5 Real Estate Career Pathway Options

A top Real Estate career pathway with a master’s degree can lead to a lucrative career in management, development, or investment. Here are 5 career paths for a master’s in real estate graduate.

A master’s in real estate can help a student achieve their dream of a high-ranking real estate career. Even when not strictly required, these degrees allow for higher-paying, more prestigious jobs and open doors at some of the largest real estate development companies. Here are five career paths students graduating with a master’s degree in real estate may choose to pursue.

What is Real Estate?

Real Estate is probably one of the most misunderstood industries in the US. Strangely, it is also one of the most utilized. Almost all Americans buy, sell, or lease real estate during their life. So, why is it such a confusing market?

One of the main reasons real estate is dismaying is the legislation surrounding it. The sale of real property is mainly regulated on a state basis. Because each state has different laws, individuals must be familiar with and licensed in their state. For example, the process for purchasing a home in California is not the same as in Alabama.

However, the financial and management practices used in real estate are universal. So, a master’s degree or MBA is excellent training to work in the most lucrative aspects of real estate. When you combine a master’s degree with the localized expertise of a real estate license, there are many career paths.

Best Careers Paths With A Real Estate Master’s Degree

What are the different real estate career paths? There are many different kinds of real estate jobs in the real estate industry. Below are some of the best real estate careers!

  1. Real Estate Agent
  2. Property Management
  3. Real Estate Asset Management
  4. Real Estate Investment
  5. Real Estate Development

1. Real Estate Agent or Broker

Real Estate Agent or Broker

Real estate agents and brokers facilitate the buying and selling of commercial and residential property. To become an agent or real estate broker, individuals need a real estate license from the state where they practice.

These real estate professionals work as agents for others in real property transactions. While the other career paths on our list may overlap with agents, this category is most often used to refer to residential real estate agents. They help customers buy and sell the perfect home.

Real property is land, and any improvements attached to it, like buildings, fences, landscaping, driveways, sewers, or drains. Personal property includes automobiles, money, furniture, cattle, and jewelry. It is all other property that is not real property.

Real Estate Agent

An agent with a state license typically helps buyers or sellers purchase or sell a property. The two general types of agents are residential and commercial real estate agents. A residential real estate agent works on transactions for homes. Commercial real estate agents work with industrial, office, and retail properties.

You can further describe an agent by who hires them. Both types of agents can also be a buyers agent, sellers agent, or dual agent. Descriptions may vary by state.

Real Estate Broker

A broker is a real estate agent and has a license. In some states, the term real estate brokerage is used to differentiate between the senior agent and the junior agent or salesperson.

Salesperson or Sales Agent

In some states, this is a real estate agent with a license. They often work under a senior broker with more experience.


A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who has joined the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This is a trade organization, and members pay annual dues. In most areas, the dues fund the local MLS or multiple listing services. Member must adhere to the NAR additional standards. This is the case for both commercial agents and residential agents.

Transaction Specialist or Coordinator

A Transaction Coordinator assists an agent with organizing files for real estate transactions. Sometimes these professionals are called Real Estate Assistants. They gather information and paperwork needed per the contract’s terms to facilitate a smooth and on-time closing. Most real estate transaction professionals do not need a state license, but it is often preferred.

2. Property Management

Property Management

Property managers do not generally need a master’s degree. However, this career is still an option and can be very rewarding. They manage properties on behalf of corporations, private owners, and community organizations. Some tasks they are responsible for include selecting tenants, collecting rent, completing required maintenance, managing an association’s finances, and more.

Property managers in many states are differentiated by residential and commercial. Those that manage residential properties usually wear many hats. They manage the physical property and are also in charge of the finances. A commercial property manager, however, may focus on managing the building, leasing, or accounting. So, in commercial management, the jobs tend to differentiate even more. And in most states, the licensing requirements and management contracts are different for residential and commercial.

Most managers only need a high school diploma to work as residential managers. But a typical commercial manager often has a bachelor’s degree or higher. According to Monster, a master’s degree in real estate is similar to an MBA, and business knowledge benefits property managers. An advanced degree may command a higher salary in this career.

Job: Residential Property Manager

These professionals manage residential rental properties for the property owner. The residential property manager may also be the leasing agent in some states.

Annual Salary: $44,837 (Indeed)

Job: Commercial Property Manager

Commercial properties are office buildings and retail shopping spaces where businesses operate. Commercial property managers maintain the property, produce the highest financial return, and protect the investment for its owners.

Annual Salary: $70,065 (Indeed)

3. Real Estate Asset Management

Real Estate Asset Management

This career is a good fit for students more interested in the financial side of real estate. Real estate asset managers do not manage the day-to-day needs of a property but are instead concerned about increasing a property’s value from an investment standpoint.

An asset manager is often a step above a commercial property manager. These professionals usually have a portfolio of properties and work with clients, fund managers, and property managers to achieve the highest return on investment. An asset manager creates and manages budgets and mitigates the client’s risk exposure.

They typically work for a larger company or organization instead of individual property owners and assist their clients in diversifying portfolios to get the most out of their property investments. This real estate professional may not need a real estate license. But, licensed managers can negotiate leases and handle acquisitions and sales.

Job: Real Estate Asset Manager

A real estate asset manager helps clients find and purchase properties that meet their financial goals. Asset managers must understand zoning laws, neighborhood demographics, and taxes. Typical duties include conducting research, locating properties, negotiating sales, and monitoring investments to track performance.

