The 9 Best Paying Jobs in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) provide some of commercial real estate‘s most lucrative career opportunities. Compensation for top-tier positions can reach over $500,000 annually.

But beyond the high salaries, working for a REIT also offers strong job stability, varied responsibilities, and promising advancement potential.

This definitive guide provides an in-depth overview of the 9 best paying REIT jobs along with expert insights to help you navigate these rewarding career paths.

A Primer on REITs

Before exploring specific roles, let‘s quickly summarize what real estate investment trusts are and what makes them such a dynamic career choice:

  • Alternative Investment Vehicles: REITs provide exposure to large-scale, commercial real estate without needing to directly purchase properties.
  • Professionally Managed: REIT portfolios receive institutional-quality management from specialized real estate experts.
  • Income Focused: By law, REITs must pay out 90% of taxable earnings as shareholder dividends.
  • Market Accessibility: Publicly traded REIT shares are available on major stock exchanges, providing investment liquidity.
  • Portfolio Diversifiers: Adding REITs to an investment portfolio provides broader asset allocation.
  • Career Springboards: REITs foster growth by continually expanding assets under management, creating ample promotion opportunities.

Now that we‘ve established foundation knowledge on REITs themselves, let‘s explore the highest paying positions available within these dynamic companies:

1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The CEO spearheads the entirety of the REITs business operations, working closely with the executive leadership team to guide corporate strategy and achieve performance goals.

Key Responsibilities

  • Direct the REIT‘s short and long-term strategy
  • Ensure achievement of financial objectives
  • Oversee growth through acquisitions and development
  • Maintain shareholder value and positive investor relationships
  • Supervise executive team members like the CFO, CIO, and COO

Average Annual Salary

According to Nareit data, average CEO compensation reached $4.6 million among the largest REITS, while smaller firms show averages around $700,000. Overall compensation can range from $500,000 to $43 million.


  • Extensive REIT executive experience
  • Proven leadership abilities
  • Commercial real estate expertise
  • Public company or fund management

Based on my experience, those wanting to achieve CEO-status should focus early in their careers on rotating through different REIT divisions – like acquisitions, financing, and asset management – to gain well-rounded operational experience before advancing to executive leadership roles.

2. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

As head of the finance division, the Chief Financial Officer oversees the REIT‘s accounting, reporting, forecasting, treasury functions and relationships with lenders and investors.

Key Responsibilities

  • Oversee cash flow planning
  • Manage accounting and reporting activities
  • Lead budgeting and forecasting efforts
  • Ensure compliance with all financial regulatory requirements
  • Optimize capital structure to support growth

Average Annual Salary

Average reported salaries for REIT CFOs reach $712,000, with total compensation ranging from $300,000 to $3 million+.


  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Public company experience
  • Background in real estate finance

The CFO plays a mission-critical role for any REIT, directing high-level strategic financial planning and investment decisions for the company‘s portfolio. Aspiring CFOs should seek out rotational finance roles early on to build advanced financial modeling and leadership abilities.

3. Chief Investment Officer

The Chief Investment Officer (CIO) heads up the vital Investments division, focused on expanding assets under management through acquisitions and development opportunities that align with corporate strategy.

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop and oversee execution of corporate investment strategy
  • Identify acquisition and development opportunities
  • Perform market research and financial analysis on deals
  • Structure and negotiate transactions
  • Coordinate due diligence and closing processes

Average Annual Salary

Compensation for REIT Chief Investment Officers averages $558,000 with top earners surpassing $3 million in annual total compensation.


  • Background in commercial real estate investments
  • Experience in acquisitions and/or development
  • Financial modeling and valuation abilities

For those seeking the CIO role, focus early in your career on rotating through the vital Investments functions like financial analysis, acquisitions, and development to establish the base knowledge and skills required to strategically oversee a full-scale investment portfolio.

4. SVP of Acquisitions

Head of the acquisitions team, the SVP of Acquisitions spearheads sourcing, underwriting, valuing, and acquiring income-producing real estate assets to expand the REIT‘s holdings.

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop corporate acquisition strategy
  • Oversee the sourcing of potential acquisition deals
  • Perform financial analysis and modeling on opportunities
  • Structure and negotiate deals
  • Coordinate due diligence and closing processes

Average Annual Salary

According to recent data, base salaries for REIT SVPs of Acquisition average $233,000 with total compensation reaching upwards of $250,000.


  • Commercial real estate investment experience
  • Background in financial analysis and modeling
  • Transaction execution abilities

Early career professionals with sights set on leading acquisitions should focus on rotational program roles involving financial modeling, market analytics, and transaction management to establish proficiency across vital competency areas.

5. SVP of Development

The REIT SVP of Development leads the group responsible for executing large-scale development projects across the portfolio, which may include apartments, hotels, warehouses, medical centers, data centers, and more.

