with plenty of opportunities to advance.

2. Property Manager

Property manager discussing with painter.

A property manager is someone who takes on the day-to-day responsibilities of running and managing a building on behalf of the landlord. Here is a look at some of the requirements and responsibilities of a property manager.

  • Education: Just like a real estate agent, property managers are not required to have a four-year degree. Some choose to study real estate or general business administration, but it’s not required. In some states, property managers must obtain a broker’s license if they wish to engage in brokerage activities (such as leasing apartments and collecting rent).

But beyond that, all a property manager needs is a high school diploma or GED.

  • Earnings: The average salary for a property manager is around $51,000 per year, but this can vary greatly depending on their location and the size of the portfolio they manage. Some property managers are individuals who focus on just one or two buildings. Others are large companies that may manage several commercial or multi-family properties.

So, some property managers make well over 6 figures while others are real estate agents or investors and just do it to make some extra cash on the side.

  • Location: Property managers can be found anywhere that there is property to manage. They tend to be more in demand in densely populated urban areas where there is more need for their services. But you can find work as a property manager almost anywhere. 
  • Responsibilities: Property managers perform the day-to-day tasks required to keep a property running. This includes performing or scheduling maintenance, collecting rent, responding to tenant requests, leasing apartments, landscaping, keeping track of vacancies, and a variety of other necessary tasks.
  • Career Potential: There is plenty of opportunity for career advancement as a property manager. You can scale your portfolio to include more properties and charge more for your services. Or you can use the job as a gateway to learn about other aspects of real estate, such as investing or development.

3. Mortgage Broker

Couple discussing with mortgage broker.

A mortgage broker is a third party who connects an interested borrower with a lender offering the best loan product for their situation. Here are some of the requirements and responsibilities of a mortgage broker. 

  • Education: Like many jobs in the real estate field, you do not need a bachelor’s or associate degree to become a mortgage broker. However, you must be licensed and fulfill the necessary pre-licensing educational requirement, which is typically 20 hours of coursework. But some experience within the financial or real estate industry is typically recommended. 
  • Earnings: Mortgage brokers are paid on commission, earning about 1-2% of each loan that they help facilitate. This means that the average mortgage broker’s salary varies greatly depending on the median home value in the area and how many deals you close per month. But according to PayScale, the average mortgage broker salary is around $58,300 per year.
  • Location: Mortgage brokers can find work almost anywhere. They must live and work in the state where they are licensed, but with today’s technology, most of their responsibilities can be handled online or over the phone. So, as long as the broker has knowledge of the local market, they can usually work from anywhere.
  • Responsibilities: Mortgage brokers act as an intermediary between the lender and the borrower. So their primary responsibilities include marketing their services, educating clients, negotiating with lenders, networking with financial institutions and realtors, and helping clients complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Career Potential: There is plenty of opportunity for career advancement as a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers can either work within a firm or work as independent contractors. So, depending on the situation, you may be able to advance within a firm or expand to build your own firm and get involved in other aspects of the real estate business.

4. Appraiser

Home appraiser with his calculator on a blurred background.

An appraiser is someone who assesses the value of a property on behalf of a lender and borrower. Here are some of the requirements and responsibilities of an appraiser.

  • Education: Every state has different requirements for becoming an appraiser, but most require that applicants have at least an associate’s degree or higher in real estate or some related field. Appraisers must also become certified with the state, which requires a certain number of qualifying educational courses as well as a certain number of hours of on-the-job training.
  • Earnings: Appraisers charge a fee for their services, which is typically paid by the buyer at closing. So, an appraiser’s earnings will vary greatly depending on their level of experience and licensing. It may take several months or years to earn the experience to become fully certified, during which time appraisal trainees make substantially less.

But once you are fully certified, you can often earn a comfortable salary. The average salary for a real estate appraiser is around $60,000 per year.

  • Location: Appraisers must live in the territory they cover or be willing to travel. But there is a need for experienced appraisers anywhere there is property. So, while there may be higher demand and larger fees to be earned in major metropolitan areas, you don’t necessarily have to move to a big city to work as an appraiser.
  • Responsibilities: Appraisers are responsible for conducting an official valuation of a property based on its condition and the current market trends. So, they are tasked with visiting properties, inspecting the interior and exterior, staying up to date with market trends, writing reports, adhering to local laws, and compiling an accurate valuation based on all this data.
  • Career Potential: Appraisers have the opportunity to earn more certifications, which allows them to analyze different properties and earn more money. They also have the opportunity to use their knowledge to branch into other aspects of the real estate industry, such as investing or development.

5. Inspector

Inspector at construction site.

A real estate inspector is someone tasked with examining the property on behalf of a buyer or lender and determining whether or not there are any structural problems that need to be addressed. Here is a look at the requirements and responsibilities of a home inspector.

