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Commercial developer or residential builder

Commercial real estate developers direct the development of commercial properties (office buildings/parks, retail centers, schools, hospitals, government buildings, etc.), and residential builders oversee the development of residences of all types (single-family homes, entire neighborhoods, multi-family complexes).

Source CEL and Associates, Inc.
Quick facts: Commercial developer or residential builder
2020 Median Pay $>100,00 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2019 N/A
Job Outlook, 2019-29 N/A
Employment Change, 2019-29 N/A

The developer and builder share a similar role, in that they oversee the project from start to finish: selecting a site, lining up financing, overseeing design and construction, and managing or selling a property. The developer or builder is responsible for forming a team of professionals to implement his or her vision within a certain budget and timeline, and following applicable codes, ordinances, and policies.

It is often the developer or builder who makes the decision to incorporate green features and certify the project using a third-party rating system like LEED. While many tasks are delegated for implementation, it is the developer or builder who sets goals related to the presence of sustainability, equity, health, and wellbeing components. The developer or builder is ultimately responsible and accountable for determining which green building strategies will help the project achieve its goals.

Role on a LEED project

How to become a commercial real estate developer

There is no single path to becoming a real estate developer, but certain areas of expertise tend to funnel into the profession. Construction, architecture, law, finance, urban planning, and established real estate professionals (commercial or residential) can all get into real estate development with the proper knowledge and preparation. You should plan to get your real estate license. It’s also helpful to have a bachelor’s degree in real estate, business, finance, or a related field.

How to become a residential builder

Likewise, residential builders can come from many backgrounds, but a bachelor’s degree in construction science and experience as a construction laborer or construction manager will provide the technical knowledge to communicate with contractors such as MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers. A residential builder is typically running a business, so education or experience with business, finance, management, and marketing is also beneficial. Many states require a contractor’s license to operate as a residential builder. 

The ability to plan and organize projects, general knowledge of real estate, design, construction and/or operations, and an entrepreneurial mindset are all important skills to become a real estate developer or residential builder. Important skills for both professions include critical thinking, communications, decision-making, quality assurance, math, and active listening.

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