Key Responsibilities

  • Oversee ground-up development projects
  • Assemble project team including designers, contractors, and consultants
  • Perform financial feasibilities and ensure project metrics are met
  • Monitor construction progress and coordinate all participants
  • Deliver completed properties on time and budget

Average Annual Salary

Salaries for REIT Development SVPs average $192,000 with top performers earning over $225,000.


  • Prior experience in commercial real estate development
  • Knowledge of construction methodologies
  • Financial analysis abilities

Those aiming for an executive development role should consider starting out in project management capacities rotating through different product types – like multifamily, retail, office, etc. – to establish well-rounded expertise.

6. SVP of Asset Management

The REIT SVP of Asset Management develops and oversees execution of strategic business plans for existing properties in the portfolio to optimize financial performance.

Key Responsibilities

  • Create asset strategies for assigned properties
  • Direct property teams on budgeting, operations, and capital projects
  • Oversee leasing activities and tenant relations
  • Identify value-add opportunities through renovations or repositioning

Average Annual Salary

Average reported base compensation for REIT asset management SVPs is $192,000 with total compensation reaching up to $225,000.


  • Prior asset management experience
  • Knowledge of commercial property operations
  • Financial analysis skills

Early career tracks to the SVP level should focus on property analyst or asset manager roles managing retail, multifamily, industrial assets, etc. to establish specialized expertise in operating commercial real estate.

7. SVP of Property Management

The SVP of Property Management holds responsibility for the effective operations and financial performance of the REIT‘s real estate assets through oversight of the regional property management teams.

Key Responsibilities

  • Provide leadership for property management teams
  • Ensure achievement of property-level budgets and goals
  • Direct capital projects and building maintenance
  • Oversee tenant relations and retention efforts
  • Lead emergency response activities

Average Annual Salary

Average reported salaries for REIT property management SVPs reach $192,000 with top earners surpassing $200,000.


  • Prior commercial property management experience
  • Knowledge of building operations and maintenance
  • Proven leadership and communication abilities

Those aiming for the SVP rank should consider advancing from on-site property manager roles to regional oversight positions where you manage teams across a portfolio of assets. This establishes vital leadership skills.

8. Director of Acquisitions

The Director of Acquisitions leads a team of professionals responsible for identifying potential acquisition deals, conducting financial analysis, negotiating transactions, and ultimately purchasing income-producing properties.

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop annual business plan for the acquisitions group
  • Oversee the sourcing and filtering of deals
  • Perform complex financial modeling and analysis
  • Manage transaction processes from LOI to close
  • Report pipeline activity and progress to executive team

Average Annual Salary

Average base salaries for REIT Acquisition Directors land around $132,000 with total compensation climbing towards $150,000.


  • 3+ years in acquisitions or investments
  • Expert financial modeling abilities
  • Strong negotiation talents

Positioning yourself for leadership of the vital acquisitions function requires mastering the hands-on processes – like modeling, sourcing, valuation, due diligence, closing, etc. – through rotations across an investments group early in your career.

9. Director of Development

The Director of Development leads individual development projects through concept, design, permitting, construction, completion while coordinating project stakeholders and ensuring execution aligns with budget and schedule.

Key Responsibilities

  • Assemble project team of contractors, designers, consultants
  • Oversee permitting, design standards, construcability
  • Provide visibility into progress, budget variances, delays
  • Manage stakeholder communications
  • Deliver completed properties

Average Annual Salary

Industry data shows base compensation for REIT Development Directors averaging $92,000 with top performers earning over $130,000.


  • Commercial real estate development experience
  • Knowledge of design, engineering, construction
  • Proven leadership talents

Rotational program assignments are ideal launching pads where you can master vital development skills – like design management, contractor relations, budgeting, scheduling, etc. – to position yourself for a Director role.

Charting Your Course to a High-Paying REIT Career

As the data and details above demonstrate, REITs offer well-compensated, fast-paced career opportunities across nearly every real estate discipline – from acquisitions to financing to property management.

While the salaries for upper rank jobs are certainly enticing, be prepared to put in the work.

Here are my top tips for securing a spot on the leadership ladder:

  • Gain broad operational experience through rotational programs
  • Master relevant technical skills like modeling, analysis, management
  • Develop team leadership and executive communication abilities
  • Understand what key stakeholders like investors value
  • Demonstrate strong personal accountability for results

Remember, high reward career paths require high levels of dedication, persistence, and continual self-improvement.

For those willing to take on the challenge, a wildly prosperous future awaits!

Let‘s Keep the Conversation Going

Thanks for taking the time to read this comprehensive guide on the highest paying real estate investment trust jobs. I hope the details and insights provide clarity and direction amid your career exploration journey.

Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions around securing rewarding REIT roles or advancing within the industry:

[Your name and contact info]

Here‘s to your continued success!