What Real Estate Careers Require a Real Estate License?

Whether you're just getting started in real estate or you're an experienced agent wondering what you can do with a real estate license, researching different types of jobs in the real estate industry is an excellent first step to a successful new career.

We've put together a list of real estate careers, most of which are jobs that require a real estate license (or where licensed experience can help you along). 

There are so many jobs available in real estate. The real estate careers below vary widely in structure, flexibility, clientele, and education investment.  There's sure to be something for everyone!

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Alabama 60 Hour Real Estate Prelicense Basic Package

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#1: Residential Real Estate Agent Jobs

A residential real estate agent is one of the most common jobs in real estate.

You may see a few alternate titles for this type of real estate career. Associate brokers fill a similar role. Associate brokers (or broker's associates) are real estate professionals who have leveled up to a broker's license but continue to focus entirely on sales. Also, some agents and brokers use the title REALTOR® instead. It's a registered trademark indicating they're a member of the National Association of Realtors® (or NAR®).

Job Description and Specialties

Residential real estate is such a big pie that it slices many ways. Most agents find a way to niche down that allows them to build their expertise and make the most of marketing dollars.

There are two general roles you can play: a listing agent (also known as "seller's agent") and a buyer's agent.  Each has slightly different job descriptions.

A listing agent helps a seller market and show their home, consider offers, and finalize the sale. A buyer's agent finds properties that meet a client's needs.  They also facilitate showings, offers, and agreements, but they advocate for the buyer.

Residential real estate is attractive to many agents because it's flexible and allows for a part-time option. However, your hours are largely dictated by your clients' availability.  That can mean evenings and weekends.

Education, Training, and Experience

To become a residential agent, you need to earn your real estate license. The process varies from state to state, but typically includes pre-licensing courses, an examination, a background check, and sometimes post-licensing courses.

Luckily, you can take the coursework online, at your own pace

Residential Real Estate Salary

Most real estate agents work on commission, meaning you only earn as much as you sell. Income is affected by location, the number of sales, the value of the property, and your specific contract with your brokerage.

As a result, the pay that individual agents receive is all over the map, but the median national earnings for residential real estate is $48,635 a year, as of January 2021.

The way your pay is calculated can get a little complicated—check out our great guide on How Commissions Work. One of the reasons associate brokers choose to advance their license while doing the same job is that brokers typically earn larger commission splits.

#2: Commercial Real Estate Agent Jobs

Commercial real estate is higher stakes and harder to get into.

Job Description and Specialties

In commercial real estate, agents still play the role of listing agent, buyer's agent, or both.  But instead of homes, commercial agents facilitate the sale of office buildings, retail sites, and large apartment complexes.  Less common sub-specialties include industry, manufacturing, farm, or land. 

In residential real estate, your clients are individuals or families. In commercial, they're businesses or investors.

Commercial real estate brokers typically work full-time and have a more regular schedule than residential agents.

Education, Training, and Experience

In commercial real estate, the clientele expects agents to be fluent in business and finance.

So while commercial and residential agents can technically practice with the same license, commercial agents are often expected to earn a four-year degree in business, finance, or a related field.

Commercial Real Estate Salary

Have we mentioned that commercial real estate jobs are a lot more lucrative?

The same variations and complications apply to commercial pay as residential, but the average national earnings for commercial real estate is $99,995 a year, as of January 2021.

#3: Managing Broker, Designated Broker, or Broker-Owner Jobs

As we mentioned earlier, a broker is the next licensing level up from an agent, although it's worth noting that some states (like Washington) label their entry-level license as "broker." In these states, the next level is referred to as "managing broker" or something similar.

Job Description and Specialties

Unlike agents, brokers can own real estate firms (or "brokerages"), hire agents to work under them, and handle commissions and escrow accounts directly.

We talked about what it means to be an associate broker above.  But for brokers who choose to exercise the rights and responsibilities a broker's license gives them, there are a few different roles they can take on.  It's possible to be more than one at the same time or to only serve in a single role.

  • Designated Brokers are legally responsible for the transactions of all real estate agents and associate brokers underneath them.  All agents must work under the license and supervision of a broker.  The title doesn't indicate ownership of the firm or daily responsibilities, only legal liability. 
  • Managing Brokers take a hands-on responsibility in the daily operation of the brokerage.  They actively manage real estate agents and associate brokers. Managing Brokers might have the legal responsibility for their team, or they might just work for the designated broker who does.
  • Broker-Owners are designated brokers that also own the business. 

Broker-Owners can play all three roles if the business is small and they choose to be hands-on.  Large brokerages might have employees who only serve in the Designated Broker or Managing Broker role. 

In all cases, brokers can choose to actively take a sales role or stick to executive and managerial tasks alone.  That choice may impact their income.

Education, Training, and Experience

Brokers have spent time as agents, gained experience, then taken additional licensing. As with earning an entry-level real estate license, the process varies from state to state.

Before launching their own brokerage, many brokers also get a business degree or complete coursework to help them build a successful real estate business.

Real Estate Broker Salary

Though earnings vary, a designated or managing broker's income is slightly more predictable than a regular agent's because they're not earning based on individual success but the success of everyone in the brokerage. If they continue in a sales role, commissions will add to their income.

