Career choice: Technology/Business/Accounting vs Construction/Real Estate

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harrylynn
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I live in London and will graduate in June with BSc Accounting and Finance. I have a strong interest in both real estate/construction and technology. I will soon hold passes in 9 out of 13 exams from ACCA and CIMA Adv Dip MA title so could call myself a finalist in both qualifications. I need to stress that I have no interest in tax.

Due to the current economic climate, I plan to stay a bit longer in school and pursue a masters degree. One option is computing and information systems. I would rather become an IT consultant, data analyst/engineer, business intelligence and systems analyst, finance systems implementation specialist etc. than a software engineer or tester writing code all day. I feel like that could be a good fit as I could use my accounting/business knowledge and shift into technology which is a growing field.

On the other hand, I have an interest in real estate/construction. For my research project, I analysed financial statements and strategy of several big property developers specialising in student housing. That is my big aspiration to run a company like that in 15 or 20 years from now and putting a residential or commercial estate on a purchased piece of land which could be further sold or managed. I plan to start property investing as soon as I get my graduate job and start making more money. Therefore, I also consider MSc Real Estate Finance and quantity surveying qualification.

In my research, I came across quantity surveying which could be attainable if I went for a postgraduate diploma or conversion masters, but I am wondering whether it would be overkill in my case. It is, in fact, a construction role even though sometimes called a 'construction accountant'. Quantity surveyors seem to be on great packages, contracting daily rates and projects could be based anywhere in the world. Still, the most senior roles such as commercial manager seem to mostly go to people with a three-year bachelor so I would be in disadvantage, I think.

There is also general practice surveying now split into several specialisms but I apart from graduate schemes at companies like JLL or CBRE, I didn't come across many job offers or contracting opportunities. I read on some forum that general practice on average pays more than quantity surveying. However, the thread was started 15 years ago, and it seems to be heavily dependent on a specialism now (commercial surveyor earns more than a residential surveyor and quantity surveyors are somewhere between the two). I think it's mostly real estate asset management in finance inflating the average numbers.

Any advice appreciated

Cheers
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MindMax2000
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I kind of have looked into all 3 myself, so I might add my own comments.

Whilst IT would be the coming force that would shape how businesses are run, bureacracy and office politics will more or less deter this from happeneing. Good luck convincing the managers to think otherwise. To study most of what you have listed out, I don't think you necessarily need a degree, considering the fields change year by year, and you could do a professional qualification that's more specific and a lot cheaper (some areas don't even require you to have a qualification). Having said that, I have no experience in this area, so you might want a second opinion.

In terms of real estate development and conversions, I'd go for this type of degree if you seriously need to do a master's, although your employer will raise questions to why you did the master's when it's not congruent with your intentions with your first job. (Even accounting jobs in the sector would not require you to have a master's). If you want control of your own development, you will be working with a team, each personnel with lots of experience for the particular type of property. If you want to finance such a development, I don't think you would even need a degree for it, but you will need to know the right people (I've seen people finance their own property deals). If you want to switch to quantity surveying, the employer won't question your motives as much. I'm presuming you're also looking at RICS approved courses.

If you intend to do both ACCA and CIMA, the word is that you should do ACCA first before completing CIMA, as you get more exemptions that way, even though they're more or less the same qualification except for a few modules. It's a shame you don't have a strong interest in tax, considering how important it is in the real estate sector (and possibly in the tech sector as well).
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harrylynn
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(Original post by MindMax2000)
I kind of have looked into all 3 myself, so I might add my own comments.

Whilst IT would be the coming force that would shape how businesses are run, bureacracy and office politics will more or less deter this from happeneing. Good luck convincing the managers to think otherwise. To study most of what you have listed out, I don't think you necessarily need a degree, considering the fields change year by year, and you could do a professional qualification that's more specific and a lot cheaper (some areas don't even require you to have a qualification). Having said that, I have no experience in this area, so you might want a second opinion.

