Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

The Commercial Real Estate Career Path: An Introduction

The Commercial Real Estate Career Path: An Introduction

Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education with Contributions from Larry Anweiler, Full-Time Faculty
Updated: January 17, 2019

Are you considering a career in commercial real estate sales? Commercial property owners could not sell or lease their office buildings, apartment buildings, shopping centers, and industrial buildings without the help of commercial real estate agents. A commercial real estate agent’s value to property owners and tenants is based on his or her ability to assess the value of commercial properties, develop marketing material, find qualified buyers and renters, and negotiate sales and leases. These agents also help resolve challenges discovered during the closing process and help locate acceptable financing for buyers.

Education and Experience Requirements

Although there is no minimum educational requirement to obtain a real estate license in most states, most general agents have at least a high school degree or its equivalent. However, because of the intricacy of commercial real estate transactions, most employers of commercial agents expect their employees to have at least a bachelor’s degree, along with the traits of successful agents, including independence, interpersonal skills, and negotiating experience. Most property owners also desire these same traits because of the amount of money involved in the average closing. With the markets improving in commercial real estate, job opportunities and salaries may also improve for commercial real estate agents. Many commercial agents also hold a broker’s license.


The earning potential for a commercial agent is much higher than it is for a residential real estate agent, for a few reasons. First of all, the transactions are usually at a higher price point. So your commission on a given sale has the potential to also be higher. Because commercial agents often act as their own broker, they are also more likely to receive 100% of their commission. While commercial agents are usually in for a larger pay day, they may have a bigger gap between checks. That’s because a commercial transaction typically takes longer to close than a residential one.

Looking to sharpen your negotiation skills? Download 17 Essential Tips for Real Estate Negotiation!


The work culture of a commercial real estate agent is not all that different from the work culture of any business professional. The commercial real estate sales business is competitive, and agents are 100% committed to their careers. While there are many people who sell residential real estate part time, there are almost no successful part-time commercial agents. While residential agents have a more personal relationship with their clients, professionalism is the name of the game in commercial real estate sales. It should be noted, however, that personal relationships are important in commercial real estate. In fact, some residential real estate agents move into commercial real estate because of their personal relationships, and you can learn more about that in this article.

Business Hours

For both residential and commercial agents, every day is different. But one key difference between commercial and residential real estate agents is the type of schedule they keep. As a residential agent, you need to be available when your clients are. That means a lot of nights and weekends. As a commercial agent, you’ll conduct the majority of your business during regular business hours.

How to Get Started

Whether it's residential or commercial real estate, if you want a license, you'll need prelicensing education. Kaplan Real Estate has a choice of packages that can get you on your way. Visit our website and select your state of interest to see what's available.