Maximizing Real Estate Investments Without a Degree

May 04, 2023

When it comes to investing, I don't use much of what I learned in college, but I use the knowledge and insights that I've gained from my mentors every day. So today, I want to talk about my real-world experience versus my collegiate experience and how it all relates to my investing success.

Do You Need a Degree to be Successful in Real Estate Investing?

As someone who has been in the real estate investing game for a while, I get asked this question all the time, “Do you need a degree to be successful in real estate investing?” The short answer is no, you don't. My successes in self-storage investing have been a direct result of how I’ve fine-tuned my approach to learning and education over the years. 

Over the last two decades, the cost of higher education has increased significantly, but the income associated with achieving that higher education has not followed at the same pace. This might leave you wondering whether it's still worth it to get a degree in higher education.

I don't believe that degrees are bad. I don't believe that higher education is bad in any way, shape, or form. I have a degree. I went to college. Of course, there are fields that 100% require you to have a degree, like being a doctor. However, the question remains, “Do you need a degree? Are the outcomes going to be the same? Is it going to be different?”

Independent Learning is Key

The first thing to understand is that by going out and doing it on your own and learning, a degree is not needed. You do not need a degree to get into real estate or entrepreneurship, to build a business, and be successful in many circumstances. A degree is going to do nothing to help you be successful in those fields. The experience you gain from jumping in and learning the ropes is a phenomenal tool in this field.

How To Use A Degree In Real Estate

The second thing to think about is how you would use a degree in these circumstances. People get a degree, then they go get a job working for a startup, a real estate investing firm, a bank where they can learn really, really quickly on the job how to do that and what they want to pursue. Then they can go out on their own, and they can make it.

A degree may be required to get those jobs, and that's how I view the differences. Lots of times, a degree is a simple gateway that is held up by a lot of companies. That gatekeeping mentality is beginning to crumble, as we've seen with Tesla, who just announced that a degree will not be required to work at Tesla.

How Do You Learn?

If you don't get a degree, how do you learn? First of all, there is no specific degree most of the time when you're dealing with investing and entrepreneurship that is going to teach you how to do that thing. Entrepreneurship and investing are fluid and dynamic processes. You learn by doing or you learn from others that are doing.

I have two types of knowledge: static and dynamic knowledge. Static knowledge is foundational. It is the kind of thing that you learn from books, but it's not very applicable. Dynamic knowledge is what you learn by doing, and this is scalable knowledge. This is an applicable knowledge that you can use right away. This is the best kind of knowledge for entrepreneurship and real estate investing.

Mentorship Is Key

This knowledge is much better achieved with a mentor. I was lucky when I got started; I had a great mentor who was my father. He taught me things that I would have never learned within the school system, and it opened my eyes to a different world. Along the way, I understood the value of that, so I added on more and more mentors.

I added more successful mentors that could show me what they've done, what they were currently doing, the pros, the cons, and I could utilize that knowledge to make it applicable for me. I will adamantly say the knowledge that I received from mentors was 10 times more effective than what I ever received in my formal education. There really is no comparison.

Learning the Art of Selling

Learning the art of selling is something that my father taught me. He was the best in his field, selling insurance for large corporations. I followed in his footsteps, and we were brokers who negotiated benefit plans for companies. It was a consultative sell, not just knocking on doors, but working with high-level people to come to conclusions, move products, and increase revenue while lowering overall risk.

This is something I could have never learned in school. They didn't teach me the “art of the sell” or the “art of the deal”. That is a real-world practice that has to be learned on the job. Sales is an essential part of any business, and it requires a particular set of skills that can only be learned through practice and experience.

Understanding the Concept and Application of Value

Another thing that I learned outside the classroom was the concept of value. They taught it in school, but you really don't understand it until you apply it in real-world circumstances. Value is the foundation of any business, and it is the key to success. Understanding the value of your product or service is essential in determining its price, marketing, and overall success.

However, the application of the concept of value is unique to each business and industry. You have to learn it through experience and observation. It's not something you can learn from a textbook or a lecture.

To learn more about investing, I found two great books that I love and recommend to anyone interested in investing: "Big Debt Crisis" by Ray Dalio and "Against the Gods: The Story of Risk" by Peter Bernstein. These books taught me so much that I didn't learn or understand in school about investing risks, market cycles, and overall macroeconomics.

Hacks to Get Your Education Without a Degree

There are many ways to obtain education that are far quicker, better, and much cheaper than getting a formal degree from a school. Here are a few hacks that I have used to get my education without a degree:

  1. Get a job working for a company or someone that is already doing what you're interested in. This way, you can learn from someone who has already been successful in that field.
  2. Find a mentor who can guide you through the process and tell you what to look for and what to avoid.
  3. Use online resources. There are so many free resources available today that you can use to learn about investing, managing a business, and more.

Final Thoughts

So, do you need a degree to be successful in real estate investing or entrepreneurship? The answer is no. A degree is not needed to get into these fields and be successful. In many cases, a degree will do nothing to help you be successful.

However, there are situations where a degree may be required to get certain jobs. In those cases, a degree can be a simple gateway. But that gateway is getting wider all the time. The best way to learn is through experience, practice, and mentorship. Mentors provide you with the dynamic knowledge you need to succeed, and they have the experience and expertise to guide you in the right direction.

So, if you're thinking about getting a degree, ask yourself if it's necessary for your goals. If not, consider learning through experience and finding a mentor who can guide you towards success. Remember, the best education is the one that prepares you for the real world.