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7 Best Paying Jobs in Real Estate Investment Trusts

Let's talk about the best paying jobs in real estate investment trusts and why you should consider a career in real estate.
Is working for a REIT right for you?

More millionaires have been made in real estate than any other industry. In fact, over 90 percent of the world’s wealthiest people have real estate as one of their largest asset classes. Whether it’s through commercial real estate, rental property investing, or land leases, there’s plenty of opportunity to build wealth through real estate.

One overlooked sector within the real estate industry is real estate investment trusts. Also known as REITs, these investment vehicles offer investors the ability to diversify their portfolio with income-producing real estate holdings.

But behind every successful real estate investment trust lies an experienced team consisting of asset managers, analysts, and associates managing the REIT to continue producing returns for investors. 

Are you looking to work for a REIT this year? Keep reading to find out the best paying jobs in real estate investment trusts and how to launch an exciting career in this dynamic industry.

Why Work for a Real Estate Investment Trust?

Real estate investment trusts are complex companies that invest in income-generating real estate. But why would you want to work for one?
Are there benefits to working for a REIT?

While a career in REITs doesn’t receive as much attention as becoming a real estate agent or investor, there are plenty of benefits you’ll receive when pursuing a career in this field. 

Financial Stability

Real estate investment trusts are known for their long-term stability and continued operation during fluctuating economic periods. Because of this, employees working for REITs often enjoy job security and stable income. 

Career Advancement

Most REITs operate on a merit-based promotion system, meaning top-performers have the ability to work their way up in the organization. Starting in an entry-level position early in your career can lead to better career opportunities down the line within different departments. 

Additionally, gaining experience and skills in REIT management can allow you to negotiate higher pay with competing firms down the line. 

Real Estate Knowledge

There are plenty of benefits that come with working in the real estate industry that can pay off outside of the workplace. Many REIT employees use their real estate knowledge to invest in real estate themselves to build a portfolio of income-producing properties. 

This knowledge can also be beneficial for employees who hope to pivot into other real estate fields like real estate development, asset management, or real estate finance.

Drawbacks of Working for a REIT

Keep in mind the drawbacks of working for a REIT before deciding on pursuing a career in real estate.

While working for a real estate investment trust can be a rewarding and exciting career, there are also some downsides to consider before getting started in the field.

  • Industry Fluctuations: Real estate is a cyclical industry that frequently experiences periods of volatility. Due to this unpredictable nature, some REITs experience significant downturns that lead to layoffs and reduced job security for employees. Additionally, REIT employees who earn commissions may find their income fluctuating during periods of economic downturns. 
  • Regulatory Changes: Real estate is an evolving industry that’s constantly influenced by advances in technology and changing real estate dynamics. This means that regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), change tax laws and compliance policies that can directly affect REITs and their employees.
  • Pressure for Performance: Like all publicly-traded companies, REITs have an obligation to provide a return on investment (ROI) for their investors, which means they’re under intense pressure to achieve strong financial performance and shareholder returns. This pressure often creates a demanding and competitive work environment that isn’t right for everyone. 
  • Long-Term Career Advancement: While working your way up in a REIT is fairly straightforward, it may take longer than anticipated. Entry level employees should expect to put in several years of work with strong job performance before their first promotion into a managerial role. 

Best Paying Jobs in Real Estate Investment Trusts

Let's talk about the best careers in REITs and how to break into this dynamic field.
Let’s talk about the best careers in REITs and how to break into this dynamic field.

Working for a real estate investment trust is attractive for many reasons, perhaps the most attractive being the potential for high earnings. Additionally, working for a REIT is a rewarding career that allows you to understand the real estate industry from a deeper level and work with like-minded individuals with similar career aspirations. 

Here are the best paying jobs in real estate investment trusts this year and their core responsibilities:

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

While the CEO isn’t always the owner of the REIT, they are always in charge of high-level strategy and the direction of the company. They carry out the strategic vision for the company and execute on the overall investment strategy for the firm. 

The main responsibilities of the CEO include overseeing property acquisitions, setting long-term goals for the company, and navigating the various economic cycles in the real estate industry. 

Earnings for CEOs vary depending on the size of the REIT and its financial performance. Many CEOs earn commissions or bonuses paid out when the REIT does well, and others also receive stock options in the company. However, Indeed estimates that top-earning CEOs make over $279,000.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The chief financial officer is the head of financial strategy and investment decisions at the real estate investment trust. They use their expertise to manage investment risk, explore new capital markets, and work with regulators to ensure compliance. 

Most CFOs have extensive experience in finance and have a track record of success in previous financial management positions. To work your way up to CFO, you’ll need to demonstrate your capabilities in financial analysis and advanced financial planning for large corporations. 

Average earnings for CFOs in the United States totals $152,000 with top-earners making upwards of $250,000. Keep in mind that CFOs at large REITs may have the ability to earn far more than these estimates.

Asset Manager

REIT asset managers are responsible for overseeing the growth of real estate assets under management. They primarily spend their time with management teams identifying potential acquisitions and selling properties when necessary.

Additionally, asset managers also have a responsibility to manage finances and evaluate the performance of their investments. They monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and prepare detailed financial reports for senior leadership.

According to Glassdoor, REIT asset managers make up to $154,000 per year in the United States with the ability to earn more with stock options and bonuses.

Leasing Agent

A leasing agent works with REIT management to market properties available on the market and facilitate leasing to tenants. Leasing agents are heavily involved in screening and vetting new tenants to make sure they’re the right fit for the property.

To become a REIT leasing agent, you’ll need in-depth knowledge of market trends and the REITs portfolio of properties. Most leasing agents work their way up after gaining experience as junior leasing agents or assistant property managers. 

Leasing agents have the ability to earn high compensation depending on the size of the REIT and commission structure of their contract. Top-earning leasing agents make about $118,000 with the potential to increase their salary as they gain more experience and assume more responsibilities. 

Investment Analyst

Similar to asset managers, investment analysts evaluate potential investments to calculate return on investment (ROI) and whether acquisitions are profitable for the REIT. They spend their time conducting comprehensive analysis of the current real estate market and future economic trends for the industry. 

Investment analysts are an instrumental part in shaping the REITs portfolio. They use advanced technology tools to design investment strategies and provide insight to leadership teams on which investments to pursue. 

Average salaries for investment analysts in the United States hover around $98,000 with top earners making up to $136,000 or more. Investment analysts working for large REITs can exceed these numbers based on performance and compensation package. 

Real Estate Attorney

All real estate investment trusts assume legal liability when operating rental properties and acquiring new assets. This means that all REITs must have adequate legal representation to protect themselves from disputes and legal issues. 

As a real estate attorney, you’ll be responsible for working with the legal team to handle litigation and navigating legal challenges against the firm. Common legal issues for real estate attorneys involve regulatory disputes, real estate contracts, tenant matters, and property management

Having a strong legal team is crucial for REITs, which is why real estate attorneys are so valuable. Highly-qualified real estate attorneys are compensated well, with average earners making $173,000 and top-earning attorneys making over $210,000 per year. 

ERP Project Manager

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the software and processes that integrate various components of a business. This includes a suite of technology tools that allow businesses to manage core functions of their operations, often in a cloud-based system for company-wide access.

An ERP project manager is responsible for implementing these systems within the organization and making sure it runs smoothly. They oversee the process of selecting ERP solutions and streamlining data management specifically for the real estate industry. 

ERP project managers working for REITs make $132,000 on average with top-earners making up to $163,000 or more. 

Final Thoughts

Real estate investment trusts are misunderstood by many people not involved in the real estate industry. The truth is that starting a career in REITs is a rewarding, and potentially lucrative, path for those with strong work ethic and the determination to succeed. 

Those just getting started in their careers should look for an entry level job at a REIT or similar role within a real estate brokerage, then break into one of the best paying jobs in real estate investment trusts. This way, you’ll be able to demonstrate your experience in real estate and work your way up to senior leadership roles later in your career. 

Related: 5 Entry Level Real Estate Jobs

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