Real Estate & Property

Some of the first thoughts you might have about the real estate industry likely involve showing people around houses or apartments as they look for their new home, but it stretches way beyond the residential market!

The real estate and property industry play a significant role in the American economy. According to federal statistics, the industry contributed more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2020, employed more than two million people, and generated more than $10 billion in profit.

When you explore the industry in more detail, you’ll discover core segments and multiple career pathways within those segments.

Some of the key ones to consider include:

  • Residential Properties
  • Industrial Properties
  • Office & Business Properties
  • Hotel & Leisure Properties
  • Retail & Warehousing Properties
  • Niche & Specialised Properties

Aside from property management, there are several other sectors that  exist to help structure and support the industry more broadly. These include:

  • Professional Services, such as pest control, trades maintenance, and engineering
  • Architectural Design
  • Auctioneering
  • Surveyancy
  • Property Law

Every segment requires a comprehensive understanding of property and a solid knowledge of the laws and legislations that apply across real estate.

Regardless of sector, real estate and property agents are responsible for acting legally on behalf of their clients and ensuring that everything meets legal and legislative requirements.

Careers across real estate and property can be highly rewarding and lucrative, but it is also a very competitive field.

Whether meeting with potential clients, conducting open houses, or negotiating with buyers and sellers, agents in all parts of the industry are required to engage and impress people consistently.

The ability to develop solid relationships and build a reputation for being knowledgeable, efficient, and trustworthy will go a long way for those wanting to build a successful career.

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to get started with a real estate and property career!

What You Could Do

Job roles in the industry are varied, with many opportunities to grow a career through entry-level positions and gain industry-accredited qualifications as you grow professionally.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Residential Sales Agent: Residential sales agents help clients source and purchase residential properties. Clients are usually individuals, couples or families, looking to buy a home for personal living. They need to have strong knowledge of the process and legalities in purchasing residential properties to provide their clients with the best advice and guidance. To source properties that meet clients ‘ needs, they also need strong local knowledge (such as access to schools, commutes, and crime rates).
  • Commercial Sales Agent: Commercial sales agents have a similar role as residential agents, focusing on commercial properties such as office buildings, retail, or industrial properties. They take on
    client needs and source properties that best match. Other duties include conducting visits to properties with clients, promoting services, handling negotiations, contracts and ensuring the process of purchasing is as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
  • Property Auctioneer: Property auctioneers are responsible for selling various properties by taking offers from buyers and accepting the highest purchase price. You can work as a property auctioneer without formal qualifications. However, you’ll need excellent real estate knowledge and customer service skills, so qualifications in real estate practice, property service, and business may be helpful. 
  • Property Manager: Property managers are usually responsible for a portfolio of properties they look after on behalf of clients. These might be residential rentals or commercial building leases. In addition, they oversee business operations of properties and commercial entities, including advertising, collecting rent, screening tenants, and organizing maintenance or repairs.
  • Business Broker: Business brokers play a vital role in helping clients determine whether the property they want to purchase is right for them. They assess potential buyers’ needs, locate businesses for consideration, and offer valuations and advice for buying and selling businesses and/or properties. They may arrange finance, land brokerage, conveyancing, and maintenance of business premises.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

Each industry segment will also include administrative and other support functions, including marketing, communications, human resources, business administration, and accounting.

Graduate Outcomes & Gender Split

A degree isn’t essential for every career pathway in the sector, but pursuing a degree can help you gain the knowledge and theory you’ll need to get started.

Some universities offer degrees in Real Estate & Property Management that teach students to oversee residential, commercial, or industrial real estate. Many professionals in the sector hold business administration or business management degrees that provide a solid foundation of knowledge from which to build professionally in the industry.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors. Here’s a look at recent outcomes data for graduates in 2019:

  • Business Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services Graduates in full-time employment: 68.9%
  • Business Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services Graduates in employment overall: 89%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates who may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within, but it’s relatively evenly split across the industry:

  • Males: 51%
  • Females: 49%


Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Entry-level Real Estate Roles: $57-$67,500
  • Senior Real Estate Agent Roles: $75-$101,000
  • Entry-level Property Manager Roles: $41,800-$59,000
  • Senior Property Manager Roles: $68-$85,000
  • Property Auctioneer Roles: $59-$62,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The commission percentage you receive for sales
  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were 1.72M people employed across the real estate industry in 2019. This figure has been growing at a steady rate of 2.17%, from 2.19 million people in 2016 and 2.24 million people in 2017.

Prior to 2020, the real estate and property industry showed signs of strong growth. As with many industries, the impact of COVID-19 has paused the momentum of growth for the time being as disruptions to the economy and workforce overall are felt.

In particular, the commercial real estate market has been adversely affected amid a slowdown in business activity, social-distancing measures, and work-from-home arrangements.

The real estate industry does have a lower projected workforce growth at 0.6% between now and 2024, but the national workforce is still projected to grow 6.89% in the next ten years.

It’s anticipated that as we emerge from the pandemic and organizations rethink the ways the teams work – both from home and office spaces – there will be an adjustment within the commercial segment of the industry.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.

You’ll need a high school diploma, or equivalent as a minimum, and then there are four key steps to getting started in the industry:

  1. Take a state-approved real estate sales course: These courses teach you about real estate legal issues, finance, insurance, taxes, and ethics. You need to be sure that your state licensing board approves the course you take to qualify for your license.
  2. Pass your state’s real estate agent licensing exam: The exam covers subjects like closing a deal, negotiations, real estate law, and working with clients. Each state uses a different exam, so check with your state’s real estate licensing board to check the requirements.
  3. Work as a real estate agent: Roles as a real estate agent are the first step into the industry before you can progress. Two to five years of experience is usually needed to develop your skills, experience, and knowledge before you can move up. It also gives you the chance to build your professional network and reputation within the industry.
  4. Gain specialist qualifications: There are several specialist qualifications you can gain while working in the industry to support your career growth, and you gain some experience and know which area of the industry you want to work in.

Further requirements and qualifications will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

You can find out more and requirements by state on the National Association of Realtor’s website.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

A handful of universities offer dedicated degrees in Real Estate:

  • University of St. Thomas
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • University of North Texas

Many professionals in the industry choose to study business management/administration to launch their careers in real estate.

Some of the top-rated universities for Business Management include:

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Yale University
  • The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • New York University (NYU)

Where to Learn more

You can learn more about different real estate and property pathways through professional bodies and organizations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organizations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.