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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Real estate degrees open up var­i­ous career paths includ­ing roles as real estate agents, bro­kers, apprais­ers, and prop­er­ty man­agers.
  • Real estate pro­grams often inte­grate busi­ness, law, finance, and urban plan­ning ele­ments, prepar­ing stu­dents for diverse chal­lenges in the real estate sector.
  • Grad­u­ates can pur­sue pro­fes­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and licens­es which enhance cred­i­bil­i­ty and career prospects.

The world of real estate is an excit­ing place to be with the poten­tial to earn an excel­lent salary while help­ing make a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives. As with most things, the more knowl­edge you have about the ins and outs of real estate, the less like­ly you are to run into trou­ble, and the more like­ly you are to make mon­ey. Work­ing in real estate can also pro­vide a sat­is­fy­ing career for the entire­ty of your adult work­ing life. The path­way to gain­ing entry into the field is get­ting a bach­e­lor’s in real estate. Then, lever­age your knowl­edge into a great well-com­pen­sat­ed career. So, is a real estate degree worth it?

Yes. Get­ting a real estate degree is worth it as it gives you access to employ­ment roles that are inter­est­ing, excit­ing and chal­leng­ing. It pro­vides you with a foun­da­tion­al under­stand­ing of the world of real estate and enables you to enter a career at a lev­el that goes beyond bro­ker­age. You’re prob­a­bly ask­ing your­self “what can I do with a real estate degree?” at this point, espe­cial­ly if you’ve nev­er con­sid­ered the idea of real estate being a career that is more than bro­ker­ing homes.

The types of careers for peo­ple who earn a real estate degree include work­ing as a real estate agent or bro­ker, prop­er­ty apprais­er, asset man­ag­er, land use devel­op­ment, and real estate financier. The real estate degree stands on its own, and also acts as an umbrel­la for dif­fer­ent con­cen­tra­tions in the area of real estate and busi­ness. There’s some­thing for every­one who’s inter­est­ed in work­ing in real estate and wants to make the world a bet­ter place for peo­ple to live their lives.

Types of Real Estate Business Degrees

Bach­e­lor degree pro­grams for real estate are plen­ti­ful and are offered by top uni­ver­si­ties across the U.S. As you look at schools with a real estate degree, you’ll note that the best col­leges for real estate degrees are ones that bring a busi­ness or finance con­cen­tra­tion into the pro­gram. This aspect is ben­e­fi­cial to stu­dents due to the fact that all real estate trans­ac­tions involve one or mul­ti­ple finan­cial com­po­nents. Col­lege real estate pro­grams dif­fer from school to school with some call­ing their pro­gram a real estate major while oth­ers out­line the type of edu­ca­tion that’s pro­vid­ed under the umbrel­la descrip­tion of a degree in real estate.

Some of the dif­fer­ent types of real estate busi­ness degrees include:

  • Com­mer­cial real estate
  • Res­i­den­tial real estate
  • Real estate development
  • Urban plan­ning and land use

The top uni­ver­si­ties for real estate typ­i­cal­ly com­bine their real estate class­es with class­es from their busi­ness school, but the col­lege major for real estate is a true major. In oth­er words, when you grad­u­ate with a degree in real estate, you have engaged in an edu­ca­tion that cov­ered the real estate dis­ci­plines of law, design, finance, and plan­ning. These class­es cov­er every­thing real estate with the busi­ness class­es pro­vid­ing you with an under­stand­ing of the busi­ness man­age­ment prac­tices you’ll need as part of your career. An employ­er in the field of real estate under­stands the val­ue of the col­lege major for real estate, and is aware of the best under­grad­u­ate real estate pro­grams and what they offer.

Earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s in real estate stud­ies pre­pares a stu­dent for a career in one of the many roles relat­ed to the real estate indus­try. Attend­ing the best col­lege for real estate degree can posi­tion a stu­dent to start a career work­ing for a major real estate devel­op­er, man­age the oper­a­tions of a real estate divi­sion of a cor­po­ra­tion, or work in a finan­cial insti­tu­tion that pro­vides con­struc­tion loans to small or large builders. Good schools for real estate are ones that offer a real estate pro­gram that’s aligned with your career inter­ests and has a con­cen­tra­tion in one of the major areas of real estate. You may want to get a busi­ness degree for real estate, or you might be inter­est­ed in get­ting one of the best degrees for real estate development.

