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

121 Replies

@Nicholas Gray “That said, life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate. Choose a career that makes you excited to wake up in the morning, energized through the day, and content when you fall asleep at night.” Excerpt From The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing Joshua Dorkin https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-ultimate-beginners-guide-to-real-estate-investing/id680086730?mt=11 This material may be protected by copyright.
@Nicholas Gray, what about a program/project management job (related to engineering) until you get this RE investment figured out? I have a B.S in Mech and working on Sys Eng (not really engineering). I chose not to pursue mech for master's because I didn't want to be stuck as an engineer...I wanted to go manage engineers and make more money than them. I currently work as a program manager (9-5) in a technical field, which my mech degree comes in extremely handy when engineers want to BS some things. But what I learned as a program manager has been extremely valuable, from managing with various personalities to seeing the broader picture of problems. Sometimes engineers are stuck on a bolt when the problem is the where the bolt is placed. And it always seems like no two projects are alike... Which seems like the theme in REI from what I'm reading/listening. I'm just starting out in this transition as well, and I think a PM job would be beneficial for you to have a very good income while having some flexibility to explore RE investing. That way, you don't feel like you're stuck at an engineering job, but you're also not wasting the time and pain of education at those institutions.

@Nicholas Gray

If you don't mind the pay cut, I would try to land a job as a Project Manager for a general contractor. This would help you learn how to deal with and manage subcontractors in your investing ventures. It will also give you the opportunity to grow your network as you will be dealing with owners/developers, architects/engineers, and skilled labor on a daily basis. You will learn to read drawings, specifications, spot potential issues, and estimate work.

I have a somewhat similar story. I got a bachelors in aerospace engineering and masters in mechanical engineering. After five years of working in my field of study, I knew there was no way I could make it through a full career. I spent a lot of time determining what specifically I didn't like about my job, and came to the conclusion that I'm just not cut out to work in an office environment. I took a big risk and started at the bottom in the construction world with the goal of becoming a GC/home builder. I started as an apprentice for a very good tile setter. After a couple years I started working as a tile setter for a small company that specialized in very high end custom work. After another year I started my own tile company and used the connections I made to bring in a salary that was pretty close to what I was making as an engineer. Just a few months ago I partnered with the owner of the high end tile company I previously worked for, and we got licensed and started a GC company. He has 20 years of construction experience and lots of great contacts. I have lots of experience with project management, estimating, budgeting, etc from my engineering years. Now we're running high end residential remodels and about to start flipping as well. It's definitely more stressful running a business, but I wouldn't change a thing. All that's to say, if you really are going to leave your job, find an end goal that excites you, and put together a reasonable plan to get there. It may not be easy, but it's definitely worth it.

@Nicholas Gray

Speaking from the 'I feel and understand your pain', I think the 'suck it up' advice is most apt.  I've been right where you are.  Went to a great undergraduate school and did my BSEE (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and I remember the painful, gnawing, almost overwhelming feelings (daily, hourly) when I was working my first 'real job' in Orlando FL, at a consulting engineering firm.  I was struggling to fit in on the teams I was on, and ultimately failed (was fired).

My recommendation from a career perspective would be to do everything you can to get on the 'front end' of a product or project life-cycle.  The more you seek/do that, the more you get transferable skills.  Focus on learning so much that it causes you to get fired.  The advantage of your degrees and mindset is that you'll always be finding a soft spot to land.  You don't have to have an indefinite outlook to work in engineering.  It won't be that way - however I do feel it's imperative that you commit yourself to mastering your trade.  Get leadership/management experience along the way.  You'll get it if your curious and good at what you do.

I have never worked in aerospace/defense (avoided them out of undergrad) but my outside impression is that there are appropriate layers of bureaucracy at places like Rockwell Collins, Lockhead Martin, etc.  It fits the more 'check the box' kind of engineering culture but it wasn't for me.  My best guess is that part of what is causing you that same gnawing feelings/questions you describe.

Be patient, my friend.  It comes in time.

