More June 14, 2012

From Military To Real Estate: A Career On Your Terms


We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our service men and women, as well as their families. In addition to those who currently serve, there are also countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen around the world who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It is easy to get so busy in life that we forget to honor our nation’s military, whether currently serving, or those of prior service, but Memorial Day provides a great opportunity for us to do just that.

As a country, we are struggling to gain our footing after some very trying economic times, and although there is no guarantee, the general consensus is that we are finally pulling out of the recession and into some better days. But for those who are approaching their leave from the military, or have recently done so, finding employment as a civilian in these economic times can be very challenging.

It might come as a surprise to some, but one profession that is well suited for former military is real estate. The skills and discipline that are taught to military personnel represent some of the most important qualifications for having a successful career in real estate.

I speak from experience, as a former U.S. Navy Seabee. My time as a Construction Mechanic was amazing, and being part of a specialized force such as the Seabees was invaluable to me. Our motto was “Can Do”, which has stuck with me through many years of civilian life. Whatever struggles life throws my way, I can always dig down and use the skills I acquired from my military service to carry me through to the desired outcome.

The rewards I’ve experienced through my real estate career are far more meaningful than earning a good living (although that is a significant benefit). I have met some truly amazing people, both clients and fellow real estate agents. I have been fortunate enough to work with veterans that have sustained traumatic battle wounds, and I’ve helped retiring officers and families relocating to be near loved ones serving at local military bases. I strongly believe my military background has helped me be a better real estate professional, and given me the ability to help my clients overcome challenges in their pursuit of the American Dream.

One of the biggest benefits of working in real estate is the ability to take control of your schedule. You get to be your own boss, which can be great for former military because we are trained to be disciplined self-starters. You have the support of coaches and a team when you need it, and the opportunity to flex your leadership skills, something that comes naturally to most service men and women.

During my time in real estate, I have also been able to enjoy making a difference in my local community. Every year Windermere offices join forces for our annual Community Service Day and do some amazing things for those who need a helping hand.  We’ve done everything from cleaning up local parks, to volunteering at food banks and other nonprofits that simply need help getting things done. There is a certain sense of pride that comes from being a part of such a great team.

I am proud to be able to call myself a veteran of this great country’s military, and I am honored to work alongside other former military men and women. The military teaches us the importance of communication, discipline, and setting goals, and I am proof that channeling those fine-tuned skills into real estate can lead to a long and prosperous career.

Jim Swanson has been a Realtor since 2007 and works out of Windermere Professional Partners in Tacoma. He can be reached by emailing

To visit Windermere’s Military Services website, please go to: