Right Of Way Agent

Job Duties

Right-of-way agents may negotiate with land owners on behalf of governments and private companies who wish to acquire the private property or gain the rights to use it. They may often investigate the routes or sites needed by their employers, usually with the help of engineers. One of their primary duties is accurately investigating the value of private property. When government acquires private property, the U.S. Constitution may require that they be paid a reasonable sum of money. It is important in these negotiations for the property owners to be offered fair market value for their land. Right-of-way agents prepare estimates of property value and evaluate third-party appraisals. Through this process, their goal is to arrive at a price that represents the fair market value.

Agents sometimes may examine public records to determine who owns or has a legal interest in the land. Agents then open negotiations with these parties, striving for an end result of buying or using the land. When they reach an agreement with the owner, they prepare escrow instructions and secure signatures. If the agent cannot reach a settlement with the landowner, the government or company may take the case to court in order to obtain the property. This is usually a tactic of last resort because of the negative publicity and costs involved. Some right-of-way agents negotiate cooperate with all levels of government and private companies. Sometimes they manage properties that have been acquired but are not needed immediately.

Job Skills

Right-of-way agents may need to have a number of personal qualities to succeed in the occupation. They might need to have excellent communication skills, particularly verbal. They need to be motivated. They should possess tact when dealing with landowners. And they need to be able to make sound business decisions.


According to BLS government right-of-way agents may usually earn between $2,500 and $3,500 per month. Those who reach the journey level can earn between $3,500 and $4,300 per month. Agents whose jobs entail administrative duties may earn between $5,200 and $6,200 per month. They normally work a typical 40-hour work week, but they may be required to put in overtime hours. Most employees receive benefit packages that include paid vacations, sick leave, holidays, retirement, and health insurance.

Training and Education

For government right-of-way agent positions, applicants may need to have at least a 4-year degree, pass a civil service examination, and possess at least 2 years of experience in appraisal work. Those who have taken courses in such topics as law, economics, real estate management, or engineering usually receive preference in the hiring process. Positions at private companies require college degrees, and most jobs are filled by applicants who have work experience in related fields. Private companies usually prefer applicants who have experience in real estate or who have completed real estate courses.

Both types of employers prefer applicants who have knowledge of Federal and State acquisition regulations. Advancement in government agencies usually takes the form of competitive examination or merit system. Private company advancement is usually dependent on the training and skills of the individual employee. Visit this page about trade schoolsfor more information on related careers.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of right-of-way agents is expected to increase faster than the average. Because most agents work in government, employment is dependent on construction budgets. The overall economy is expected to grow at a healthy rate, creating more construction projects and thus more demand for right-of-way agents. Employment in the private sector will increase more slowly than for government jobs. Opportunities will be best for those who have experience in real estate or acquisitions.