@Gilbert Dominguez

@Nicholas Gray

Nicholas did you take the FE exam?  In corporate world it (and PE) do not matter however Gilbert touched on something important.  I LOVE the engineering I get to do within real estate.  It's quasi consulting, I'm not working for someone else, and I get to learn within the ethical boundaries of my license.  It's wonderful.  If you took the FE, find someone (often at same company but doesn't have to be) that will sign off on your experience.  Get your PE and have the outlook to be self employed (hang out a shingle), along with your real estate ambitions.  That's kind of what I'm doing and although I miss the engineering, I also don't miss doing it ALL the TIME for someone else.  I like the variety now.  Take the long view, if you start connecting these dots now you can be doing that stuff later.

Originally posted by @Nicholas Gray:
I appreciate the responses, but as I said, I can't bring myself to go to work as an engineer anymore and the marginally higher paycheck and ability to buy deals slightly faster is not worth 40 more years of misery. Would someone please answer my original question?

 I believe the point is if you invest your high income right in RE while getting  this higher paycheck. It wouldn't be anywhere close to 40 years that you'd be working as an engineer.

From what I can tell, you are not opposed to working a 9-5, you just prefer it to be in real estate. There could be lucrative roles in your company that can still furnish you with the income you need but give you the skills that translate directly to RE investing. I work in the aerospace and defense industry. A primary function of my job is negotiating contracts with the USG for "stuff" that fly on aircraft. I work with a leadership team to manage performance of the contract through completion. Has nothing to do with real estate but absolutely has helped me in investing on the side and basically running my own little small business. Point is, you don't have to do a real estate job to gain skills to help you be an investor (not saying it does not hurt). You gave up engineering in 2 years. Are you sure you know what type of investor you want to be before jumping into some random real estate job based on recommendations from strangers? What tells you this about real estate, but didn't tell about engineering  before investing most of your early adult life on it? 

I don't know what would be a better job other than being a RS agent but I'll tell you what I'm doing. I work in the oil service industry as an engineer (more like a supervisor I don't use math at all) and most supervisor jobs can make anywhere from 150k to 250k. That leaves anywhere from 50 to 100k to invest in RS a year. You can buy properties very quick with that income plus it makes it very easy to get loans. 

Only downside is you work 12 hours shifts away from home.

@Nicholas Gray I’d recommend working for a lender to real estate investors, especially given your top tier education, I think they’d find your experience attractive. Companies like Lending Home, Lima One, etc are companies I’m thinking about but there are likely 20-30 more. If you worked in this area, you’d be exposed to all sorts of investors, deals, deal structures and terms. Cheers!
@Nicholas Gray I too long to travel the RE investing path. I’ve pondered the thought of switching to a job in RE, but have been stymied by the potential loss of income. I support my family of five, with young kids, so my responsibilities reduce my maneuverability. I find myself working on spreadsheets when Inshiukd be doing my job. If you explore the RE industry, you may consider starting it as a side hustle/moonlighting. Closing agents, title companies, real estate sales, working for other investors, flipping, wholesaling, CPA, lawyer, title companIes, bookkeeping, loan agents, HUD, city planning, etc .... all have their hands in RE. I recommend looking into the fire movement in order to determine if financial independence and retiring early are really what you’re looking for. Many will tell you that real estate sales aren’t as easy as one would hope. As an engineer, there’s a good chance that you are a little introverted. I see people were quick to squash your urges without consideration to what you really asked. If you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing, then change paths before you are encumbered by the trappings of life. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, we would caution you to measure the risks. You certainly don’t want to end up on the streets. Always leave your employer on good terms. Consider asking your employer for part time work, so you can do part time RE until you have your legs under you or maybe find out whether that’s the path you really want. How long could you be gone from your job and still return to it? What is your true end game? Is real estate a path to what you want, or is real estate what you want? If you want to find “the most lucrative” job in real estate only so that you can start learning and networking, then you don’t have to leave your job. BP, and countless others will tell you that you don’t have to quit your day job to do either. Join a local RE investment association. Read books.! Find others who enjoy your passion.
@Nicholas Gray If you’d like to buy and sell Real Estate, you could do commercial. They tend to work M-F, 9-5PM

@Nicholas Gray I am in my late 20's, soon to be married (1 month away), work in a pretty decent IT position, and empathize with you... 