In terms of real estate development and conversions, I'd go for this type of degree if you seriously need to do a master's, although your employer will raise questions to why you did the master's when it's not congruent with your intentions with your first job. (Even accounting jobs in the sector would not require you to have a master's). If you want control of your own development, you will be working with a team, each personnel with lots of experience for the particular type of property. If you want to finance such a development, I don't think you would even need a degree for it, but you will need to know the right people (I've seen people finance their own property deals). If you want to switch to quantity surveying, the employer won't question your motives as much. I'm presuming you're also looking at RICS approved courses.

If you intend to do both ACCA and CIMA, the word is that you should do ACCA first before completing CIMA, as you get more exemptions that way, even though they're more or less the same qualification except for a few modules. It's a shame you don't have a strong interest in tax, considering how important it is in the real estate sector (and possibly in the tech sector as well).
Thank you for sharing this MindMax2000!

Regarding real estate and conversions, I was indeed looking at RICS-approved courses both in quantity surveying and real estate finance as such are usually required to jump on a graduate scheme. I had no idea about this career path when I was applying and who knows - I could be graduating with a different degree today!

I came up with an idea to pursue a master's in computing science after reading on American Reddit how well accounting and information systems pair up together contrary to just an accounting degree on its own. It was a natural choice for me to have a closer look as I could be more attractive to recruiters. There are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs available as well. I've seen many people on the SR who found good jobs after graduating and highly recommended it. Today I know that BSc Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) was the course I should have seriously considered.

It seems that you have similar interests to me - can I ask you which route you eventually chose and what you end up doing? Are you content with your choice?
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MindMax2000
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I started off with accounting, but I was interested in property investment for extra invome as opposed to going into it as a career. I met a number of people along the way. The accounting helps a bit, but it doesn't help with a lot of the other aspects of the investment - a lot of which involves checking and liasing with dozens of people. Surprisingly, you don't need to know that much about accounting in order to have your own property developed and oftentimes it's kind of straightforward unless you intend to build skyscrapers.

Currently, I'm thinking of changing careers (accounting did not have enough challenging maths and the subject wasn't complex in the way I thought it would be) and going into scientific/engineering research involving physics, maths, and chemistry. As programming was involved, I looked into the professional qualifications for it, so I can avoid doing the computing modules at uni until I reach PhD level.

The thing you have to be aware of when it comes to the advice from Americans is that the advice might not translate over to the UK, unless you intend to work in the US instead. Recruiters in the UK and US will value things differently, and the job market dynamics are very different in some sectors.
A lot of the US property finance strategies might also not be valid in the UK. Believe me, if I was buying property in the US, I'll be having a ball.

Having said that, the knowledge you pick up from a computer science degree will be invaluable irrespective. Sometimes though, I wondered whether it makes more sense to learn the things you need outside of uni for computer science, since a lot of the material will be outdated very quickly with the rate things change and a lot of the material tend to be widely available for free. As far as I know, employers in both the US and UK value experience with what you have done with your computing knowledge than what degree you got.

RICS should be recognised in the US, but the information I have looked online doesn't necessarily say it's definite (it's recognised globally though, meaning you should be able to use the qualification in most places in the world).
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timleebcu
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(As course leader for real estate at Birmingham City, I'm biased but ...)
I think real estate gives you a wider range of options, eg: when thinking of RICS pathways to chartered surveyor status there are multiple routes possible, also real estate is rather more involved with managing (and making money from) existing buildings, as well as development sites and so I'd argue that there's more real estate work out there irrespective of what the economy is doing (buildings still need managing eve when no new development is happening)
Here is the annual salary survey from the RICS https://www.rics.org/globalassets/ri...ary-survey.pdf on p.9 you can see median salaries by sector.

I don't know the requirements for becoming a chartered account but it seems you're not far away and so it might make sense to try and get that sorted before moving on.
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