What is the best RE-related 9 to 5 job?

121 Replies

If you really want to understand real estate and make it your future income stream then get a job as an analyst at a commercial real estate owner/manager/developer firm. You will learn the basics of identifying a potential investment, work on income projections and find different returns for your investment. Without the basic accounting degree, it will be tough for you to get into the property accounting department where you get hands on experience on managing and operating your property. 

@Nicholas Gray This is the thing, folks are saying that you have to make as much at your day job to support your second job, buying property. I have a few clients who are in the same situation as you. They are highly educated, make great money, and want to be in real estate. What they find out is that it takes work. A lot more work than their current job. They could deal with property issues + tenants or work a little bit harder at their day job and go from making 200k to 250k and have none of those issues. I will tell you of my own poor choices when I was 24. I had a job I was a perfect fit for. I was making more than enough money, building something great, and loved what I did. At the time I thought this is terrible, allowed myself to let it consume me, and didn’t deal with the stresses/pressure the right way. Usually we have to change, not our environment. You can apply that to relationships, real estate, or working a job.

@Nicholas Gray, I completely appreciate that you have lost your passion for your job. Given that, I encourage you to read this article: https://money.cnn.com/2016/02/24/news/economy/tras...

Throughout the history of the world, very, very few people have done jobs because they enjoyed them. The world is mostly miserable drudgery, and we 21st century, first-world citizens are very blessed.

You're talking as if you have a choice between a new field now or 40 more years at your current job. You don't. You can use your current job to feed capital into RE investing until you're ready to cut it loose. 

In my RE experience, I have done some rehab myself. Know what I learned? It sucks! It's much less enjoyable and pays a lot less per hour than my engineering job. So why did I do it? To pay my dues, learn about expectations for hired labor, and be a better investor. 

You want to do RE? Great! But even if you do quit your day job immediately, you WILL find yourself spending hours doing things that you don't enjoy. It's part of getting off the ground.

Embrace the long view.

Hi Nicholas, 

As many have said, you are in a good position, despite being miserable in your job. However, I think misery counts for a lot :) I was headed down a similar-ish path: degree in Psych with the plan for a PhD in clinical work. However, I started college at 16, and in my 3rd year of school, discovered RE. I ended up getting my broker's license and dropped out of school after 3.5 years, which lead me to investing.

I'm very fortunate that I realized the traditional path wasn't for me early on, before I took out a ton of student loan debt (state paid for my college until I turned 18, which was an AAS). Anyway, my point is, I don't think you should "get out of the millennial mindset" of wanting and expecting job happiness. Every job is going to have some degree of awfulness, but if you are truly miserable, then why adopt the boomer mindset of working a terrible job until you die? That's kind of ridiculous advice, haha. 

Now, I don't neccessarily think you should just quit your job, either. You have a high paying job and likely a lot of debt. The good news is, since you're not trying to climb the corporate ladder, it kind of doesn't matter if you jump around to different companies or whatever. All you need is a paycheck and W2 income. My thought is that moving companies or slightly changing positions every once in awhile may give you enough change to keep you somewhat interested in your job until you are able to "retire" with RE. Also, maybe re-framing your mindset from "I need to get out of this job" to "I do this so I can buy RE and retire" may help a little bit.

If I were you, I would do that, while aggressively investing (and paying down loans if needed). Depending on your DTI, you may need to work at reducing expenses (rent/mortgage, car loan or transportation, etc). Bonus points if you can find a semi-work from home job or a job with less hours (assuming you're salaried and your work week is more of a 60-hour ordeal than a 40-hour). Once you lose W2 status (as a RE agent or as an investor), it will be much harder for you to get loans. Use your license to buy your own properties, and also to learn as much as you can about the business. Maybe work on slowly building up a client database and network, so that when you do quit, you'll have an easier time transitioning into sales.

Hope that's helpful. Sorry that you hate your job, and best of luck!

What does your financial situation look like? To me that is the biggest player here. You talk of suffering for another 40 years, though with some sound budgeting I imagine you could create huge wealth in 10 years simply through saving. Why do it that way when you can invest?

What does your current lifestyle cost? Could you live off 25% of what you earn and invest the rest? If you are willing to make that change you could be out of aero and into REI in 3-5 years imo. You have the degree's you have because you believed in yourself and worked hard. Find a way to do the same thing in the REI game and you will crush it!

If you havent checked out BP's money podcast you should! @Mindy Jensen @Scott Trench are talking all about this subject. They interview all types of folks who have been in your shoes too.

@Nicholas Gray With your background, I recommend that you learn about acquisitions or asset management roles at REITs or REPE firms. High paying roles in real estate, that you can probably access with a lot of networking since you have a demonstrated quantitative ability.
@Nicholas Gray it’s not 9-5. It’s worlds better tho. Firefighter especially if you work in the area you buy.

Hi Nick. I am currently in the exact same situation as you. I’m also 24 and working a corporate engineering job, while investing on the side. I don’t necessarily hate my job, but I do notice myself losing the passion and drive that I originally had. We have already accepted that real estate investing will be our future. All that “climbing the corporate ladder” don’t mean crap anymore. I don’t believe switching to a RE related field will benefit you. Regardless if you are working for an aerospace company or real estate firm, the main variable thats constraining us is capital. You should not sacrifice your income advantage, for a possible increase in networking opportunities. Your network and experience will typically out grow your capital. Also, the real estate job scene is completely different from the investment side. I too have my RE license but sales is not my thing.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but changing career fields is definitely not the right move in my opinion. However, changing your job is. Your dissatisfaction with your current role may be just that. Try switching to a different company. It will renew the passion and make your life a lot better. I try to leave work everyday better and smarter than the day before. Like everyone said, we are in a good place right now. You already dedicated 6+ years to get to where you are right now. It makes no sense to waste it by starting from scratch.

P.S. I didn’t graduate from Cornell or anything... but if you would like to connect with me, we can keep each other posted on our RE adventures (;

Currently work for a large financial institution, I absolutely hate it but agree with other posters who look at the 9-5 as a way to begin your RE investing. With that being said, you can always go to a financial institution and work as an analyst in a commercial real estate role or work for a Real Estate Development Company or Broker and see how you can utilize your skills to transition into a new career. Note many of the roles I see (I’m actively looking for RE roles) include number crunching roles that involve calculating cash flow & other pieces of information. Other roles include sales such as RE agent, etc.

@Nicholas Gray,

Have you considered moving into sales or business development within your field? Sales and business development allow you to still make a great income, build sales skills that help with raising money in real estate, builds your network, as well as allows more flexibility to assist with growing your portfolio. 

@Nicholas Gray Nicholas, I can't answer your original question because I'm in the earliest, most raw stages of learning about investing but for the sake of moral support, I completely agree with not staying at a job you hate and enduring 40 years of misery for the sake of your salary. I just finished my Doctorate (I'm 26) and am working as a nurse practitioner and quickly realizing that if I make this my entire life I'll end up on the other side of the locked psych unit (I work in behavioral health). Investing is about finding creative ways to generate income, and they might not all be ideal but you can always supplement a lower salary by using things like wholesaling or rent to own options with very little if any money down. I guess I don't have enough experience to know but I would say any of the jobs you named in RE will give experience that contributes to a competitive edge in investing. Anyway, life is meant to be enjoyable and fulfilling, not suffered through so that you can enjoy a decade or two at the very end

@Nicholas Gray I found being an Agent a surprisingly helpful transition into full time real estate investor. 

But be careful, you wake up every day "unemployed". So if you really need that W2 income for now, stay with the current job until your passive income goals surpass your current income. 

I've found the transition super stressful at times, rewarding at others, and one hell of an adventure. I'm not financial free yet, but the real estate "agent" has helped me a ton. It has put food on the table, allowed me to work for myself, and brought me education and connections I would not have otherwise. 

The hardest part has been the health insurance, it is super expensive as a 1099 employee. Under 30 it was $250-300. As soon as I turned 30, it skyrocketed to $500. And that is almost the cheapest plan I could get. 

Overall my advice is to work your way backwards, figure out what you really want and plot it out with 1, 3, 5 and 10 year goals. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in 10 years. 

Also being an agent is a job, I just switched to eXp for the passive income side of things, as well as representing my own brand. (Passive income streams are the ultimate goal)

P.S. Don't forget to marry up, I love my future wife very much, and its just an added bonus she brings great health insurance:) haha

Hello @Nicholas Gray.