Though I never thought I'd agree with @Thomas S.  point of view above, I would say he is 100% correct. Then again, I could also argue that fighting the good fight, changing careers completely, might also very well be ok (perhaps a little instagram-ish/self-help-ish). Ultimately, it comes down to you. 

I have always subscribed to the "use what you've got to work with" mindset. One thing I've realized over and over again: In the entry-level positions, you don't know what you don't know. Your degree and job in your field, while half the twenty-something-year-olds are out there are still "finding themselves" puts you lightyears ahead of your peers.

Your current job will open up faster than you anticipate. I speak from experience. Track you spending every month. Set savings goals. Make yourself more valuable to banks and investors. 

Say you're a lender, and I approach you. Hi, I am in my mid-20's with an engineering degree, an engineering position, a steady income, a savings I have built up each month, and I would like some money to finance this REI deal please. Here are my numbers.


Hi, I am in my mid-20's with an engineering degree. I left the field to pursue my passion in real estate. I have my new position at a real estate office. I would like some money to finance this REI deal please. Here are my numbers.

When both people walk into the bank or approach the investors (and believe me, they both do at the same time), who will they view as a sure bet? Lenders will neither care nor sympathize your move to pursue a 9-5 in RE out of passion. They will simply analyze you as a higher risk until you prove your tenure elsewhere. 

I ended up keeping my position in IT. I had already passed the 2 year mark at my current employer, as well as received 3 promotions. If REI was the goal, I realized the banks would work with me if I showed less risk; greater job stability, being financially disciplined, etc.

They give more money to those who need it less.

Of course, at the end of the day, if you are patient and persistent, you'll ultimately get to where you want to go regardless. 

Just my three cents. Good luck!

@Nicholas Gray I feel the same way I work as a medical provider high salary. I used to have a busiee work schedule and was Mentally tough most days. I switched to a low key very boring job not trying to do anything stellar that academics pushes you to do. I have an wireless earbud in my ear every chance I can get listen to bigger pockets. It helps ease the frustration of not being able to do investing full time. I use this frustration as a motivation to say I’m not doing this anymore it’s not forever. I talk to no one at work i do not get wrapped up in the drama, the politics except go yo work do my job well and my fulfIll my responsibilities I contribute nothing more everything else goes to my family and real estate investing. It’s sort of a mental shift. It’s not perfect but I’m making progress.
@Nicholas Gray I have a degree from Cornell as well but my goal all along was real estate so I did the business program there. With your degrees you will be able to pursue real estate career paths that others generally won’t have access to. It all depends on your interests. I’m typing this on my phone while at my sons doctor appointment so only have limited time but I can talk all day on this if you want to chat. Feel free to call my cell. The more advanced type of job that you can do the more you will be exposed to which will ultimately help your individual real estate career. I do commercial debt and equity placement so I’m exposed to all of the top players and capital sources. My role has allowed me to be an expert and offer consulting in many aspects to my clients. Other options include private equity, investment management, working at a developer, REIT, insurance company, bank etc. If you’re less inclined on the financial side but more interests in the physical asset you could work for a large contractor, an engineering firm, an architectural firm etc. all of these would have roles that you might be qualified or interested in. Property management is a skill and one to learn for sure but you can always outsource that. Pick a target interest and then go after a role that will give you the big picture rather than starting down a specific niche. Feel free to call and I’m happy to talk.

@Nicholas Gray - you attended the two schools that turned me down for undergrad. Nice work! I echo the sentiments of other here (admittedly, I didn't read every response). REI can be addictive and you seem to have caught the bug - that's a great thing! And you recognize the importance of having some income while you ramp up (good awareness). My recommendation is that you continue as an engineer while you read up, attend seminars, join your local REIAs (if you haven't already) and buy a place. You could easily be an ex-engineer within 6 months. Maybe it takes a year, either way it's not forever.

I'm a practicing real estate agent and you shouldn't expect to make any income for 4 months or longer. It takes time to build clients. If you find a buyer the first day, that's probably 2-3 months before you see a check. If you get a listing, that's likely longer. And you're learning a while new profession. IMO, forget being an agent.....do REI. I do both, but my passion is the latter. Also, if you're located in NH, it's about to get cold. There are (significantly) less people buying/selling in cold weather. Keep the aerospace work going through the winter and absorb REI. Then come out firing in the Spring. Good luck! 

