Engineering and Real Estate

14 Replies

Hey BP,

I was wondering if anyone has advice on how I can apply my mechanical engineering degree to learn more about real estate. I just graduated and am currently looking for my first entry level job. I was thinking I could work for a residential development company as a civil engineer or something similar. At this point I feel that applying my job to real estate then I can still learn, network, and provide opportunities to myself so I can efficiently do real estate investing. I am willing to take a pay cut for a position that may not be as high because the other benefits (knowledge) will outweigh pay.

@Jon Wimmer You can use your analytical skills in real estate in multiple ways - underwriting, construction, project management and management. From an investor's point of view, you might find it easier getting a higher-paying (on average) engineering job and using your funds to start acquiring properties. 

From a career perspective, you must start networking. Setup informational interviews with interesting people to learn more about the industry and what area you'd like to work in. As you educate yourself, you will develop a better understanding of where you fit best. 

Thanks for the advice @Omar Khan

I have called several real estate development companies in Tulsa (closest city to me) and one did take my resume. I have taken steps to begin informational interviews already and have done some networking at REIAs and meetups. I do still feel far from finding where I will fit best if I do not go to work for a traditional engineering company.

@Jon Wimmer I would focus on developing a relationship. Even if people ask you if you're looking for a job, say "not right now". As soon as you say you're only focused on getting a job, no matter what you say after doesn't matter. People understand that this is merely a transactional relationship at that point.

REIA and meetups are nice but you need to pick a few niches and focus on them. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile and use that as a way to connect with people. Write a short - 2-3 line, nothing more - introduction and cut to the chase.

@Jon Wimmer most investors are engineers by education. You can say it’s a good with numbers thing which is true but REI is basic compare to a lot of engineering stuff.

Use the fact that your salary will never be spectacular as motivation to take action. You can see where this trend line is going and if you are like me you will realize that you need to take control of your financial future.

@Jon Wimmer I would listen to @Omar Khan . He’s giving good advice. I just asked him for some advise the other day and he gave me good advice too.

I’m a mechanical engineer by trade and education. I graduated 2 years ago. I have some rentals. You make good money as an engineer but like @Lane Kawaoka alluded to it will plateau. That’s why you invest.

I would recommend getting the highest paid job in a field that pays well, like technology, research and development etc. then go get a masters in a couple years.

Basic REI like buying rentals is much much easier to understand then almost anything you learned In school. So use that to your advantage. That being said I would get a high paying job as it makes REI much much easier .

Feel free to message me to chat more if you want

Hey Jon,

I currently work for an engineering company out of Houston and have been picking up rental properties for the past decade.  More recently, I have moved into multi-family properties (one of which is in Skiatook) and mini storages.  I found that my analytical skillset was useful in constructing financial models for the multi-family properties and I use some of the tools I have to develop construction schedules.  Like everyone before me said, I would focus on networking because that will likely land you a job first and begin opening doors for real estate investments.  Best of luck

Well, to be honest, I'm not sure I would mix the two. It completely depends though on what you are wanting to do in real estate.

If there is a job that is real estate-related that really appeals to you, then that's one thing. But I'm not sure I would sacrifice a job you could potentially love for one that either pays less or isn't as desirable just to gain REI skills. The reality is- you can learn REI on your own outside of your job.

You're an engineer so you obviously have brains. Which means, you can easily teach yourself whatever you want to learn in REI like the rest of us did. My background is aerospace engineering and I worked in the field for 5 years before I left it for entrepreneurship/real estate. I started teaching it all to myself while I was working in aero (top secret flight test, so nothing even remotely overlapping with REI) and it worked great. It almost felt like a hobby to learn it, and then I was able to create a business out of it.

Again, if you find a cool job that lets you learn some of it, awesome, but I wouldn't say it should be forced or is required. 

A quick analogy from my own life... When I was 2 years into college I decided I wanted to be a pilot. So I transferred colleges to one that had a Professional Pilot degree. I started into the degree, but one day woke up thinking- what if one day I don't want to be a pro pilot? What would that degree help me with? And then in conjunction with that thought, I realized that I in no way needed to get a degree in flying because I could get all my licenses and ratings completely unrelated to college. So I switched to aerospace engineering technology as my major and did all my flight training at a local airport near the school....totally unrelated to the school. That way I still got all my flight training, so if I wanted to be a pro pilot I could be, but that way I also had the engineering (or otherwise) option if I needed or wanted it. 

