Getting into Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate is a non-stop, exhilarating, evolving, dynamic industry — miss a beat and you’re left in the dust.

By definition, commercial real estate is any property owned to produce income. It includes office, industrial, retail, mixed-use, medical office, entertainment and educational facilities, but not residential housing. It also includes vacant land that will eventually be leased or developed.


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Introduction to the Real Estate Industry

Commercial real estate is any property owned to produce income, including office, industrial, retail, mixed-use, medical office, entertainment and educational facilities, but not residential housing. It also includes vacant land that will eventually be leased or developed.

Visit the NAIOP Terms and Definitions Glossary for detailed descriptions of property types, development terms, building material definitions, lease and transaction terminology and more.

Industry Careers and Definitions

Commercial real estate comprises a variety of professionals and expertise. Below is a sampling of careers in the industry.


An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings.To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose.

The professional requirements for architects vary from location to location. An architect's decisions affect public safety and thus the architect must undergo specialized training consisting of advanced education[6] and a practicum (or internship) for practical experience to earn a license to practice architecture. Practical, technical, and academic requirements for becoming an architect vary by jurisdiction though the formal study of architecture in academic institutions has played a pivotal role in the development of the profession.

Source: Wikipedia, October 2023.

Asset Manager

A real estate asset manager is someone who maximizes property investments for both investors and owners. The practice of asset management is an example of passive investing, where a person makes an investment but turns the decision-making over to someone else. The asset manager is the decision-maker and usually receives fees for their services.

Source: Indeed, June 2022


Real estate development, or property development, is a business process, encompassing activities that range from the renovation and re-lease of existing buildings to the purchase of raw land and the sale of developed land or parcels to others. Real estate developers are the people and companies who coordinate all of these activities, converting ideas from paper to real property. Real estate development is different from construction or housebuilding, although many developers also manage the construction process or engage in housebuilding.

Source: Wikipedia, August 2023

Land Planner

A land planner develops blueprints for land development. It’s their job to analyze recently acquired rural and urban land to ensure that all land use plans are safe, efficient, and environmentally-friendly. As a land planner, your duties include creating development proposals, processing zoning permits, and mapping out land use logistics. A land planner works closely with land developers, government officials, and community members. To become a land planner, you need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in environmental or urban planning and work experience working with land developers.

Source: ZipRecruiter, October 2023

Introduction to Developing Leaders

Developing Connections. Developing Leaders.

NAIOP's Developing Leaders program is the catalyst young commercial real estate professionals need to propel their careers to the next level. NAIOP provide the tools, networking and resources needed to gain that competitive edge. If you're a commercial real estate professional who's 35 or under, your DL community can take you from where you are now, to where you want to be!

Get Connected

Ready to engage? NAIOP’s dedicated Developing Leaders section for details on News and Connections, DL Events and Awards, and how your local NAIOP chapter can grow its DL program.

Learn More

Visit Developing Leaders for more for information!