Careers in the built environment (real estate)

Job roles in this sector are becoming more multidisciplinary in response to the impact and use of technology (eg, smart cities), as well as the social changes to the way we work and live following the pandemic. The relationship between the built environment and our health and wellbeing has come into focus, and has become a key consideration in the research, planning, and design of buildings and cities.

A drive to create a more inclusive workforce, including attracting more women, has seen companies outlining their commitment to diversity, with sector-wide campaigns, initiatives, and events highlighting this important challenge facing the industry

What is a career in the built environment?

The built environment covers areas including urban design, planning, surveying, and property. Increasingly known as the real estate sector, it is about so much more than buildings and surveying! 

LSE graduates can be found working across a variety of roles focusing on real estate and urban planning. This might involve, for example, working out the best finance for a deal, planning for a new development or assessing development potential, managing the planning process, selling real estate assets, liaising with architects, or looking at the sustainability of building design and resource use. 

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

There are opportunities to work not just in commercial and residential property companies but also across a range of organisations and sectors.

  • Large property companies – classed as full-service firms, work across a range of markets. Typically based in London and other major centres, these firms are often global, eg, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, Lendlease, Savills, Avison Young, Gensler and Knight Frank. Many offer general graduate schemes as well as schemes in surveying.
  • Management consultancies – increasingly work in the property and built environment space, eg, Deloitte has a real estate team, combining property services with financial and business advisory; PWC has a Cities and Urbanisation team, and KPMG have a real estate advisory practice. Some firms offer general entry routes, others will be looking for a relevant master's and/or experience. Outside of management and planning consultancies, there are several other consultancies within the sector. These include daylight and sunlight, transport (such as Momentum), and work that focusses particularly on project management. 
  • Multi-disciplinary or integrated engineering consultancies – work across the built environment in areas including infrastructure and transport. Typically global in focus, eg, Amey, Mott MacDonald, Arup and Atkins. Graduate schemes are available in areas including commercial, project management, consultancy, surveying, business advisory, economics and policy, GIS, urban design and town and transport planning.
  • Owners/occupiers (users) – including local authorities, Network Rail and the NHS, and in the commercial sector, large retail banks and retailers including Tesco. Many companies have property-related graduate schemes. 
  • Real estate finance/investment – either within broad asset classes, including real estate, or in more niche companies offering specialised roles, eg, BNP Paribas Real Estate, Eastdil,  and Värde.
  • Housing – includes house builders, property developers and property management companies. Social housing companies like Southern and Peabody are some of the largest new home builders. There are also smaller, newer companies like Pocket Living, Urban Intelligence, and The Collective typically offering niche roles and specialisations.


What can I do?

There are a huge number of different job roles in this sector. We've outlined roles that are often of interest to LSE students with links to where you can find more information. If you can, try to talk to someone who's doing the jobs you're interested in, so you can get a real flavour of what it's like. 

  • Chartered surveyor – activities relate to the management, purchase, sale or leasing of land and property, as well as valuing and surveying property. Qualification involves completing the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The RICS 'What is surveying?' page provides further information.
  • Quantity surveyor – manages building and projects costs, from the initial calculations to the final figures. Works either for the client or the contractor. The role has a strong project management component. Check out the Prospects Quantity surveyor job profile.
  • Property manager – involved in the general operation, maintenance, and administration of properties. Works for organisations that own or lease properties, eg, retailers, high street banks and large public sector organisations like the NHS, etc. Property Personnel gives a useful overview of a career in property management.
  • Real estate finance analyst – could work in-house, in investment banking, corporate finance or a specialist real estate private equity organisation. Role may require financial modelling skills.
  • Town and regional planner – focusses on how towns, cities etc. are built, improving sustainability and community living spaces. The work can cover areas including planning policy, urban design, environmental planning, development management, regeneration and heritage. The Royal Institute of Town Planners (RTPI) provides further information about different roles.
  • Transport planner – works on policies, projects and plans relating to all kinds of transport systems, including road and rail networks, pedestrian systems and air travel. The Prospects Transport planner job profile provides further details.
  • Project manager – delivering projects on time and to budget, roles are common across the engineering and property sector and are often open to a range of degree disciplines. Check out the Prospects Project manager job profile.
  • Planning and development surveyor – takes a broad perspective and provides clients with advice on development and investment choices. The Prospects Planning and development surveyor job profile provides useful information.
  • Housing manager – manages housing and related services, working for housing associations, local authorities, charities, or private sector organisations. The Chartered Institute of Housing offers a detailed breakdown of different roles, and the Prospects Housing manager/officer job profile tells you more.
  • Estate agent – values and markets properties. The larger estate agencies often have graduate schemes. The Prospects Estate Agent profile provides further details.

How can I get there?

For some technical roles such as land acquisition, surveying and planning, a relevant, accredited degree is often required. However, for exceptional candidates it is possible to gain entry without an accredited degree, with the employer sponsoring you to study an accredited master's course instead.

A genuine enthusiasm to work in the real estate industry and commercial awareness are vital. Gaining experience and building your network is key across this industry, which is generally built on relationships

If you're looking to gain experience

While some of the larger firms offer insight days and structured internship schemes, with closing dates typically around Easter or sooner, most companies expect direct or speculative applications. Where a formal internship scheme is not on offer, look for informal ways of gaining work experience. Local planning departments or smaller property firms can be a rich source of opportunities.

If you're early on in your career

For new graduates, property offers a range of professional accreditation routes and career paths. The RICS and RTPI accredited APC is the main professional development route, offering a range of different pathways. Graduate scheme deadlines are typically October to December. Specialist roles and opportunities with smaller companies are advertised all year round on an ad hoc basis.

If you have more experience

Career paths and opportunities are varied, so use LinkedIn to network with alumni working at firms you are interested in. There's a strong network within the sector, including GREG, LSE's Global Real Estate Group, which hosts events and talks for alumni.

If you're changing career

While a relevant postgraduate course may be a prerequisite for some career areas, in others you may identify a direct entry route related to relevant skills gained in another sector, for example transferring your skills from banking across to a specialist finance role in real estate.

Not sure what to do next?

We’re here to talk over your career plans with you. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at, so don’t feel you have to have it all worked out. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in ‘built environment’?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can work with you on your journey.


  • Careers in Real Estate and Property alumni event (keep an eye on CareerHub)
  • Real Estate Skills seminar (keep an eye on CareerHub)
  • External: Built Environment Networking events


LSE Careers resources:

External resources:

Jobs and opportunities

  • Targetjobs - Construction and property – offers careers advice and a useful list of graduate jobs in property, with a focus on surveying and other commercial roles.
  • Property Week – events and valuations from the commercial property market covering property investment, residential and commercial. See Property Week Jobs for vacancies.
  • Urban Design Jobs – a membership organisation with over 1000 members with a keen interest in the quality of life in cities, towns, and villages.
  • Women in Property – works to promote women in the industry and offers news and events. Also has a careers page.
  • Planner Jobs – specialist site for sectors including town planning and conservation.
  • Bespoke Careers – job roles across property and construction.Company websites are a great source of sector information and a useful way of developing your commercial awareness and understanding of the sector. Examples include Deloitte’s Real Estate Predictions, KPMG’s global property survey and Knight Frank’s Global property market insight.
  • Looking directly on company websites at the ‘careers’ or ‘work for us’ pages is also a good source of finding vacancies.
  • Recruitment consultancies specialising in real estate include Macdonald and Company which has a global focus including offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the US, and Africa.


To discuss your options in this sector or chat through your plans so far, book an appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub.