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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).

Quick facts: Commercial developer or residential builder
2019 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
Source CEL and Associates, Inc.

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.

How to become a commercial real estate developer or residential builder

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.

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 in 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.

  • Appraisers and assessors of real estate
  • Construction manager
  • Property, real estate, and community association manager
  • Real estate sales agent
  • Urban and regional planner

Education and resources

Access courses and resources to learn about green building and sustainability concepts related to commercial development or residential building.

Online courses

Stay up to date on the latest developments in green building through access to online courses with an annual subscription to the USGBC course catalog.

Role on a LEED project

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

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