  • Education: Unlike an appraiser, an inspector is not required to have a 2- or 4-year degree -but they must have a high school diploma or GED and become certified. To obtain certification, applicants must complete a set amount of classroom education, obtain a certain amount of field training and pass an exam. The exact requirements vary from state to state.
  • Earnings: Like appraisers, home inspectors pay a fee for their services, which can vary depending on the location and their level of experience. According to the BLS, the median pay for home inspectors in 2021 was $61,640, with most inspectors earning just under $30 per hour.
  • Location: Home inspectors are in high demand almost anywhere, although they must live near the area where they work or be willing to travel. Home inspectors will find the most opportunity in areas where there is a strong demand for housing, which could be an urban or suburban environment.
  • Responsibilities: Home inspectors are tasked with making sure the condition of the property is up to code and safe for residents to live in. This means staying up to date with local building codes, inspecting important features such as the roof, plumbing, HVAC, security systems, plumbing, and electrical systems, and compiling official reports to present to the buyer and any other interested parties.
  • Career Potential: Home inspectors can either work for an established home inspection company or start their own business. So, inspectors have the opportunity to either advance and work on more complex properties or focus on growing their own company. 

6. Developer

City civil planning and real estate development.

A developer is an individual or group responsible for the planning and execution of a real estate project, which includes overseeing the entire process from financing to sales or leasing. Here is a look at the requirements and responsibilities of a developer.

  • Education: Most real estate developers have a bachelor’s degree in either real estate, finance, business, or engineering. Some even have a real estate license as well. While there are no formal requirements set by the state to become a developer, if you want to build a solid team and convince others to invest in your project, you’ll have to prove you have the requisite knowledge and experience.
  • Earnings: Real estate developers have the potential to earn a lot of money, but it varies depending on the circumstances of the deal. For instance, some developers use their own capital to finance a project, while others simply pool capital from other investors and charge a percentage to orchestrate the deal. So, the more equity you have in the project, the greater the earning potential.

The average salary of a commercial real estate developer is around $86,389 per year, but this number can vary greatly depending on location and experience level of the developer. 

  • Location: Real estate developers tend to congregate in large urban areas where there is more need for large, complex development projects. But developers can be found all over the country, anywhere there is a need for property. They may live in the areas where they work or they may have properties all over the US and outsource much of the direct labor.

There is always a need for savvy developers, but to be successful you need in-depth knowledge of the markets you’re working in. 

  • Responsibilities: Real estate developers find raw land or distressed properties, renovate or develop them from scratch and then sell them for a profit. It’s a fairly broad term that encompasses many responsibilities such as acquiring land, obtaining financing, planning the project, budgeting, acquiring permits, managing labor, and selling the property, or staying on as a property manager.
  • Career Potential: Real estate developers can either work for an established firm or start their own. Large real estate development companies have big teams of people that each handle specific aspects of the development, while independent developers may take on everything themselves and hire contractors or employees for certain tasks. So there is plenty of potential to move up the ranks at an established firm or expand your own business, depending on your career goals.

7. Investor/Wholesaler

Real estate investors in a dark ambiance.

An investor is someone who finances a real estate project and either manages the investment or hires others to manage it on their behalf. There are a variety of different investment techniques that investors employ, including rental property investing, fix and flips, commercial investing, and more. Wholesalers are a particular type of investor who doesn’t actually finance the property but brings deals to an investor in exchange for a commission.

Here are the requirements and responsibilities of a real estate investor. 

  • Education: There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a real estate investor -all you need is capital or a lender who is willing to finance your project. But many investors have some sort of background in real estate before entering the field.
  • Earnings: Real estate investors have a high earning potential, but it can vary from person to person. There are full-time real estate investors and there are those who have other full-time jobs and invest to earn additional income. There are also investors who work independently and those who work for established investment firms.

So, your earning potential is based on the types of deals you work on and how much time you are able to commit. But according to most outlets, the average real estate investor’s salary ranges from $70,000 to $124,000 per year.

  • Location: Real estate investors can live or work anywhere. Most tend to live in or near the area where they are investing. But others may have a portfolio all over the country (or world) and employ local property managers and contractors to do the hands-on work. Investors must do their due diligence to be successful, but there is an opportunity to make money anywhere there is property.  
  • Responsibilities: Investors are responsible for supplying the funds to finance a real estate deal or leveraging their credit to finance it through a lender. Their duties include analyzing statistics and demographic data to find deals, obtaining financing, doing their due diligence, interfacing with realtors, contractors, mortgage brokers, and other real estate professionals, and overseeing the project from start to finish. Some are more hands-on with the work, while other are primarily responsible for the financing and making sure that the deal is profitable.  
  • Career Potential: There is unlimited potential for career advancement for real estate investors. Investors can start small with single-family homes and work their way up to large commercial developments. They can also start locally and eventually expand their portfolio all over the country.

Just like developers, some investors work independently, while others work at established financial firms. So, there is always the potential to expand your own business or work your way up the corporate ladder as you gain experience.