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

121 Replies

Originally posted by @Nicholas Gray:

I am a relatively new buy-and-hold RE investor at age 24 who is looking to make a career transition and who needs some advice. My long-term goal is to go full-time as an investor, but in the short term I of course need to maintain a steady job to pay the bills and fund future deals. I have been working as an aerospace engineer for 2 years since graduating college, but I have lost passion for the profession and need a change (no offense to the other engineers out there, it's just not for me and I've become too fixed on real estate). I would like to find a full-time job in real estate to increase my experience and contacts in the industry, as well as to simply enjoy my work more. However, I'm not sure what job is best. I just got my RE salesperson's license and will soon begin selling homes, but I recognize that won't provide fixed income and could take a while to get going. Given this, I think that I still need a 9-5 job for now.

What RE-related 9-5 job would others recommend in my situation? Property management? Working for a RE investment firm? Something else that I'm not aware of? 

Money is not everything, but salary is a factor and I wouldn't want to give up too much, if anything, of what I currently make as an engineer. If it matters, my education includes a B.S. from Cornell and an M.S. from Stanford, both in mechanical engineering. I have no formal RE education, but I self-manage my own rentals, read RE & general business books incessantly, and have strong communication skills. 

Thank you in advance for your advice!

I can only speak from experience. I am currently in a good paying job for 25 years that I have been mostly passionless for. For years I was told RE and investing is too dangerous and too much hard work. And so here i am 25 years later and just starting as a newbie investor. I felt and feel exactly as you state above. Its not a millennial thing its just a "thing" or a feeling you have,  I understand. That being said I urge you to look at what you have on your plate right now. Its a stepping stone. You said it yourself, short term you need a good steady paying job and long term you would like to be a F/T investor. Keywords there are long term and short term goals! Right now 2 years newly graduated is not long enough. Take serious inventory of what you have or can have with the engineering field you are in (that you would not get elsewhere)...a very good salary, steady salary, health benefits, 401k or profit sharing depending on the company, experience in the work force and corporate structure, also the consistent income and job history... as we all know banks look for that when you are applying for loans etc. Most other commission based jobs don't have all those steady streams of certainty. Don't forget we are supposed to have a "crash" soon (thats sarcasm) you are going to want to have that steady engineering career so that you may continue to have income to buy all these properties at good "deal" prices when that crash hits. Maybe you could work 10 hour days and have one day off a week to pursue and go full in to RE/ investing or take a low paying or non paying job at a RE office and learn the ropes that extra day Or weekends, get creative with your engineering schedule and time off from engineering. But don't throw that degree away over a long term goal without the patience...long term put your time in even though you don't love it. May I offer a good read? Its a book called "So Good They Cant Ignore You" by Cal Newport. It may help you with your current situation.You can do it, go to your job... sock away as much as possible, spend less than you earn, and in your spare time hit the investor wagon and make tons of networks! I wish I was 24 again to take this approach. It sounds like a long time but 10 years can go fast. In that 10 year time span you could be scaling back on engineering while making $$$ and scaling up on investing, before you know it youll be a full time investor sipping drinks on the beach. Stay the Course....Hang tight.

I quit my job about a year ago and started my own real estate flipping business.  I worked for one of the largest international developers, Hines, in their asset management division.  And, one thing I learned was larger real estate investment firms put a lot of value in the schools you attend.  My point is, regardless of your experience they want smart individuals working for them.  

I would agree with most of the people here to just put your head down and grind it out.  But, if you absolutely can't stomach the idea of going to work anymore, I would get a job as an analyst in asset management or development.  You will be exposed to all of the important parts to real estate investments. (underwriting, construction cost, soft cost, etc) This will help you understand the economics behind the deals.  