@Nicholas Gray @Nicole Marshall I can only speak from my experience, growing up in a real estate investor family with hands-on landlord type parents, I found myself interested in the building trades so I got a BS in CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT from U of Washington.

My job was a project engineer (under the project manager and not a real engineer by your definition), and what we do is the coordination of large construction projects. I know enough about the building trades, I manage subs, contracts, schedule, payments, etc for large projects. It totally translates to small real estate projects too. I new PE coming out of college probably starts at 75k a year, depending on the market. The job is basically 9-5, more like 6-4. I think someone with your background could definitely get right into this area of work for a large general contractor.


Here is an okay job description of a project engineer for a large general contractor....

@Nicholas Gray If you are not making over $200k per year as a mechanical engineer (especially with those degrees) you're looking the the wrong areas for work. Go work on ships like the merchant mariners and make $15-20K per month. I hate to say it but REI will not touch that salary unless you had millions to start with. If you cant deal with it anymore then you need to quit being a snowflake and buck up and make that money for a few years, then go invest the earnings once you bank a mil or two. I have friend who actively do this or have done it so do not tell me I am wrong or this isnt possible. Best of luck bud!

@Nicholas Gray It sounds to me like you don’t want a job. You don’t want to trade time for money. There are two ways to make money (time x skill) so people making hourly, salary and even commission (commissions is the middle ground) or you can create value. The more value you create for the more people the more you make. It sounds like you want to be an Entrepreneur. It’s not for everyone but every job comes from Entrepreneurs. I will say it’s not for the faint of heart and takes risk but for me I know it’s more risky to not risk. The key is knowing what you can do and building a good team. Studying the people who have Succeeded and failed and what they have done and how you can translate that Into your own wins. Best of luck on whatever you decide. Also I will note that money free time, travel, amazing wife are all great but none of them will make you happy. Only being congruent with yourself others and God bring the fullness of happiness.

Greetings and salutations!

 I am P.Eng (Mechanical) and engineering it wasn’t my passion sort of speak but allowed me to reach an executive level and armed with the proper business tools, ethics and operations knowledge to subsidize my true passion. (Real Estate investing)  

Having a well paying job (and a regular pay cheque) allowed me to buy 4 Properties and supported a lifestyle that has been a blast for me and my family.  Engineering was chosen by accident but  paved the way towards my goals related to financial freedom. 

My approach since I was 18 years old was to work hard, balls on walls and worry about life balance, work  enjoyment or passion later in life. (If I had followed my “dream career” I would’ve been broke by now)

I am not saying that’s a rule, a recommendation or something to be followed but ..... that was my approach and I own it.

Follow your gut but remember that we only have one go at it so choose wisely. (Also a little nugget if I may,  remember that a good education often pays off)

Right now I am reaching a position that I don’t sell my time for money but rather, I strive to  make money work for me. 



I have a friend who is now probably about 75. He was an engineer working for Boeing for most of his early career. Anytime he had extra money he would buy and apartment, then a house, then another building....slowly over 30 years he has acquired over 75 properties  all in the Southern California area. All paid for now. You can imagine that he brings in more money in rents than he can ever spend. but he used the engineering job as the motor to drive all of his investments until such time as he no longer needed to work. Now he just spends time on his boat and traveling. 

Hail to the bored engineer who is now the richest guy on the block. :)

And what about rephrasing the question: 'What is the best RE jobs to work part-time?' Or even better, 'What are the best jobs that enable you to take the jump and fully focus on your own RE business?' Have to admit that this question is asked partially out of self interest ;-)

@Nicholas Gray

I agree with a lot of other posters- if you can stick it out in the career field that you've invested so much time and money (degrees) into, start putting that income into real estate, and make the transition to full time investor when it makes sense, you'll might end up in better shape.

That said, for RE-related jobs, I would consider real estate sales (residential and commercial), and perhaps construction or construction management if you were interested in flips.