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How do you get into property?

Here, we'll find out more about two different pathways into property - namely accredited degrees and apprenticeships.
I’m Joe Doak. I’m Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Development in the Department of Real Estate and Planning within the Henley Business School at the University of Reading. This course, Pathways to Property, is a short course available for young people to do. And we think it’s very important to give young people exposure to the area of real estate and planning because many people just don’t understand what’s involved in it. They usually think it’s about selling houses from their local agents, but in fact, there’s a whole range of activities that occur in real estate and planning, and all the other areas around it. And so it’s quite a diverse and interesting world in which to apply your trade.
One of the nicest things about real estate and planning is the range of subjects that are covered in each programme– from investment, to management, to planning, to economics, to appraisal and investment. So there’s a range of skills. Law, as well, construction, and planning are covered. And so we have to adapt our programme to make sure that people are assessed and tested and develop skills in a range of areas which might involve presentations, role play, but we’ll also be doing essays. We’ll be doing exams. We’ll be doing multiple choice tests as well. So the range is quite wide, and this is true, again, for all programmes that are professionally accredited in surveying or planning.
The other thing to look for in a programme is actually what’s around the programme. Certainly, at Reading, we put a lot of emphasis on the careers support that we provide. And so there’s a lot of activities around careers. We have dedicated career support. And we also have other activities linking in with industry– lots of activities with industry coming in, with us going out to industry. So again, what I would advise people to do when they’re looking for an accredited programme is to ask questions about what other things are provided as part of the package. When I look at a statement, applying for the courses at Reading, I’m looking for– particularly– an interest in the subject.
Given that it’s a three or four year course, it requires a fair amount of commitment. The other thing we’re looking for in a statement is the rounded person. Someone that not only is interested in the academic material, but also, has other activities in their life. They’ve taken on responsibilities which might include sports, or social, or other activities, that will show that they have taken responsibility. That they are not only interested the academic, but also can do other things, as well. To prepare yourself for University, I think it’s very important to read around the subject. You can do this by looking at news items. Reading some of the quality dailies. Some of the magazines that look at these issues.
But also, look at some of the professional press as well, in surveying and planning, which covers some of the relevant issues in more depth. In terms of the jobs that people have done having studied real estate and planning at Reading, it’s quite a wide range. Working on major developing projects across the globe, major office schemes, major mix use schemes like the Olympic Park area. People have also gone into governmental or voluntary sector, working with, maybe community groups, helping them plan and develop their neighbourhoods. So the range of work that people could do on the back of a real estate and planning degree is quite wide, indeed.

Here, we’ll find out more about two different pathways into property – namely accredited degrees and apprenticeships.

Accredited degree

One of the main ‘gateways’ into property as a career is provided by a professionally accredited university programme.  Joe Doak, Associate Professor in Urban Planning and Development, says admissions will be relevant for anyone considering applying for an undergraduate degree in real estate and you can find a list of RICS and RTPI accredited universities and courses. These include the University of Reading courses at the Henley Business School:

Joe also highlights the career opportunities from undertaking an accredited degree and explains why this is therefore a key focus of an annual Summer School hosted at the University of Reading each year.

Joe mentions undertaking some relevant preparatory reading, so it is worth checking out the property sections of the quality daily newspapers and seeking out property magazines like The Estates Gazette, Property Week and similar publications in other countries. A useful general overview of real estate is provided by the latest edition of Reed, R. and Sims, S. Property Development, London: Routledge.


Full-time university study is one, well established, routeway into a property career, but there are others. One of these, available in the UK and other countries, is practice-based apprenticeship schemes. These are run by major companies and involve a combination of work and part-time study.

Apprenticeships offer the advantages of working whilst you study and getting paid for it. You can find out more by going to the Property Needs You Resource Centre and filtering by ‘apprenticeships’.

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Pathways to Property: Starting Your Career in Real Estate

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