I share that just to say--things don't always need to overlap in order to accomplish what you are wanting to accomplish. They can, if it fits, but it doesn't have to.

@Jon Wimmer it could be a good idea if you can find a real estate related job that you might like.
I'm a structural engineer in Houston and used to design large commercial projects (think schools, university buildings and so on, mainly large reinforced concrete and/or steel structures). It was very technical and heavy on calcs. I wanted something less intense in design and get more exposure to the business side of things which I tend to really enjoy.

I also wanted my job to be more in line with real estate which is why I recently started working for a small structural engineering firm focusing on residential projects and small commercial. I get to design houses, custom houses, provide solutions for heavy renovations, assess foundations, go on the field, network with builders, contractors...etc. So far, it's been absolutely great and I'm learning a ton about houses and the business side of things! I'll soon be a PE which should open even more opportunities for me.

Good luck in your search. It's important to find a job you'll enjoy! Nothing is worse than being miserable and not engaged at work.

Hi @Jon Wimmer

Glad to see another Okie/engineer/real estate investor on here. One heck of a combination, if you ask me! I echo what @Lane Kawaoka   ,@Tristan S. , and @Callum K. have all said. You'll find that many real estate investors have an engineering background. As an engineer, you have the advantage of a good job with a good salary. If nothing else, take that salary and put towards real estate investing until you figure out what you want to do in the long term. Best of luck! 

@Omar Khan @Lane Kawaoka @Caleb Heimsoth @Callum K. @Ali Boone @Tristan S. @Jacob Ayers

Hello all!

I wanted to thank all of you very much for your wise words of advice. I finished my degree and am now working at NORDAM working on airplanes. Something I have always wanted to do. 

So now my girlfriend and I have been driving around trying to find some small multifamilies to househack near my job. I also have been looking for a great real estate agent to start building my team. Any suggestions on real estate agents, wholesalers, lenders, CPAs, lawyers, and so on.

By the way Jacob Ayers, I was listening to the BiggerPockets podcast and heard that there was an engineer that bought houses in Oklahoma. So I looked up the podcast notes and saw your logo looked familiar. Now here I am in one of my old posts and there you are! Haha, congrats on getting on show 281, I loved your story!

Originally posted by @Jon Wimmer :

@Omar Khan @Lane Kawaoka @Caleb Heimsoth @Callum K. @Ali Boone @Tristan S. @Jacob Ayers

Hello all!

I wanted to thank all of you very much for your wise words of advice. I finished my degree and am now working at NORDAM working on airplanes. Something I have always wanted to do. 

So now my girlfriend and I have been driving around trying to find some small multifamilies to househack near my job. I also have been looking for a great real estate agent to start building my team. Any suggestions on real estate agents, wholesalers, lenders, CPAs, lawyers, and so on.

By the way Jacob Ayers, I was listening to the BiggerPockets podcast and heard that there was an engineer that bought houses in Oklahoma. So I looked up the podcast notes and saw your logo looked familiar. Now here I am in one of my old posts and there you are! Haha, congrats on getting on show 281, I loved your story!

Congrats on the job and good luck on the property hunt!

@Jon Wimmer , awesome! Congrats on graduating and the new job. I don't have many contacts in the Tulsa area I can recommend, as far as wholesalers/agents. I have worked with some great lenders in OK though, come time for purchasing something. I would ask an agent to put you on a list for small multi's, and you'll get an email anytime something new hits the market. Beyond that you can get creative with your search - driving for dollars, looking for distressed properties (pre-foreclosures, unpaid taxes, eviction records, etc.), and scouring local Facebook pages/craigslist for FSBOs. Drop me a note if you have any specific questions on anything. 

Good luck and keep after it! 

@Jon Wimmer there are two types of investors. Broke ones and those with money. As an engineer I suggest putting your head to the grind stone for 3-6 years and make money so you rise above the noise of wholeselling and flipping so you can be almost accredited investor.

Hi Jon,

I graduated as a chemical engineer back in 2013, so I can relate. I got a full-time job using my engineering degree and used that money (as well as the ease of qualifying for lending with a w2 job) to acquire all of the rentals I have so far. So, I would consider pursuing a job as a mechanical engineer and then saving up buy your first investment (either a house hack or, since you'll be making $60k plus per year, a 25% investment property). No better way to learn about real estate than to buy real estate.