Top Jobs in the Real Estate Industry

Real Estate Career Options to Consider

A real estate agent shows a house.

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Do you love looking at real estate, to the point where you understand the local market better than anyone else you know? If you combine this passion with a salesperson’s drive, an administrator’s attention to detail, and a genuine desire to help people buy (or sell) their homes, consider a career in real estate.

The compensation is usually good—and sometimes, it can be excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the top 10% of real estate brokers earned more than $176,080 in May 2021. However, it’s worth noting the bottom 10% of brokers made less than $30,470.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents earn a median salary of around $48,000 a year, and the top 10% of agents make more than $100,000.
  • The base pay for real estate brokers is considerably higher than the base pay for real estate agents.
  • When searching for a real estate job, it's important to look at base pay, as salary figures that include bonuses and commission aren't guarantees for newcomers to real estate careers.

Real Estate Career Options

The real estate industry offers professional opportunities for workers other than agents and brokers. Many other real estate positions are available, and several paths exist into real estate work.

Most consumers are unaware of the distinctions between these roles and they use some titles interchangeably, even though the legal definitions differ.

Top Real Estate Jobs

Real Estate Agent

These terms "agent" and "broker" are often used interchangeably when, in fact, the difference is rather significant.

Agents can be either buyers' agents or listing agents. As the terms imply, the former represents those who want to buy property and the latter assists those who want to sell.

There are two levels of licensing in real estate. You must first take a training course, pass a test, and receive a license to practice as an agent under the supervision of a broker. State requirements for licenses vary.

Salary: According to the BLS, real estate agents earned a median annual wage of $48,340 in May 2021.

Real Estate Broker

Becoming a real estate broker requires a second level of licensure after becoming licensed as and working as an agent for a period of time. Further study and a more stringent test are required.


Many states impose certain educational requirements that must be met before sitting for the broker exam.

Some employers may give preference to brokers with a college degree, while others will accept a high school diploma and the required pre-licensing courses. 

Associate brokers are those who are licensed as brokers themselves but work under the supervision of another broker. Managing brokers manage their own real estate offices.

Salary: According to the BLS, real estate brokers earned a median annual wage of $62,010 in May 2021.

Other Positions in a Real Estate Office

Real Estate Clerks

Real estate clerks don't need licenses, although they do need relevant experience. They maintain records and handle paperwork and other administrative duties for real estate brokerages.

Salary: The median salary for real estate clerks is $28,400, as of July 2022.

Office Managers

Office managers oversee a brokerage's day-to-day operations, not unlike in other industries. They deal with everything from maintenance and ordering supplies to scheduling and bookkeeping.

Salary: According to PayScale, office managers earn an average hourly wage of $18.15, as of June 2022. 

More Common Real Estate Jobs


After a building is built or renovated, an inspector comes in to ensure that the building is up to code.


Some inspectors specialize in residential houses, while others specialize in commercial and other types of buildings.

Home inspectors provide professional opinions and documentation of a home, determined by a visual evaluation in addition to operational testing of the home’s elements and components to determine its current condition.

Salary: PayScale reports that building inspectors earn an average salary of $55,082, as of July 2022.

Real Estate Appraiser

Because most real estate properties are not bought with cash, bankers have processes for deciding whether to issue loans to buyers. That process begins with an appraisal—a professional estimation of the financial value of the property.

Real estate appraisers sometimes also set values for property tax purposes, for setting compensation levels in cases of seizure by eminent domain, and they might assist in negotiations between buyers and sellers and renters and owners.


Appraisers must be either certified or licensed, and several levels of licensure exist.

Salary: According to Glassdoor, real estate appraisers earn an average base salary of $79,122, as of December 2021.

Loan Officer

A loan officer takes over on the bank side of the equation after the appraiser performs their job, while any of several types of mortgage professionals will help the buyer negotiate the process. Mortgage consultants, or loan officers, advise borrowers on choosing the best mortgage and they assist in helping them fill out loan applications. They make their money through commissions on the loans.

Salary: Loan officers earn a median salary of $63,380, as of May 2021.

Loan Underwriter

Loan underwriters make sure that buyers are able to repay their mortgages before granting approval for loans. The underwriter will either approve, suspend, or turn down a mortgage application.

Salary: According to Glassdoor, loan underwriters earn an average salary of $64,671, as of December 2021.

Closing Agent

Licensed closing agents or closing coordinators ensure that the financial transaction is conducted properly, distributing paperwork, and providing escrow instructions.


Closing agents make sure that all documents are signed correctly to transfer ownership of the property from one party to another.  

Salary: Glassdoor reports that closing agents earn an average base salary of $56,043, as of December 2021.

Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate lawyers make sure all legal agreements involved in the sale are properly drawn up, and they handle any disputes about ownership.

Salary: According to PayScale, real estate lawyers earn an average salary of $83,386, as of April 2022.

Real Estate Consultant/Analyst

Real estate consultants and real estate analysts help potential buyers understand how to invest in real estate to get a good financial return.

Salary: PayScale reports that real estate analysts earn an average salary of $61,710, as of July 2022.

Property Manager

Real estate managers, sometimes referred to as property managers, manage properties belonging to investors. They deal with hands-on operations and are additionally responsible for maintaining the property's value and income. They are typically paid a percentage of the rents they generate and collect.

Salary: According to Glassdoor, property managers earn an average salary of $67,754, as of December 2021.

Foreclosure Specialist

Foreclosure specialists facilitate the process when a home or property is reclaimed by a bank due to non-payment on a mortgage. They might help the homeowner restructure their loan to keep the property or help a prospective buyer to navigate the purchasing process. Foreclosure specialists also work with banks and real estate companies.

Salary: Per Glassdoor, foreclosure specialists earn an average base salary of $46,959, as of December 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the highest paying job in real estate?

The answer to this question depends on if you're looking at base pay or base pay plus commission and bonuses. Real estate brokers and appraisers tend to be the highest paying positions according to base pay.

What are some jobs in a real estate office?

A typical real estate office can have brokers, real estate agents, an office manager, and real estate clerks.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents.”

  2. “What Is a Buyer's Agent? A Trusted Guide Who'll Help You Find a Home.”

  3. Zillow. “Real Estate Agent vs. Broker: What’s the Difference?

  4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents.”

  5. “Real Estate Agent, Broker, Realtor: What's the Difference?

  6. “Real Estate Clerk Salary in the United States.”

  7. PayScale. “Average Administrative/Office Manager Salary.”

  8. PayScale. “Average Building Inspector Salary."

  9. Glassdoor. “Real Estate Appraiser Salaries.”

  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. "Loan Officers."

  11. Glassdoor. “Loan Underwriter Salaries.”

  12. Glassdoor. “Closing Agents Salaries.”

  13. PayScale. “Average Real Estate Attorney Salary.”

  14. PayScale. “Average Real Estate Analyst Salary.”

  15. Glassdoor. “Property Manager Salaries.”

  16. Glassdoor. “Foreclosure Specialist Salaries."

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