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How to Become a Real Estate Director (A Complete Guide)

Last updated on September 11, 2023

How to Become a Real Estate Director

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Let’s say you’ve been in the real estate industry for many years now…

Or maybe you’re just starting out but already plan on a high real estate position…

Well, one direction you might want to go is to become a real estate director. 

And we’re here to tell you how to become one. 

Get this. 

A real estate director is a leadership role. 

You’ll have to climb through the ranks before you can reach there. 

But if you’re determined, then let’s go over this complete guide on how to become a real estate director.

What Does a Real Estate Director Do?

Okay, before we get into the steps, it’s important to answer this question. 

This way, you’ll know if it’s the role for you. 

Since this is a leadership and management role, except heavier responsibilities as you work with more high-level stakeholders. 

Some real estate director duties include: 

  • Developing, leading, and executing long-term real estate strategies to grow the company.
  • Overseeing all or most of the development processes of big projects — from construction to stabilization.
  • Researching, identifying, and evaluating new developmental opportunities.
  • Negotiating and executing developmental agreements, key contracts, and venture agreements.
  • Assessing the financial viability of potential projects and ventures.
  • Managing due diligence activities such as environmental assessments and compliance, title work, zoning analysis, and other geotechnical studies.
  • Handling the leasing and marketing of key completed projects.
  • Managing the construction process, including the contract selection, negotiation of contracts, and construction progress of key projects.
  • Working closely with design teams to ensure all projects are designed and constructed in accordance with the company standards.
  • Coordinating with in-house departments and external consultants during the entitlement processes.
  • Reviewing financial statements to see the profitability of projects and other undertakings.
  • Recommending strategies to maximize profit and minimize risk.
  • Managing teams in delivering department and team goals and objectives.
  • Managing the disposition of key completed projects.
  • Staying updated on industry trends, best practices, and regulations.


That’s a lot.

But if that sounds like something you want to undertake, then let’s look at the steps on how to become a real estate director…

How to Become a Real Estate Director – The 5 Steps to Success

From the list of duties expected of a real estate director, it’s safe to say that you need to achieve a certain level of education, experience, and professional development. 

So here are the 5 steps on how you can achieve this role:

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Gain Real Estate Experience
  3. Obtain Professional Certifications and Licenses
  4. Gain the proper skill set for a real estate director
  5. Apply for Director-Level Positions

Step #1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Usually, if you want to join real estate, there are no strict requirements for getting a college degree. 

But since you want to advance the corporate ladder, having a significant educational background can help you. 

A lot of real estate directors today have a Bachelor’s degree in these subjects:

  • Real estate
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Finance

You should allow at least 4 years in your timeline to get a Bachelor’s degree.

For an even better chance at making it, you should consider a Master’s degree in: 

  • Business administration
  • Real estate
  • Finance

Of course, you don’t have to achieve this right away. 

You can go through your studies while already working in a lower real estate position. 

Step #2: Gain Real Estate Experience

To become a real estate director, you need to start from the bottom and build your way up. 

It’s a good idea to start your career as a real estate agent or broker. 

With this, you get to learn administrative and operational tasks, how to negotiate transactions, how to deal with clients, and all the basics. 

You can check out this chart on the real estate license requirements for each state. 

From there, you can move to a higher position. 

Maybe you want to become a property manager… 

Or maybe you want to do public housing…

Still, you can choose hospitality real estate. 

Choose a real estate position that you feel will give you the experience you need as a real estate director. 

You can also check with organizations or companies that you want to work for. Look at the qualifications they seek, and get those one by one. 

You’ll probably need around 7 to 10 years of real estate experience. 

Step #3: Obtain Professional Certifications and Licenses

No company is going to hire some random person as their real estate director. 


They’re going to look for the best of the best. 

And this is why it’s important to get professional certifications and licenses that show you are a specialist in the field. 

Trust us. 

Having certifications will enhance your credentials and make you stand out from other applicants later on.

Some of the more recognized certifications for a real estate director include:

  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM)
  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)
  • Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (CRETS) 

Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM)

The CCIM Certification is the commercial real estate’s global standard for professional achievement. For you to have this certificate, you must complete extensive education of up to 200 classroom hours and other professional achievements. 

Certified Property Manager (CPM)

Meanwhile, the CPM Certification signifies that you are an expert in real estate management. This means you are highly experienced in managing employers, owners, sellers, and even investors. 

Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (CRETS)

The CRETS Certification is given to individuals who have shown capabilities in team development, leadership skills, and financial expertise. Having this certificate will be a nod to your preparedness in managing people and handling bigger responsibilities.

And these are just the most recognized ones. 

You can get other certifications and licenses to show that you know a lot and so will be a great real estate director. 

Step #4: Gain the Proper Skill Set for a Real Estate Director 

What you want to achieve is a progression in not just your titles, but also in your skill set. 

And yes, gaining experience and getting certifications and licenses will help improve your skills. 

But as you slowly climb up the ranks, you have to be eager and vocal in developing the following skills in any situation:

  • Financial Analysis
  • Leadership and Team Management
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Strategic Decision-Making
  • Acquisition 
  • Asset Management
  • Property Development

Always look for ways to improve these areas — whether it’s from your real estate work or your personal life. 

Step #5: Apply for Director-Level Positions

Now that you have the education, experience, certifications, and the right skills, you can apply for a director-level position. 

You can apply to your current company.

This is great since they already know you and your work ethic. As well as your efforts to become a real estate director. 

OR, you can look for other employment opportunities in property management and development firms, real estate brokerages, real estate services companies, and even financial firms.

Whatever type of real estate director you want to be, find a company that offers that. 

And when you do, make sure to give them the best resume you have. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Directors

How Much Do Real Estate Directors Earn?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a real estate director is around $125,950 a year. This can range from $18,500 up to $219.500 (as of June 2023).

Of course, your salary will vary on many factors. These include your education and professional experience, your certifications and skills, and even your tenure.

The location also affects your salary.

ZipRecruiter gives you an idea of which cities pay higher versus the national average. 

Check if your city is on this list!

How to Become a Real Estate Director

Overall, you can expect a real estate director to earn BIG. 

It is one of the highest-paying real estate roles in the US. 

What Are the Important Skills and Qualities Real Estate Directors Possess?

To become a successful real estate director, you need to possess the following:

  • Extensive Real Estate Knowledge – This might seem pretty obvious. Real estate directors need to have a strong understanding of industry trends, property valuation, legal frameworks, and investment analysis. Of course, you should also be well-versed in property management and acquisitions, which you should acquire in your earlier work years. 
  • Good Project Management Skills – Since you will be leading bigger real estate development projects and teams, you need to be a good project manager. From planning, design, construction, and marketing of projects, you will need to give directions and call the big decisions.
  • Strong Negotiation Skills – You’ll be working with more stakeholders, and most of the time, they will also be top managers and/or investors. You need to be able to discuss, manage, and resolve conflicts and keep good relationships.
  • Strategic Thinking – Now, you will need to have clear visions, aligned objectives, and sound judgment to execute the company’s goals. You need to be able to properly assess opportunities, spot risks, and identify trends.  
  • Good Network – Having a good network helps especially when you’re in a high position. As you climb up the ladder, it’s essential to be part of real estate organizations and associations and to keep close ties to your investors, clients, and internal partners.

How Many Years of Real Estate Experience Do You Need to Become a Real Estate Director?

There’s no exact number as to how many years of experience you need. 

However, judging from the time it takes to finish a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, climb up the real estate ladder, get certifications, gain skills, and all that — we’d say you need around 7 to 10 years. 

With these many years in the industry, you will receive the knowledge and skill set to prepare you for higher management roles. 

Just make sure that within these years, you have experience in managing a team.

To help you prepare further for your application, here’s what usual job postings’ requirements look like:

  • At least a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate, Business, Business Administration, or any related field (Master’s degree highly preferred)
  • 10+ years experience in the real estate industry with at least 5 years in a management role
  • Proven track record of successful real estate projects
  • Has a real estate license
  • CCIM or other professional certifications
  • Experience working with public-private partnerships
  • Familiarity with zoning regulations and land use planning
  • Strong Microsoft Office know-how
  • Leadership and consensus-building skills
  • Familiarity with technical drawings and construction fundamentals


So that is how to become a real estate director. 

Yes, the journey is long and will require a lot of time and effort. 

But once you get to the top, you’ll see just how rewarding it is. 

And we’re not just talking big salaries. 

You’ll also get to enjoy the senior management role. 

Whether you’ve already spent several years in the real estate industry and want to move up…

Or you’re just getting started…

If you want to become a real estate director, then go ahead and follow these 5 steps. 

Good luck!

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