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Exploring 16 Real Estate Career Paths and Their Pay Ranges


Besides being a real estate agent or a real estate broker, did you know that there are more than twenty real estate career paths you could choose? The 2021 real estate market was worth more than $43 trillion US dollars in the United States alone.

You know what that means, right? A lot of work needs to be done — both directly and indirectly.

Let’s look at the many different real estate career paths you could focus on and the average pay range for each.

Most Common Real Estate Career Paths

1. Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents, as you know, help people buy and sell a property. However, there’s a difference between a residential agent and a commercial agent.

Residential: A residential real estate agent is the person who helps people buy a home. Depending on which side of the transaction you’re on, you’ll be the listing agent (if you’re representing the seller) or the selling agent (if you’re representing the buyer).

To become a residential real estate agent, you’ll need to complete a real estate course and pass a state real estate license exam.

On average, a residential real estate agent can earn $95,602 annually.

Commercial: A commercial real estate agent facilitates transactions between businesses. To work as a commercial real estate agent, you’ll need extensive business and finance knowledge because you’ll be working with data like capitalization rates, gross rent multipliers, and internal rates of return.

To become a commercial real estate agent, you’ll need to complete a real estate course, pass a state real estate license exam, and work under a licensed real estate broker.

On average, a commercial real estate agent can earn $104,041 annually.

2. Real Estate Assistant 

A real estate assistant is someone who supports real estate agents. Assistants take care of the scheduling, answering phone calls, organizing files, and other administrative duties. Since the assistant doesn’t have a license to sell real estate, they cannot show properties, discuss details of a property, or negotiate prices.

To become a real estate assistant, you don’t have to have any experience in real estate. However, real estate brokerages usually prefer someone with experience as an administrative assistant.

On average, a real estate assistant can earn $18.01 per hour.

3. Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is someone who runs their brokerage. They hire real estate agents to work with clients to buy and sell a property. A broker usually earns a portion of their agent’s commission, and in return, the agents have office space, training, administrative support, and leads for new clientele.

To become a real estate broker, you must complete additional coursework and exams to get a broker’s license. In addition, some states require you to be a licensed real estate agent before taking the broker’s exam.

On average, a real estate broker can earn $139,673 annually.

4. Real Estate Marketing Specialist

A real estate marketing specialist helps brokerages expand their network and reach as many potential clients as possible. The marketing specialist will focus on things like search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, marketing on social media channels, and much more.

To become a real estate marketing specialist, you don’t need a specific degree or license. However, if you have a strong background in marketing, you’ll be one step closer to success.

On average, a real estate marketing specialist can earn $53,324 annually.

5. Home Inspector

A home inspector is a third party who goes to the property and inspects every inch of the property. They look at the home’s mechanical systems, structural integrity, roof, foundation, and more. They will compile  A home inspection is an integral part of the home buying process because buyers need to know the house they’re buying isn’t falling around them.

To become a home inspector, you’ll need to take a course and pass a state licensing exam.

On average, a home inspector can earn $49,369 annually, plus commission.

6. Real Estate Attorney

A real estate attorney is a broad career that covers all sorts of law practices, including (but not limited to): real estate contract disputes, property ownership or boundary disputes, and more. You can niche down even more and specialize in residential or commercial properties.

To become a real estate attorney, you will have a journey ahead of you. You’ll first need a bachelor’s degree, take the LSAT, attend law school, and pass the state bar exam. Then you’ll also need to work at a law firm or title company to gain experience and clientele.

On average, a real estate attorney can earn $155,881 annually.

7. Real Estate Appraiser

A real estate appraiser is a third party hired to inspect the property to determine its fair market value. Mortgage lenders require this because they don’t want to approve a mortgage for an overpriced property.

To become a real estate appraiser, some people will start as a real estate agent and then take a different exam to receive an appraiser’s license.

On average, a real estate appraiser can earn $75,581 annually.

8. Home Stager

A home stager will furnish and decorate a property to look its very best. According to NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Staging report, 82% of buyer’s agents said buyers could visualize themselves living in a staged home much easier than if the home was vacant. As a result, staged properties usually sell quicker and for more money than homes that weren’t staged.

To become a home stager, you don’t have to have any special licenses or degrees. However, you’ll be better off if you have a solid interior design or marketing background.

On average, a home stager can earn $46,798 annually.

9. Leasing Agent

A leasing agent doesn’t deal with buying or selling the property — they focus on renting property. Some leasing agents will work under a real estate broker, while others will work with property managers. The leasing agent must show properties, screen and approve tenants, sign leases, and so on.

To become a leasing agent, many states do not require that you be a licensed real estate agent, but it can help.

On average, a leasing agent can earn $48,753 annually.

10. Property Manager

A property manager sometimes acts as a leasing agent but often does much more. Property managers handle screening tenants and signing leases. They also collect rent, manage financial records, enforce lease terms, and work with handypersons or contractors to address maintenance issues.

To become a property manager, you may be required to have a real estate license, depending on the state you live in.

On average, a property manager can earn $51,386 annually.

11. Title Officer

A title officer reviews a property’s legal and ownership history. They verify the property’s legal description, where the property lines are, and ensure the property is free of liens or other encumbrances. A title officer must give a property the all-clear before closing can take place.

To become a title officer, you don’t need a special license or degree to become a title officer. On-the-job experience is usually enough.

On average, a title officer can earn $59,772 annually.

Real Estate Career Paths: Investing-Related

12. Landlord

When considering real estate investing, a landlord is usually the first thing that comes to mind. You buy a property and rent it out. Each state has specific landlord-tenant laws that you must understand. You can manage the property (advertise vacancies, screen tenants, sign leases, etc.) or hire a property manager for a fee.

To become a landlord, you don’t need special licensing or other qualifications. However, you must read your state’s landlord-tenant laws!

On average, a landlord can earn $68,814 annually, but many variables can increase or decrease that annual figure.

13. House Flipper

A house flipper is an investor who purchases a property (usually a derelict property that needs some TLC), fixes it up, and sells it for a profit. It might sound pretty cut and dry, but to be a successful flipper, you need to have a variety of skills like bargain hunting, have an eye for interior design, and understand how to navigate the world of permits, code enforcement, and municipal inspections.

To become a house flipper, you don’t need any license or certificate to start. Instead, an extensive network of contractors and a good plan for finding cheap properties are necessary.

On average, a house flipper can earn $74,163 annually, but as with a landlord, many factors will determine your actual income.

14. Real Estate Wholesaler

A real estate wholesaler flips real estate contracts instead of real estate properties. This means that when you find a property at a steep discount, you’ll put that property under contract. Then you’ll reach out to other investors or house flippers and offer them a deal below market value, with a little extra for yourself.

For example, if you find a property worth $100,000 and put it under contract for $70,000, you can sell it to a flipper for $80,000. So you just made yourself a $10,000 profit.

To become a real estate wholesaler, you just need to be able to find incredible deals that are too good to ignore and sell them for a profit to your network.

On average, a real estate wholesaler can earn $74,062 annually, but again, it depends on various factors l.

15. Real Estate Syndicator

A real estate syndicator looks for deals on large properties (apartment complexes, commercial buildings, etc.) and will reach out to investors to fund the deal. In addition, the syndicator will manage the property and has control over the renovations.

To become a real estate syndicator, you’ll need a real estate license and a history of completing transactions on large properties. This isn’t a career for those just starting in the industry.

On average, a real estate syndicator can earn $59,828 annually. Still, your income will ultimately be determined by how well your properties perform and the incentive structure you worked out with your network of passive investors.

16. Real Estate Developer

A real estate developer is someone who builds on (or improves) raw land. For example, they may buy up large swaths of land, divide them into smaller lots, and install hookups for water and sewer. Then they may sell those lots to homeowners who want to build a custom house, or they’ll develop the land themselves and sell the completed homes directly to buyers.

To become a real estate developer, prepare for a long road ahead. First, you need experience and degrees in civil engineering and urban planning. In addition, you’ll need to understand local permitting processes and regulations. You also need to have a lot of money on hand to buy and develop the land.

On average, a real estate developer can earn $85,012 annually, but there’s no limit on how much you can earn.

Real Estate Career Paths: Which Is Right for You?

There are so many career options in the real estate industry, and it’s understandable if you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities — this list is just the tip of the iceberg! Before settling on which real estate career paths you’re interested in, check out our careers page to learn more about career options at New Western.

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