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5 Tips to Start Your Career in Commercial Real Estate Development

Investing in real estate is a smart decision, no matter your industry or level of expertise. But to build a career as a commercial real estate developer, you’ll need to dedicate time and energy to honing your skills and making industry connections. This guide from A Plus Installation helps you get started.

Earn Professional Credentials

There’s no specific degree to earn the title of commercial real estate developer, but there are requirements for different aspects of the role. For example, you will need to acquire a real estate license for your state (or in multiple states) to be able to sell properties or help buyers purchase them.


Real estate agents must complete educational courses in real estate topics, then pass an exam to earn licensure, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Afterward, you must renew your license per your state’s requirements.


Though not required, developing other skills is also helpful for navigating real estate purchases.

Hone Your Business Skills

If you’re not already involved in real estate or commercial development, learning more about the industry is a must. For example, you might work as a real estate agent and network with professionals, learning from their examples. Working in a commercial real estate developer’s office could also be a smart starting point.


Pursuing a degree in real estate, business administration, construction management, or even marketing can help you build a career in real estate development. Many courses, whether university-level or otherwise, offer networking opportunities, too.


Joining a national organization, such as the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), also offers resources and education to build your career. Events offer networking opportunities, and additional certificates and education may give you an edge.

Develop a Team

As a developer, there are many things you need to do yourself. However, having a knowledgeable team is critical for completing projects on time and to spec. You might work with an attorney, architects, civil engineers, and other real estate brokers.


Your team will help with finding property information, connecting with clients, marketing projects and properties for sale, and more. When working with a team, whether full-time employees or contractors, you’ll need to complete tax paperwork and other employment documents.


For employees, you must pay social security, medicare, and other taxes. With contractors, keep detailed records of work completed and review whether you need to submit 1099s based on the payments.

Keep Detailed Documentation

Contracts may not be the most exciting part of commercial real estate development, but they’re a necessary step. Adhering to laws and local ordinances is crucial, but so is including all relevant details for your clients and team.


Maintaining excellent documentation, in addition to legally binding contracts, is crucial. A free PDF editor tool lets you add text, notes, highlights, and more, without sending tons of emails or detailed notes separate from your documents.


Keep files organized in hard copy plus digital formats for easy access and sharing. Experian recommends encrypting digital financial records and securing hard copies in safe deposit boxes or a fireproof safe.

Establish a Business Structure

Business formation is another essential piece of building a commercial real estate development career. Registering as an LLC separates your finances from the business. It also provides tax benefits that can save you money on company expenses.


States have different requirements for business formation, so check your local rules before proceeding. Using a formation service is often the simplest and most affordable method for submitting business formation paperwork.


From earning various credentials to forming an LLC, becoming a commercial real estate developer can take time and resources. But spending time building industry connections and a solid business structure will only benefit your long-term career.

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