Online Degrees in Real Estate

When the best col­lege for real estate that pro­vides the edu­ca­tion you want isn’t eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, you may be able to get an online real estate degree. Degrees in real estate online pro­grams offer the same edu­ca­tion as a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram, and gives you access to a pro­gram in a way that makes it afford­able. As you con­sid­er your options for an online real estate degree, remem­ber that you need to get your real estate license in your state of res­i­dence. An online real estate degree pro­gram tak­en in anoth­er state may not pro­vide you with the right infor­ma­tion you need to get your real estate license in your state. Out­side this minor issue, get­ting a real estate degree online has a lot of poten­tial to pro­vide you with an edu­ca­tion and a sol­id degree with excel­lent earn­ing prospects.

The fact that you can learn how to get your real estate license out­side a degree pro­gram opens up the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage in a “learn and earn” path­way. That is, you attend a real estate degree pro­gram and start your career as a real estate bro­ker at the same time. There is noth­ing that stops you from get­ting your real estate license and attend school at the same time, but you might want to con­sid­er get­ting your real estate degree online. Attend­ing an online real estate degree pro­gram offers flex­i­bil­i­ty in terms of atten­dance and course­work while sav­ing you time on the com­mute to a cam­pus for a tra­di­tion­al program.

Pro­grams for degrees in real estate online pro­vide the same edu­ca­tion as a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram that requires class­room atten­dance. Online degrees in real estate are espe­cial­ly advan­ta­geous as they can enable you to start your career in real estate as a sales agent or bro­ker. The expe­ri­ence you gain while work­ing is direct­ly trans­fer­able to your edu­ca­tion in that it can help you earn high­er grades and improve your employ­ment prospects after grad­u­a­tion from an online degree in real estate program.

Anoth­er aspect to con­sid­er when look­ing into pro­grams for real estate degrees online is the abil­i­ty to engage in an intern­ship. You don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly forego an intern­ship when attend­ing a school that offers real estate online degrees, but you may need to work out an arrange­ment with the school to find an orga­ni­za­tion that will accept you as an intern. Online intern­ships are also an option and can give you access to pro­fes­sion­als in the field who can poten­tial­ly help your career.

Tak­ing an intern­ship helps you net­work with pro­fes­sion­als in the real estate indus­try, espe­cial­ly in the niche of your career choice, and helps you with find­ing employ­ment when you grad­u­ate. Bring­ing real world work expe­ri­ence to a job posi­tion after grad­u­a­tion works in your favor as employ­ers know that you’ll need less time to get up to speed with the position.

Professional Certifications for Real Estate

As you look for real estate cer­ti­fi­ca­tions online, you’ll find there are two types of pro­fes­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for real estate: a pro­fes­sion­al cer­tifi­cate that requires attend­ing a school and des­ig­na­tions and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from var­i­ous coun­cils, insti­tutes, and soci­eties. A grad­u­ate cer­tifi­cate pro­vid­ed by a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty and cer­tifi­cates from coun­cils, insti­tutes, and soci­eties that offer cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in a spe­cif­ic area of real estate. Stu­dents who don’t have a degree can enroll in a col­lege-lev­el cer­tifi­cate pro­gram, as can some­one with a degree from a dif­fer­ent field. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and des­ig­na­tions from real estate asso­ci­a­tions are award­ed to real estate pro­fes­sion­als who take class­es and pass an exam.

College Certification Courses

The grad­u­ate cer­tifi­cate in real estate online from a uni­ver­si­ty is usu­al­ly sim­i­lar in nature to a real estate licens­ing course and pro­vides the nec­es­sary edu­ca­tion to sit for a state exam and gain licen­sure. Many schools offer real estate cer­ti­fi­ca­tions online, and are ben­e­fi­cial to new­com­ers and those with indus­try expe­ri­ence. Tak­ing an online real estate cer­ti­fi­ca­tion course is a con­ve­nient way to pre­pare for tak­ing a state licen­sure exam.