The median national earnings for a managing broker is $77,419 a year, as of January 2021.

Broker-owners earn more because they benefit from profit-sharing.

#4: Property Manager Jobs

Property managers typically operate under the same regulatory bodies as sales agents. However, a few states put property management in a category of its own.

Job Description and Specialties

Property Managers protect a property owner's investment and manage the financial return it produces. 

The most common type of property management job focuses on apartment buildings or condo developments. Managers collect rent, arrange maintenance, and handle evictions so the owners don't have to (among other things).

A commercial property manager's responsibilities are similar but focused on office buildings, shopping centers, and other properties that rent to businesses rather than individuals.

Education, Training, and Experience

There are several career paths you can take to become a property manager, depending on where you start in your career. It's worth checking out our handy guide to property manager jobs to learn more about your options.

In most states, you need to earn a broker's license before you can operate as a property manager. That means earning your entry-level real estate license, gaining 1-3 years of experience as an agent, then becoming a broker.

A four-year degree is often expected, though not usually required (and a two-year degree is better than no degree). Appropriate courses of study include real estate, business administration, accounting, finance, or something similar.

Because of this degree of commitment, you may want to spend time working as a leasing agent first, to make sure it's the right career for you.

Property Manager Salary

A property manager's income is steadier than a sales agent's since they don't rely on commissions. As in sales, though, professionals who focus on commercial real estate make more money.

As of January 2021, the median national earnings for a residential property manager is $48,684 a year, while commercial property managers earn $63,921 a year.

#5: Real Estate Consultant, Counselor, or Advisor Jobs

Consulting is one of those real estate careers you grow into and not one that you train for directly. It's the culmination of years of experience.

Job Description and Specialties

Real estate consultants, sometimes call counselors or advisors, provide objective guidance on real estate decisions. Their clients are usually investors or commercial interests who need an experienced opinion to make the best investment. In exchange, they pay a consulting fee.

Unlike agents or brokers, consultants don't profit from a transaction or have a stake in the sale, so they have no personal bias or conflict of interest.  They also provide a higher, more well-rounded level of expertise and advice. 

There are several specializations within the field of real estate counseling, including development, corporate real estate strategy and execution, valuation counseling, and many more.

Education, Training, and Experience

People enter real estate counseling from a variety of backgrounds, including brokerage and property management.  There's no single career path. You should focus on accumulating experience and investing in your education, particularly in areas like financial management. 

However, commercial real estate (whether sales or property management) will provide the most relevant experience.  Earning real estate designations like CCIM, CPM, GRI, and SIOR can be effective gateways into consulting. 

A Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) designation also exists, but it isn't something you study for – it's invitation-only and requires at least 10 years of real estate experience, with at least three of them as a counselor.

Real Estate Consultant Salary

As of January 2021, the average national salary for a real estate consultant is $79,772 a year. Earnings vary based on your specialty, skill, and experience.

#6: Real Estate Developer Jobs

A developer is another real estate career with more than one path to entry, including a history as a sales agent.

Job Description and Specialties

Real estate developers usher a real estate project from concept to execution. That may include conceiving the project, as well as scouting land or buildings that need renovation, locating funding, handling permits, managing construction, negotiating deals, and more.

It's a challenging and sometimes chaotic job that requires problem-solving, leadership, and a hefty helping of risk.

Education, Training, and Experience

Some developers have backgrounds in construction, finance, urban planning, or architecture, as well as the real estate industry.

Experience as a sales agent can be valuable for developing skills like negotiation and sales, building a network of real estate professionals, and understanding the real estate market. An active real estate license is also necessary for several relevant professional certifications.

Most development firms also prefer a four-year degree in business, management, urban planning, civil engineering, or something similar. You may also want to pursue a master's degree in real estate development.

Real Estate Developer Salary

The national median salary for real estate developers is $87,609 a year.

#7: Real Estate Appraiser Jobs

Real estate appraisers work hand-in-hand with real estate agents. The position has its own separate licensing path, one which became a little easier in 2018.

Why did they reduce the barriers to entry? Because most appraisers are getting ready for retirement.

Job Description and Specialties

Real estate appraisers provide an objective estimate of a property's value.  They assess a property's condition and amenities, then use the property values in the area to set a number. Field appraisals and reports are important parts of the job.

Some appraisers work for banks, mortgage companies, local governments, or appraisal management companies on salary. However, most appraisals for home loans are handled by independent appraisers. They collect an appraisal fee per property, which varies based on the supply and demand of appraisers in their area.

The licensing levels for appraisal determine what kinds of buildings you can appraise. To appraise commercial real estate or residential buildings with five or more units, you must be a Certified General Appraiser.

Education, Training, and Experience

Becoming a real estate appraiser involves coursework and a trainee period of practical on-the-job mentoring. Finding a mentor and earning enough trainee hours can be a challenge, especially since you probably won't get paid in most cases.

Once you've met course and experience requirements, you'll need to take an exam and apply for entry-level licensing.

You can learn more about the process in our real estate appraiser career guide.