@Nicholas Gray Yes, you need to have a full-time job for your living expenses and to fund future deals.  Further, no Lender is going to give you a mortgage if you don't have a job.  There are jobs in the Real Estate industry such as Property Manager, Assistant Property Manager, etc.  However (and this is just my opinion), it sounds like you have a fascinating career as an Aerospace Engineer - you are still young.  I think you should stay at your current job - you probably make good money, great benefits and the prestige of being an Aerospace Engineer!  You can do real estate deals on the side.  Best of luck to you!

@Nicholas Gray Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. The money for RE investing is there, hire a property manager, get a good lawyer, CPA, Realtor, build your team and let them all do their thing, while you do your own thing in the career you love. 

Best of luck to you! 

best part time employed hourly job related to real estate might be working part time from home for a big real estate speaking educational, promotions company...or a real estate retail or wholesale office ....

some agents do this..

Gotta love when people say “get rid of your millennial mindset” like there was no such thing as wanting a job you actually like before millennials were born. I understand the grinding hard and using your income at a job that pays well compared to dancing around job to job until you find one you like and postponing your investment career though, just an odd “go to” now a days to blame everything on millennials like it’s a new concept to want to be happy at your day to day. I’m a blue collar worker and get paid pretty well, and don’t care for what I do and will stay here until my real estate ventures pay for my way out, I just wanted to chime in on the strange wording that so many seem to agree with.
@Nicholas Gray I was in the same boat with my career (as a fellow millennial for the nay sayers...) and you have to do some research to figure out what you really love. Real estate is a huge industry and with your education, you probably have a lot of transferrable skills. Does your engineering background relate to contracting or new home building? Maybe project management? Ever considered being a real estate agent? Additionally, could you stay with your job long enough to build up a portfolio or buy and holds? I do agree it’ll be difficult to match your current income and it may just take some exploration (and more formal education) to find something you love long term. Good luck!

I agree with Thomas S. You have to take into consideration that if you change careers, that decreases the likelihood that you will be lend-able (at least from the perspective of traditional / conventional financing). Most lenders want to see 2 years on the job or at least in the same line of work. You always have alternative (i.e. Seller Carry back, Lease options) financing and hard money available. I would recommend you take a good look at what your future goals are and then mold your decisions based on those goals.

I would suggest that if you do in fact want to change careers in the RE field, you can go into property management. PM is one of the best ways to find off market deals. When a tired landlord is ready to sell, the PM is usually one of the first to know and you have the potential to cherry pick deals for yourself and wholesale the others you don't want to other buyers for a fee. 

Hope that helps. 

Robert Mendieta

@Nicholas Gray I'm in the exact same position as you. Couple years out of college and realize that I have no passion for my 9-5 job and want to do real estate full time. I got my real estate license a year ago and have been doing that and the 9-5 job for the past year. It has been tough, but I have built the real estate business up to the point that I am going to be quitting the 9-5 and doing that full time within the next few months. Doing property management is also a good source of some steady income along with selling homes. If you could see yourself doing that full time spend a year building up the agent business and then take the plunge. A year will go faster than you think!

@Thomas S. That's a mindset I know the older generation has and something my father preaches as well - "work is not meant to be enjoyed". In my opinion, find that's a sad way to look at life considering we spend a large majority of our time working. Why do something that you do not enjoy and have to grind through the day. I'd much rather make a little less money and do something that I find enjoyable, fulfilling, less stressful and better for my overall health. You only get one life to live, so make the most of it.

I heard about a nurse who works with terminally ill patients and she liked asking them about their life experiences and regrets to learn from their wisdom and thoughts on what really matters in the end. The number one response she got from people on their deathbed was they wished they had worked less and pursued their passions and dreams, spending more time with family and friends, doing things that made them happy.

@Nicholas Gray On to your original question, I'd look for any job related to real estate that you'd enjoy and meets your salary requirements. A lot of trades have sales relating to the real estate industry. One of my previous roles was working for a major Telco and doing partnerships/sales with landlords, stratas and PM companies. It was a great way to build a lot of connections and also went to tradeshows where I met a lot of trade companies, RE lawyers, etc. 

