The real estate industry is enormous. In the United States alone, 9 million jobs are tied to real estate, 13% of GDP comes from the industry, and the aggregate value of U.S. commercial real estate is over $5 trillion. Yet, in spite of the its impact and size, there is still a lot of confusion around what it means to work in real estate. In this four-part series we will explore the various careers in real estate and what a job in real estate is all about.

skycrapers of Commercial real estate

Real Estate accounts for approximately 13% of U.S. GDP.

What is a Career in Real Estate?

Ask any layperson what a real estate professional does, and they’ll likely tell you a real estate professional lists and sells single family homes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people I’m in real estate, and they immediately assume I’m a residential real estate agent. But the real estate industry is much more than just your local real estate agent. It is a diverse group of well-educated professionals designing, developing, investing in, and managing the places where you and I live, work, shop, and play.

The industry offers a wide range of highly lucrative, rewarding, and impactful careers in real estate. In this four-part series, I first detail the different sectors of real estate; then, I describe the various fields of real estate; next, I list the job functions performed by real estate professionals; and finally, I offer some insight into the compensation paid for different roles. Throughout this series, I’ll also refer you to some useful sources to learn more about current hiring trends in CRE.

Click to navigate through the careers in real estate series:

Note: Many of the name conventions used in this series come from a report published by Cornell University and