A col­lege that offers pro­fes­sion­al online real estate cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cours­es typ­i­cal­ly has stu­dent learn­ing out­comes that result in a stu­dent devel­op­ing the skills they need to:

  • Con­duct real estate trans­ac­tions after licensing
  • How to under­stand the legal doc­u­ments involved in a real estate trans­ac­tion, con­veyance, financ­ing and leasing
  • Under­stand the pur­pose, meth­ods, and use of appraisals on real estate
  • How to admin­is­ter bro­ker­ages using the appli­ca­tion of laws and rules relat­ed to real estate

An online real estate cer­tifi­cate pro­gram may also pro­vide prac­ti­cal advice in the form of how to inter­act with clients, how to act pro­fes­sion­al­ly, and pro­vide an overview of the type of admin­is­tra­tive work you’ll per­form in a real estate office.

Professional Designations and Certifications

There are numer­ous des­ig­na­tions and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions avail­able to real estate pro­fes­sion­als that serve to show clients that you have made an effort to gain a cre­den­tial that proves your exper­tise in a spe­cif­ic area of real estate. Often­times, these cre­den­tials are avail­able as an online real estate cer­tifi­cate pro­gram that allows you to learn at your own pace. Some des­ig­na­tions and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions avail­able to real estate pro­fes­sion­als include:

  • Short Sales and Fore­clo­sure Resource (SFR)
    Real estate pro­fes­sion­als can learn how to work with dis­tressed sell­ers and guide them through the process
  • Real Estate Invest­ing (REI)
    Teach­es real estate pro­fes­sion­als who want to learn how to work with investors as well as become an investor.
  • Soci­ety of Indus­tri­al and Office REALTORS (SIOR)
    SIOR is held by top pro­fes­sion­als in the com­mer­cial real estate field. Mem­bers have to meet stan­dards that include expe­ri­ence, ethics, pro­duc­tion, edu­ca­tion, and have recommendations.
  • Gen­er­al Accred­it­ed Apprais­er (GAA)
    Award­ed to apprais­ers who have edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence that go beyond state appraisal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion requirements.
  • Cer­ti­fied Res­i­den­tial Spe­cial­ist (CRS)
    This is the high­est cre­den­tial that res­i­den­tial sales agents, bro­kers, and man­agers can earn. Those who receive this cre­den­tial earn almost three times more than non-cre­den­tialed REALTORS.
  • Cer­ti­fied Com­mer­cial Invest­ment Mem­ber (CCIM)
    The CCIM des­ig­na­tion is the glob­al stan­dard for pro­fes­sion­al achieve­ment in com­mer­cial real estate. It’s earned through 200 class­room hours and meet­ing pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence requirements.
  • Cer­ti­fied Prop­er­ty Man­ag­er (CPM)
    Designees of CPM are real estate pro­fes­sion­als who can demon­strate exper­tise in real estate man­age­ment. The des­ig­na­tion shows the pub­lic at large that the designee is trust­wor­thy and an expert in the field.

Real Estate Licensure

The first step in learn­ing how to get your real estate license is to gain the nec­es­sary knowl­edge for your state’s licens­ing exam. This can be achieved by tak­ing a class for real estate bro­kers, or as part of your degree pro­gram. Most states require an aspir­ing bro­ker to take a course that takes an aver­age of 70 actu­al hours to com­plete in order to take the exam to get a real estate license. Upon suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the exam, you can get your real estate license and find employ­ment with an agency.

As you look into how to get your real estate license, you’ll find that there is no fed­er­al require­ment for licen­sure. Your state of res­i­dence pro­vides the licens­ing exam for a real estate agent or bro­ker’s license (the two terms are some­times used inter­change­ably), and the license is only good for that state. In the event you want to move to a dif­fer­ent state, but main­tain your career in real estate, you’ll need to learn how to get a real estate license for that state.