Real Estate Appraiser Salary

The national median income for a residential appraiser is $58,530 a year. Commercial appraisers make a yearly median of $74,487.

 

#8: Home Inspector Jobs

A home inspector is another of those jobs in real estate that works with agents but has a separate licensing path.

It's easy to confuse home inspectors with appraisers, but they're different. Home inspectors focus on the condition of the house, while appraisers focus on the value (which, of course, requires knowing the condition). Appraisals are often required by loans. Inspections aren't required but are highly encouraged.

Job Description and Specialties

Walk-throughs and reports are just as crucial to inspectors as appraisers, though they're looking for health and safety issues, rather than value.

Inspectors evaluate a house's exterior, interior, the surrounding area, and all of the house's systems. They document any problems, and a good home inspector will also put the problem in context, including how big a problem it is and whether it requires professional repair.

Most home inspectors are self-employed.

Education, Training, and Experience

The path to becoming a home inspector really depends on where you live.

Something like 15 states have no licensing requirements at all. You should consider earning a well-respected professional certification if you live in one of these states. This can help you prove your competence to prospective clients.

However, most states have familiar prerequisites like coursework, an exam, and license application. Some states also require hands-on field training under a certified home inspector.

Home Inspector Salary

The national median pay for a home inspector is $49,016 a year.

#9: Corporate Real Estate Manager Jobs

Businesses often own or lease all kinds of real estate – office space, retail locations, warehouses, industrial facilities, and even company housing.

Large corporations manage enough real estate that they need in-house real estate professionals to help them buy, sell, and manage their property.

Job Description and Specialties

For large entities, this "real estate job" is actually a cluster of different jobs in real estate. You may perform property management services for a corporation, acquire or dispose of property, manage new development or renovations, or facilitate employee relocations, among other options.

Education, Training, and Experience

You'll need prior real estate experience and strong skills to land one of these jobs, as well as an active real estate license.

Since these jobs deal with commercial real estate, those educational expectations apply.

Corporate Real Estate Salary

If you were wondering what real estate jobs make the most money, you found one. The national median income for a corporate real estate manager is $101,360 a year.

#10: Foreclosure Specialist Jobs

Foreclosure specialists are licensed agents or brokers who focus on properties in foreclosure.

Job Description and Specialties

In some ways, the work of a foreclosure specialist is like any real estate sales position. Sometimes you may work for the seller, helping the homeowner find a buyer. You may do the groundwork for investors who are interested in buying foreclosed properties.

However, another significant role of foreclosure specialists is helping a homeowner reclaim their home – something that obviously isn't typical in regular residential sales. This may involve reviewing liens, appraisal and inspection reports, and other documents. You'll have to communicate with lenders, courts, and other parties for the homeowner.

Regardless of your role, foreclosure transactions come with a lot of paperwork, red tape, and regulations. You need a good knowledge of banking rules, foreclosure and bankruptcy processes, mortgage servicing, and much more.

Education, Training, and Experience

Acting as a foreclosure specialist requires an active real estate license, as well as specialized knowledge that may require additional study.

You don't need any special credentials to call yourself a foreclosure specialist, but the NAR does offer an official certification in short sales and foreclosure.

You may also want to register with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which takes over the sale of any foreclosed home purchased with an FHA or VA loan. With a little paperwork, you can work on the sale or purchase of HUD homes.

Real Estate Foreclosure Specialist Salary

Like all real estate jobs, your income will depend on your location and your hustle. However, the national median pay is $44,310 per year.

#11: Real Estate Wholesaler Jobs

Real estate wholesaling is an area where a real estate license isn't required but can be beneficial.

Job Description and Specialties

A real estate wholesaler purchases distressed properties, evaluates their renovation needs and after-repair value (ARV), and finds a willing buyer. You'll need to work closely with a title company, an appraiser, and a contractor for accurate repair estimates.

In some cases, wholesalers don't purchase the property at all but enter into a contract with a buyer to sell the property at a specific price. They earn a percentage of the sale for evaluating the renovation needs and finding around for a buyer.

Unlike a house-flipper, wholesalers don't handle the renovations themselves. You're just a facilitator or middle man for buyers and sellers of distressed properties.

Education, Training, and Experience

While plenty of unlicensed investors take on the role of real estate wholesaler, it can also be an excellent sideline or full-time gig for licensed real estate professionals.

By law, wholesalers without a license will have to hire an agent, anyway. The network you build as a real estate professional can be useful in successfully leveraging a wholesale business.

Wholesaler Real Estate Salary

A wholesaler's percentage is usually 5-10%. Experienced wholesaling experts report that this often comes out to $5,000 to $10,000 per property.

Potential yearly income depends on skill, the local market, and the volume of business. Ziprecruiter estimates a national average of $78,301 a year.

Bottom Line

This is the tip of the iceberg – there are many more jobs in real estate where these came from!

If any of this sounds good to you, you can start your real estate career today.  We offer the courses you need to earn your real estate license online, at your own pace, around your own schedule. 

It's a flexible and affordable option that will allow you to get started without needing to rearrange or interrupt your current responsibilities.  Contact us now to get started!

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