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Career Info for a Degree in Real Estate or Real Estate Finance

Degrees in real estate or real estate finance are designed to educate students about the housing market. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for real estate graduates.

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Although a degree is not required to become a real estate agent or property manager, these professionals may find that a degree in real estate or real estate finance is an asset. Loan officers, however, are required to have a bachelor's degree and can prepare for their career by completing a degree in real estate finance.

Essential Information

There are a lot of great real estate careers available to students today. These careers prepare individuals to help others find and finance the home of their dreams. Real estate agents find listings of homes in an area, estimate the true value of properties and even contact other professionals to inspect the home. All of these services help people stress less when searching for a home. Some schools offer programs where students can major or minor in real estate. Students may also get their certification. Coursework in these programs typically include appraisal, real estate law and financial practices.

Career Real Estate Agent Loan Officer Property Manager
Education Requirements High school diploma or equivalent Bachelor's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements Have to be licensed; must be 18 years or older; pass an exam Licensure required Licensure required
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% 8% 8%
Mean Salary (2015)* $58,410 annually $75,170 annually $68,240 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Individuals seeking a career in real estate generally don't need a degree, but it is a plus and it gives them more experience in this field. Real estate and real estate finance careers can be lucrative if the individual has good communication and research skills. Below are overviews and descriptions of possible career options for real estate graduates.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents assist property purchasers and sellers by listing properties, showing properties to potential buyers and helping buyers secure financing. Real estate agents generally work for commission, although those employed by large real estate firms may also receive a salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aspiring real estate sales agents must complete high school and pass a state licensing exam before beginning work (www.bls.gov).

Individuals may also consider obtaining certification from a professional organization. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers the Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) designation for real estate sales agents who complete coursework and pass a specialized exam.

The BLS predicts that employment for real estate sales agents will rise by only 3% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the mean annual income for real estate agents was $58,410 in 2015.

Loan Officer

Loan officers assist consumers by originating and processing loans through financial institutions such as banks and savings and loans corporations. They determine which loans best suit an applicant's needs, processing the applications and determining whether potential borrowers will be able to repay a loan. Loan officers with degrees or training in the real estate field generally specialize in mortgage loans.

According to the BLS, mortgage loan officers must complete at least 20 hours of designated coursework and pass a licensing exam to begin work. For experienced mortgage loan officers interested in professional certification, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) offers the Certified Mortgage Banker (CBA) educational course and exam.

The BLS estimates that employment for loan officers will increase 8% from 2014-2024. In 2015, loan officers saw a mean annual salary of $75,170, BLS data reflects.

Property Manager

Property managers oversee the operations of income-producing properties such as retail malls, apartment buildings and office buildings. They collect rent, ensure that taxes and fees are paid and tabulate information such as vacancy rates, rental values and store performances. Property managers report this information to the owners of the property portfolios, who use it to make informed decisions about further purchases, sales or development of property. NAR offers the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation for individuals who complete the course and pass an exam.

The BLS anticipates a job growth rate of 8% for property, real estate and community association managers between 2014 and 2024. The mean salary for property, real estate and community association managers in 2015 was $68,240 per year, according to the BLS.

A degree in real estate provide students with the communication and research skills needed to become successful real estate agents and property managers. These professionals sell or rent residential or commercial properties while loan officers prepare financing for those purchasing property. All of these professionals must be licensed.

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