I am currently in residential real estate and have experience with residential sales and residential/multifamily property management. I will try my best to give you the 15,000 foot view of the real estate industry and what some of the jobs/careers are. My thoughts and advice are based on personal experience and what I have learned from reading articles/talking to people.

To quit or not to quit: Before you decide to transition to a full time real estate career you will need to decide if you are okay seeing a significant cut in pay. @Omar Khan is right that the pay will be lower than what you are used to. Real Estate is a fun and sexy industry. Every body talks about it and every body wants to be a part of it. Because of its prestige, how fun it is and how simple people think it is you will have a lot of competition for any job you apply for. If are willing to work hard, network like crazy and accept lower pay for several years you will find great satisfaction (and wealth) in real estate. If you want to keep making lots of money in the short run and continue to invest I would suggest you find another engineering job/company that you enjoy more and save your money. You can always work as an engineer and moonlight as an investor doing your own deals. Once you establish your own track record you will be able to easily find investors for deals and find a full time job in another part of real estate. People love initiative!

Residential or Commercial: Next you will need to decide which path to take. Both have positives or negatives so I suggest you Google (or BP) this question and see what others have to say. If you decide to go commercial I suggest you start in commercial first. Its harder for a residential agent to become a commercial agent than a commercial agent to get started with residential. If you decide to go the commercial route I suggest you move to a large city. You will find more opportunities and types of jobs in bigger cities as well as more networking opportunities.

Category of Real Estate: Next you will have to decide what kind of real estate you want to work with? There are many categories but the big ones are Multifamily/Residential, Office, Industrial, Retail, Land etc. I suggest you read what others have written about it and decide which category to pursue. Choose wisely because once you choose a path it is very hard to switch to another category of real estate.

Types of jobs: Now that we answered the preliminary questions we can now talk about types of careers you can enter into. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the possible careers but is a short list of great entry level jobs I have researched.

1) Analyst: at the end of the day real estate is a financial vehicle that generates cash flow and preserves wealth. Working as an analyst (for loans, development shops etc.) is a great way to learn how to evaluate property and deals. This position will open many doors in commercial real estate and development. It is important to choose an analyst position that matches the category of real estate you want to focus on. Each category of real estate has nuances on how you underwrite a deal and different assumptions you put into the model. 

2) Property Management: This is a great field if you are interested in a 9 to 5. The industry is stable, opportunities for employment are quite plentiful and every property in every geographic area needs a good property manager. Working in the management field will teach you a lot about the category of real estate you are managing. You will be exposed to the decision making of both the owners and the tenants. The money in property management is in managing commercial properties (i.e. office, industrial, retail) or really large apartment communities (i.e. 300+ units). Just be aware that it will take a couple of years at an entry level job to get to a property manger role.

3) Assistant to a commercial real estate professional: This is the best way to get a job in commercial real estate! Though you will be working hard with lower pay you will be able to have practical experience in the category of real estate you want to focus on. If you want to get into a competitive field like development this is the best way to gain industry knowledge and contacts. 

4) Commercial Real Estate Agent: Though you won't be working 9 to 5 nor will you have a stable paycheck this is a great way to get into real estate as a career. The people you meet, the properties you analyze and the deals you close will set you up for a successful career in real estate! I know two people who started in commercial brokerage and ended up with a 9 to 5 job in commercial real estate. One friend started in brokering multifamily real estate and is now doing corporate real estate for a large retail company. Another friend started brokering retail/office and now is working for a development shop in LA county that buys and rehabs shopping centers.  Based on my research I suggest you try to focus on investment brokerage as that will provide the most options.

Before I conclude this long post I want to leave you with three links. The first link is a report from a Florida University outlining the different fields in commercial real estate. The second link is a study on different salaries in real estate. The third link is a brochure by IREM on property management field.

I hope I answered your question and good luck with your goals!

1) Starting a career in Commercial Real Estate:  http://www.crossmanco.com/wp-content/themes/crossm...

2) Salaries in Real Estate: http://celassociates.com/prime/wp-content/uploads/...

3) Careers in Property Management: https://www.irem.org/File%20Library/Careers/IREM_c...

@Nicholas Gray - I would look into a job in acquisitions/asset management for an institutional investor. In addition to learning a ton, you will have access to world class market research, complex financial models and will develop best practices for sourcing, executing and managing deals. I've worked with institutional investors for almost 15 years, and it has been an incredible benefit to my investing.  

@Nicholas Gray My 2 cents: 1) I’m not a fan of crowd sourcing career decisions so I can’t tell you exactly what job to look for. LinkedIn is a good resource. 2) I would urge you to ask yourself why you want to leave mechanical engineering. You spent a good part of your life getting educated, what is driving you wanting to jump ship? You need to understand this. 3) Understand what you are getting into. House hacking a duplex is one thing, managing a portfolio is another. You’re entire day will be dealing with problems. Worst decision you can make is leaving engineering to pursue RE only to find out you don’t like RE that much when you are really tested.

Hey Nick,

It is awesome that you at such a young age have made the decision to follow your dreams.  I applaud you for that and wish I would have done so myself.  This is just a simple suggestion but if you are anything like me, well I have always enjoyed working with wood and really on DIY projects.  Have you considered working in home rehab or construction?  Just a thought because if it were me I think that would be a great place to pick up large amounts of knowledge in real estate.  I really hope you find something that's a good fit for you and good luck. Most of you posting are missing the point, it's not about the money.  It's about being happy in life and doing something you enjoy.

Nicholas Gray I can tell your going to be successful from your formal education background no matter what you do. This is a subjective question that has many options obviously. Being passionately curious and persistence will drive you forward.

1. I think finding a mentor in the real estate niche you want to do as a career and go work for him or find way to bring value to him.

2. Or join a mastermind that you have done due diligence on.

I personally made my biggest jump in my business when I spent a week around Robert Kiyosaki for a real estate event and came back saying.......... I’m burning the ships and going 100% all in with real estate. It’s easy to get distracted in this game with all the options in the industry.

Happy Investing

Originally posted by @Michele B. :

I think everyone is missing the question he asked.  He didn't say how can I make the same money, he said what can I do to help my real estate career.  I have a great idea for you.  GO  WORK FOR A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION. You could get a job working as  a loan officer or as a loan consultant.  You are obviously good with numbers.  GO to all the local small banks and all the large banks in your area.  Or find another type o financial institution that you can work for. 


Let me know if I can help.

see my item 5 above were I said the same thing.. mortgage industry done correctly is very nice.. not as good pre dodd frank but on the private side can be quite good if you can get a HML to bring YOU on.

@Nicholas Gray  I've had the same internal debate for a while now.  I went to the same undergrad as you and am in a similar position in terms of solid W2 income while investing on the side. My plan is to suck it up for a few more years until I can fully replace my family's W2 incomes with RE.  

Just come up with a freedom number and leverage your income to get there.  

The key is to always be learning and most importantly implementing the skills you are gaining. I took the construction path by working for a couple homes builders and general contractors throughout my career.  I found this beneficial for many reasons.  I am able to evaluate the overall condition of a property as well as accurately budget for repairs and capital expenditures.  Knowing and working with good contractors can save you a lot of time and hassle.  Whatever path you take, keep your options open to learn new skills that will help you down the line.  Your network will be invaluable! 

My guess is that your math, modeling, projections, etc. skills would be top notch considering your credentials.

If you insisnt on finding a new job to go in RE full time, learn something that complements your current skills. Learn how to swing a hammer by picking up a trade. Carpenter, electrician, and plumber are all excellent routes. This way, you have best of both worlds: ability to identify undervalued and underutilized properties, and ability to improve those properties to their maximum potential.

That being said, I'd just grind out the corporate job and make stacks of money to fund more deals. Whats the average salary for Stanford MEng with 3~4 years of experience? What percentage of realtors, property managers, or trades person make that figure? What route is the fastest and surest way to own enough properties so that you don't have to grind in any W2 job?

@Kelsey Mandus Imo this is the best advice on this thread. You will learn so much working at a commercial firm. You will know how to thoroughly analyze big commercial deals. From there you will understand so much about re. As an investor, i started as a realtor to learn the “game”. I got my hands on a few deals so i could become comfortable with the process. I am still to this day learning how to analayze bigger multi family/commercial deals. @Nicholas Gray you have a bright future dude. Keep swinging for the fences.