A similar role with the Telco was to work with the developers of commercial and residential buildings...

I think being a realtor would be a pretty helpful gig too as you'll have a constant pulse on the market and get the inside scoop on developments.

Originally posted by @Nicholas Gray:

I am a relatively new buy-and-hold RE investor at age 24 who is looking to make a career transition and who needs some advice. My long-term goal is to go full-time as an investor, but in the short term I of course need to maintain a steady job to pay the bills and fund future deals. I have been working as an aerospace engineer for 2 years since graduating college, but I have lost passion for the profession and need a change (no offense to the other engineers out there, it's just not for me and I've become too fixed on real estate). I would like to find a full-time job in real estate to increase my experience and contacts in the industry, as well as to simply enjoy my work more. However, I'm not sure what job is best. I just got my RE salesperson's license and will soon begin selling homes, but I recognize that won't provide fixed income and could take a while to get going. Given this, I think that I still need a 9-5 job for now.

What RE-related 9-5 job would others recommend in my situation? Property management? Working for a RE investment firm? Something else that I'm not aware of? 

Money is not everything, but salary is a factor and I wouldn't want to give up too much, if anything, of what I currently make as an engineer. If it matters, my education includes a B.S. from Cornell and an M.S. from Stanford, both in mechanical engineering. I have no formal RE education, but I self-manage my own rentals, read RE & general business books incessantly, and have strong communication skills. 

Thank you in advance for your advice!

All I can say Is I was Ex-engineering, Computer Science, and I liked the numbers but I had a problem. I liked interacting with people so I decided on being a mortgage broker/lender/loan officer.

Pros:

- unlimited income

- lots of people interaction

- learn a lot about real estate investing (appraisals, value, rehabs effect on value, investment properties, etc)

- potential for really high income (top LO's make 250k +) so you can reinvest in more deals and fund your projects

Cons:

- no salary/commission only

- highly challenging and constantly evolving lending guidelines products, client psych profiles, and more (could be a pro too)

- you're sometimes a therapist to the emotional whims of your clients

- high stress

Usually engineers do very well as real estate agents too. I have a buddy who is a chem engineer who switched to a RE broker and makes 400-500k in orange county but hes a straight hustler and works like 55-60 hrs a week.

The cool thing with being an agent is you get to see deals every day, you get to walk properties, meet with inspectors, appraisers, and be as close as a deal as an owner with out having the risk of owning or purchasing.

The same can be said with a lender however we dont typically go to the site as often.

Pros and cons to each.

Best of luck,

@Nicholas Gray. All I can say is that what you want now isn't what you may want in 5 years. Just stay at your job keep working and if you spend a few hours a day at your job researching real estate so be it. I think the same thing about doing real estate full tie, but like any real estate deal it has to make sense with the numbers to leave your job.

@Nicholas Gray 25 year old civil engineer near D.C. here currently working on my master's in project management and going through my first flip in Baltimore right now, I understand you pain in a sense, although I actually enjoy engineering a little bit. Going through my first flip has been exciting, stressful , and an incredible learning experience. I cannot wait to start the next project or find the next deal, but I lack to the funds or network. I blame this on my youth and lack of patience, I'm ready to go full throttle into REI, but I just haven't put in the time and work to do so yet.

I have, like you, considered becoming a part time realtor to increase my network and income or just quitting engineering altogether to pursue a full time RE job with the ultimate goal of becoming a full time RE investor. I have not done so because I feel it would be throwing away the value of my education and experience, I don't know if I am making the right choice though.

I respect your guts to quit a high paying job to purse your dream, and I wish you luck. Please let me know what you end up doing and how it works out for you, or if you ever want to invest near DC!

@Nicholas Gray We have all been there at some point. Questioning why we have pursued a career that we no longer love. I’m all for chasing your passion and feeding the RE machine in the process. With your background in engineering you may consider home inspection in addition to sales. I am an inspector in Tx and have friends in the field that regularly clear 6 figures a year just with Inspections. This will also give you the opportunity to build your network within the RE community

@Nicholas Gray I'm a 23 year old who recently graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering and I know exactly what you mean. I think the toughest thing is knowing what you want to pursue and seeing the path there, but then having the patience for it to play out. I've been struggling with that myself. I think it may be best to stay with that job for a couple years and build RE on the side until it gives you more flexibility for a change.

@Scott Trench 's book Set For Life talks about saving up and building a reserve of cash to give you the opportunity to take a lower paying job initially, but that gives you room to grow past your current income. This may be the best option for you to get out of your job now after a year or so and move into something like being an agent or another RE related job and build up the income over time.

Best of luck to you!

It will be so much easier to get financing in the position you are in; hang in there; find a way to make this job work for you; instead of you working for it.  Put some headphones on, or chase the pretty girls around, or do anything you need to; to keep your interest.  The key to life is patience and tenacity; if you start giving up so quickly on your steady work income so early; what's going to keep you interested in real estate; it gets pretty monotonous at times too, with paperwork, relationships with people you may not like; and other life issues;  you are young and handsome and have a lot going for you, but please do not start the "HABIT" of quitting.  This is a habit that spreads like wildfire.  I know because I am just now getting my ducks in a row and I am 56.  Stay put and dig in, you can do it; we all believe in you. 

Originally posted by @John M. :

@Nicholas Gray I understand hating your job, I have had high paying six figure jobs in IT however over the years I have jumped around from finance to IT to real estate sales and then back to IT again.  I even did quite well in real estate sales because I love marketing and deal making and working with clients.  But at the end of the day although I didn't do bad in real estate sales I still made quite a bit more in IT and found the money mattered, that's why I am back in IT pulling down a six figure salary.  

It sucks having no passion for your work, and every day that I don't shoot myself in the head is a success story.  However if you're making a big salary you can create options for yourself that many other people don't get.  That's why I stick with it for now, but I have a 5 year plan with an eventual exit.  Five years of hitting the snooze bar six times every morning to get out of bed doesn't exactly thrill me, but I will be so better off later if I stick with it for now.

If you can't take it another day, you can do what I did and that's give yourself a year to "find yourself" or whatever you want to call it like when I did real estate sales full time, maybe you can also get a W2 9-5 job as an assistant for a successful broker, i.e. scheduling showings, listings, escrows, etc.  And if things don't work out you can always fall back on your engineering career.  You're young so you can afford to take some risk and experiment.  

I am not sure if any of this helps, but I think if you're willing to take some risk like I did it's ok to give yourself permission to try something else as long as you have a fallback plan if things don't work out.   I guess is that's what I am saying - have a plan and go for it dude! 

Hey John. Do you mind me asking how you're doing today, how's your plan coming along and what changes have you made to it? 

Originally posted by @Jónas Tryggvi Stefánsson :

Hey John. Do you mind me asking how you're doing today, how's your plan coming along and what changes have you made to it? 

Hey Jónas I am still at the same job doing the same boring thing, lol.  It's been worse with covid since now I am stuck at home by myself 24/7 and I am soooo ready to move on with my life.  But I am still trying to stick to my original plan so only about 2 years here left.  Sometimes it's better to just suck it up and stick out a situation that you may not be happy in, if in the long run you'll be much better off.  It's not easy right now, but I try to focus on being thankful that I have a good job in the midst of an economic calamity.

 

@Nicholas Gray and @John M. and whoever else is thinking about making a career change because they can't stand their job, I highly recommend reading the book When to Jump by Mike Lewis. I'm not sure if anyone else already suggested that book but it has some great advice on how to make the transition from one job to another. I know this isn't answering the original question of which W2 jobs are best for REI, but a lot of people gave really good answers alresdy like @Jay Hinrichs , so I wanted to suggest something to help you when/if you decide to take that next step.