Career switch from Civil Eng. to RE.....anyone done it ?

I graduated college with a degree in Civil Engineering and have been working as a design consultant for about a year. Working with a lot of developers and CRE shops on advising them about construction related stuff.... I got a chance to look at the work CRE shops do and it was very interesting to me, more interesting than the job I do right now and I was looking to make the switch to a cre shop either on the debt or equity side as a analyst. 

Has anyone been in this boat or know how can I make this transition ?, is it even a realistic target given that I never took any formal classes in college related to the work ?

(p.s - I did enroll myself in a certification program for RE investment at MIT, I also took some classes to learn how to build RE fin. models so I do have a good understanding of the work and what goes into it)

I'd appreciate any guidance or advise, thanks

Comments (6)

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CRE Bison Junkie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I did not make the move from Civil Engineering, but I did move on from Electrical Engineering at a major MEP firm in a primary market. I worked in MEP design / construction for 4 years, and had a similar epiphany after getting an inside look at the goings on of major development shops in my city. For what it's worth, I think you're making exactly the right call completing a certificate program first, and that was also my first step.

With that said, the certificate program likely isn't going to be enough to get your foot in the door. I would think of the certificate as a gut check more than anything. It should answer the question "is this really what I want to do?" If the answer is yes, your best bet is going to be moving on for a MSRE or MSRED at a major name university. At least that's what I did. From there I took a job in CRE lending, and after a couple of years of that (with one year overlapping my graduate school studies) I moved to a large RE family office working on acquisitions / development / investments. 

Good luck!

jarstar1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm going to echo what @ said and recommend a proper post-graduate program. MSRED or MSRE both work, as do an MBA which might be better for someone with less experience, typically i've seen that MSRED programs are for people who are further in their career looking to make a switch. Since it's only one year and no summer internship you have to rely more on networking and already knowing the industry to fully transition, an MBA gives you two years, a comparatively much more rigid recruiting process, and is a more clear signal you are looking at making a major career change. 

Beyond that, you should think if debt/equity analyst is really what you are interested in and not development. Not saying it's impossible to make that switch, but those roles are far more finance based and your civil and design background won't be that relevant. A development role would better utilize your current understanding of the physical building and project management skills that go along with it. Obviously you should do whatever you want, I'm just laying it out there that the roles can seem enticing from the outside but the skills to get there and succeed in them are pretty different. 

Pyrus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I moved from civil engineering to real estate acquisition and development. I think it's possible if you show interest to potential employees and get some internship experience.

  • 1
  • Manager in RE - Comm

This is a super common change and it's pretty easy with grad school. Finance as required for this is super easy and knowing a lot of the lingo makes a huge difference. I think people on this forum overestimate the financial knowledge needed and underestimate the "technical" knowledge needed in the space when it comes to knowing how a building works. I did the grad school/MBA route and ended up at a development shop and it worked out for me, I'd encourage it. 

grooter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Industrial Civil Engineer to Industrial Developer is pretty common to see.

struceng, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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