Annual Salary: $99,788 (Ziprecruiter)

4. Real Estate Investment

Real Estate Investment

A master’s in real estate, business, or finance prepares students to be successful real estate investors. There is a lot of money to be made in real estate investment. Advanced education in real estate can provide potential investors with more real estate industry insight and knowledge.

Real estate investors can work for themselves. So, this is a great career option for entrepreneurs. Investors usually buy properties that need to perform below market value, fix them up, and either rent them out or resell them for profit. Successful investors also need strong real estate market knowledge.

Job: Real Estate Investor

A real estate investor buys and sells properties. Some individual investors work alone, and others work with a partner. Those with knowledge and experience may work for a company. Companies often have real estate investing portfolios with multiple properties.

Annual Salary: $119,731 (Ziprecruiter)

5. Real Estate Development

Real Estate Development
Businesswoman at Construction Site

Another career option is that of a real estate developer. Developers plan and build real estate projects. These projects can be commercial or residential. Developers can also specialize in different real estate types, such as condominium complexes or planned single-family home communities. A developer can be an individual or a business.

A real estate developer often manages all aspects the financing, building, marketing, and management. So, real estate developers must be able to work with clients to ensure work is on time, within budget, and to the client’s standards. These professionals need to understand development regulations and also know real estate law.

Job: Real Estate Developer

A real estate developer oversees a construction or building project. They manage all contractors and subcontractors building or renovating homes, industrial sites, offices, or retail centers. Some projects convert vacant land or buildings.

Annual Salary: $132,866 (Glassdoor)

What Are Some Jobs Related to Real Estate?

There are also quite a few jobs interconnected with the real estate industry. These real estate career path jobs do not require a real estate license. However, some require a license from another regulatory body.

Real Estate Appraiser

Appraisers determine the value of a property. To be an appraiser, you need to know how to compare a property to other similar properties and determine value based on characteristics and location.

An appraiser must have an appraiser’s license. Many have a background in Economics or Finance before applying for a license. Appraisers tend to specialize in residential or commercial. A commercial valuation can be incredibly complicated, and these appraisers tend to have more education and earn a higher salary.

Job: Residential Real Estate Appraiser

Annual Salary: $54,665 (Salary.com)

Job: Commercial Real Estate Appraiser

Annual Salary: $102,795 (Salary.com)

Real Estate Marketing Specialists

A great real estate marketing specialist can help agents and Brokers develop their unique brands. Any advantage can make a massive impact and help generate new leads, so these specialists usually have plenty of work on their plate. So, if you don’t want to be client-facing, this could be your real estate career path.

A real estate marketing specialist develops marketing plans for an agent or agency. Many also manage social media channels, create print and digital content, and handle email campaigns. While these individuals do not need a license, they need an in-depth understanding of marketing and advertising regulations in real estate.

Job: Real Estate Marketing Specialist

Average Annual Salary: $49,960 (Ziprecruiter)

Real Estate Loan Officer

Loan officers typically work for mortgage lenders and banks. These mortgage brokers handle the financial side of obtaining a mortgage and help decide who their institution will or won’t loan money. 

A mortgage broker, loan officer, or mortgage loan originator may also partner with real estate agents and offices to provide financing to clients. They assist prospective buyers in sorting out loan options and completing mortgage applications, then examine the financial information to determine how risky it would be to lend the money. Real estate loan officers must register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System.

Job: Real Estate Loan Officer

Annual Salary: $85,7330 (Ziprecruiter)

Real Estate Attorney

Real estate attorneys help clients with the legal part of a sales transaction.

Additionally, many attorneys specialize in commercial or residential properties.

Job: Real Estate Attorney

Annual Salary: $149,853 (Salary)

Real Estate Schools

The curriculum for these schools is for state-based real estate licensing. Before you attend a real estate school, ensure it has approval from your state’s regulatory body. You can only apply for a license if you attend an approved school.

  • Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)
  • State List of Real Estate Regulatory Agencies (here)
  • International Distance Education Certification Center (IDECC)

Types of Classes and Education

Most real estate schools have three types of classes – pre-license, post-license, and continuing education. 

Pre Licensing Classes

These are the first classes you take in real estate school that give you an overview of the profession. The real estate courses cover real estate laws, contracts, and the duties of agents.

Post Licensing Classes

After you take your licensing exam and get a license, there are usually additional classes licensees must take. In addition, many states have provisional licenses for real estate brokers until they complete a certain number of hours.

Continuing Education Courses(CE)

Most states require all agents to take continuing education classes each year. These classes help agents stay updated on the changes to procedures, contracts, and laws. They also usually have a portion dedicated to something many agents need to relearn.

Online Real Estate Schools

Online schools offer courses for current and aspiring real estate agents and brokers in different states. These schools provide convenient classes, and students can access coursework anytime. In addition to classes, many offer information on licensing, real estate tips, and other industry resources. 

5 Best Online Real Estate Schools 

  • Kaplan
  • The CE Shop
  • Real Estate Express
  • Aceable
  • RealEstateU

Your Career in Real Estate

Many careers in real estate can be highly rewarding and extremely lucrative. It is worth it to consider a formal education in real estate. A master’s in real estate can open the door to an excellent real estate career.