When con­sid­er­ing how to get your real estate license, you need to exam­ine your finan­cial, edu­ca­tion­al, and career goals. Does it make sense to attend the top real estate pro­gram for a bro­ker’s license, pass the state test for your real estate license, find employ­ment as a real estate agent, then attend the best real estate school you can? Or should you attend a school with a col­lege major for real estate and earn your real estate license after grad­u­a­tion? These are ques­tions you can con­sid­er at any time dur­ing your real estate degree pro­gram and take action if it’s the right deci­sion to make at that time.

Careers in Real Estate

One of the biggest rea­sons to get a degree in real estate is the fact that there are mul­ti­ple real estate career paths that fall under the two major branch­es of the real estate col­lege degree pro­gram. A grad­u­ate can enter into the busi­ness side of real estate man­age­ment, or enter into a real estate finance posi­tion, then find their way into one of the dif­fer­ent types of careers in real estate that enable them to focus on a career path that suits them best.

Real estate career paths include:

  • Agent
  • Apprais­er
  • Bro­ker
  • Asset man­age­ment
  • Lease nego­ti­a­tion
  • Mar­ket analysis
  • Prop­er­ty manager
  • Invest­ment
  • Finance
  • Devel­op­ment
  • Pub­lic and pri­vate partnership

The many pro­fes­sions in real estate can enable a grad­u­ate to enter into one of the real estate career paths that makes the most sense for them. Here’s insight into some dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sions in real estate that reflect the var­i­ous career options in real estate:

Real Estate Finance

Real estate finance is inter­twined with the pur­chase of real estate. A major­i­ty of peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions that buy prop­er­ty need financ­ing to make a pur­chase. You can work in a bank pro­vid­ing retail loans to home­buy­ers or work in com­mer­cial real estate finance. The types of jobs for real estate majors who want to work in real estate finance include res­i­den­tial mort­gage loan offi­cer, real estate asset man­ag­er, com­mer­cial mort­gage loan ana­lyst, and com­mer­cial real estate underwriter.

Property Management

The role of prop­er­ty man­ag­er is one of the career options in real estate that pulls togeth­er man­age­ment skills with finan­cial edu­ca­tion. A prop­er­ty man­ag­er needs to stay on top of things such as build­ing main­te­nance, scav­enger ser­vice, land­scap­ing, build­ing secu­ri­ty, and leas­es. They also have to make sure that the prop­er­ty tax­es are paid, funds are set aside for main­te­nance, and pay the mort­gage and insur­ance pre­mi­ums. Employ­ers typ­i­cal­ly seek out peo­ple with a real estate degree for this posi­tion, mak­ing it one of the great jobs for real estate majors.


The role of the apprais­er high­lights the fact there are dif­fer­ent types of careers in real estate that go beyond the retail­ing of homes. An apprais­er deter­mines the mar­ket val­ue of the home based off mul­ti­ple fac­tors that they’re trained to look for. They have to be unbi­ased in their obser­va­tions in order to come to a fair mar­ket val­ue for the prop­er­ty, and be capa­ble of record­ing their obser­va­tions in a clear for­mat. The fin­ished appraisal is used by the lender to deter­mine if they’re going to lend the mon­ey for the prop­er­ty or not.

Average Income of a Real Estate Agent

Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, the aver­age income of a real estate agent was $51,220 per year in 2020. This amount aver­ages the salary of real estate bro­kers and real estate sales agents which are $60,370 and $49,040 in May 2020, respec­tive­ly. The job out­look for these roles is pro­ject­ed to grow 4% between 2020 and 2030, and is slow­er than aver­age for job growth across all indus­tries. Most of the job open­ings are pro­ject­ed to come from the need to replace peo­ple who move into oth­er careers or exit the work­force. It’s worth not­ing that this data for the aver­age income of a real estate agent reflects the aver­age salary for an agent or bro­ker who works for an agency or as an inde­pen­dent, and is not involved in oth­er areas of real estate.

The high­est pay­ing real estate jobs include:

  • Retail real estate manager
  • Zon­ing manager
  • Relo­ca­tion director
  • Com­mer­cial real estate executive
  • Prop­er­ty manager
  • Com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment manager

How much does a real estate agent make?The real estate agent aver­age income varies from state to state and role. For exam­ple: the aver­age salary for a full-time com­mer­cial real estate bro­ker in Cal­i­for­nia is $136,160 with the 75th per­centile earn­ing $98,130. The aver­age income of a real estate agent in states with less com­mer­cial real estate activ­i­ty may be low­er than aver­age due to less oppor­tu­ni­ty. How­ev­er, the lack of oppor­tu­ni­ty for one type of real estate doesn’t mean this applies across all sec­tors of real estate.

The entry-lev­el salary range doesn’t real­ly tell you how much a real estate agent makes, though. Medi­an salary or nation­al aver­age is just the start; the best pay­ing areas, like New York, will add so much to your base salary from com­mis­sions and more.

An enter­pris­ing indi­vid­ual who has earned their degree in real estate is qual­i­fied to work in many areas of the indus­try, and can cre­ate their own career path­way if they’re so inclined. There’s noth­ing stop­ping an indi­vid­ual with a degree in real estate from hang­ing out their shin­gle and get­ting involved in mul­ti­ple aspects of real estate trans­ac­tions. For some, this is one of the best careers in real estate because it involves work­ing for one­self as an entre­pre­neur, and offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to keep a vari­ety of skill sets up-to-date, and build experience.

It’s also pos­si­ble to work in real estate part-time as you pre­pare for a new career.

Professional Organizations and Associations in Real Estate

Join­ing a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion or asso­ci­a­tion in the field of real estate pro­vides access to the lat­est indus­try news, net­work­ing events, trade pub­li­ca­tions, and con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties at the hyper­local, local, state, and nation­al lev­els. They also dis­cuss the cur­rent job mar­ket in the var­i­ous facets of the real estate indus­try and pro­vide you with insight as to where you might find the best job prospects and career growth. You can join as many orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions as you like, or just the orga­ni­za­tions that are most close­ly aligned with your field of real estate. Many orga­ni­za­tions allow mem­ber­ship from real estate stu­dents to help them get an idea of what it’s like to work in the real estate indus­try. Fol­low­ing is a look at some of the pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tions and orga­ni­za­tions in real estate:

National Association of REALTORS (NAR)

The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of REALTORS is the largest asso­ci­a­tion of its type in the U.S. It’s been in exis­tence for 112 years, has 1.5 mil­lion cur­rent mem­bers, and has 1,200 offices across the coun­try. NAR offers con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion for its mem­bers, has a strict code of ethics, pro­vides exclu­sive data for the real estate mar­ket, and aids in the pro­mo­tion of indi­vid­ual REALTORS.

NAIOP or Commercial Real Estate Development Association

NAIOP, orig­i­nal­ly known as the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Indus­tri­al Parks, is one of the largest com­mer­cial real estate asso­ci­a­tions in North Amer­i­ca and has cre­at­ed a strong net­work of indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies involved in the com­mer­cial real estate devel­op­ment and invest­ment indus­try. It has over 19,000 mem­bers and pro­vides them with advo­ca­cy, busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties, and education.

Appraisal Institute (AI)

The Appraisal Insti­tute is a world­wide pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tion of real estate apprais­ers and has almost 17,000 mem­bers from around the world. Most of the mem­bers of AI are involved in real estate appraisal and prop­er­ty analy­sis in order to pro­vide prop­er­ty val­ues to home­own­ers, buy­ers, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, finan­cial insti­tu­tions, and more. AI sets high stan­dards for its mem­bers through process­es that include peer review, edu­ca­tion, des­ig­na­tion pro­grams, pub­lish­ing, and more.

National Trust Real Estate Association (NTREA)

The Nation­al Trust Real Estate Asso­ci­a­tion is aimed at real estate pro­fes­sion­als who per­form fidu­cia­ry roles for indi­vid­u­als or work for a finan­cial insti­tu­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion is ded­i­cat­ed to advo­cat­ing for and against laws on behalf of its mem­bers, pro­vid­ing net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, edu­ca­tion­al and infor­ma­tion resources, and enables mem­bers to bet­ter serve their clients.

Relat­ed Rankings:

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Real Estate

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Real Estate

10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Real Estate

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Real Estate