Teachers can earn a good living, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the median pay for elementary school teachers was $61,350 in 2021, while high school teachers earned slightly more at $61,820.

But while this is a reasonable sum of money, it's not a fortune -- and it likely won't give teachers enough money to buy most properties outright if they're hoping to invest in real estate.

The good news is, paying cash for properties isn't necessary to get on the property ladder. And teachers -- as well as other middle-class workers -- can find plenty of great ways to include real estate investments as part of a diversified portfolio. Here are some options for how to do that. 

Adult looking at financial paperwork.

Image source: Getty Images.

Invest in real estate without owning properties 

The easiest, most affordable way to invest in real estate is to avoid actually owning properties but get exposure to this asset class in other ways. 

One way to do this is by buying real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are publicly traded like stocks but are companies that own and manage properties to produce revenue. REITs typically pay generous dividends, so they can be a great solution if you don't want to commit to investing large sums but you are drawn to real estate investing as a means of earning passive income

Buy properties with little or no money down

If you want to own physical properties, you don't actually need a ton of money. You can generally make a small down payment and get approved for an affordable loan to finance the remainder of the purchase price.

If you already own a home, you could also get a home equity loan, line of credit, or a cash-out refinance loan to tap into the equity in your existing property and use it to help you purchase an investment property. You'd be putting your own house on the line, but this would be a good solution if you don't have much cash on hand right now. 

Consider buying fixer-uppers

It's often much more affordable to buy a property that needs some work rather than a turnkey property that needs nothing.

If you are willing to put in sweat equity and do some repairs and upgrades yourself, you may be able to buy a place with a low up-front cost and then upgrade it so you can sell it for more than you paid for it or rent it for more money each month. 

Get a partner

If you have the time and the expertise in the real estate market, or you're willing to do some work to repair and upgrade a fixer-upper, you may want to partner with someone else who has more money but less knowledge or time. 

Your equity partner could provide most or all of the money for your investment, and you could do more hands-on work. Just be sure you understand the division of responsibilities up front and have a clear agreement for how any profits will be distributed. 

Which investing approach is best for you?

As you can see, there are many ways to invest in property on a teacher's salary. You'll just need to consider which of these options works the best, given the money, knowledge, and time available to you.