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How to Become a Property Manager in 3 Basic Steps

July 16, 2019

It’s never too late to make a career move, especially if you’re interested in the real estate business.

Although the realtor career path is the most well known in the industry, the job opportunities in real estate go far beyond just selling property. If you have experience with management or customer service and are interested in real estate operations, a job as a property manager could be the right fit for you.

It’s true that property managers manage property (try saying that three times fast), but that’s not all they’re responsible for. They’re also in charge of marketing their listings, finding tenants, scheduling repairs, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of their building(s). A career in this space can be incredibly rewarding, but before you can earn the title, there are several steps you’ll need to take.

In this article, we’ll lay out the exact path you need to follow in order to kickstart your career as a property manager. By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding real estate career in no time.

Steps to become a property manager

If you’re looking to make a career switch to property management, now is the right time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for property and community managers is projected to grow 10% over the next five years. Joining a growing industry is a smart move for any job seeker.

how to become a property manager in 3 stepsThe steps below provide a general outline of what you’ll need to do in order to seek employment as a property manager.

Step 1: Identify the minimum requirements

Some states have specific requirements that must be met in order to legally become a property manager. For example, almost all states require that property managers earn a real estate license. Many essential property management tasks are considered to be real estate activities, so having a strong educational background in real estate is crucial to your success.

To get your license, you’ll need to enroll in an in-person or online real estate license school to take classes that prepare you for the licensing exam. The coursework covers real estate fundamentals, as well as more specialized topics such as real estate laws and contract clauses.

TIP: Want to earn your real estate license but not sure where to start? Head to G2 to read unbiased user reviews on the different online real estate license school programs before you enroll.

Read reviews of Real Estate License School software, FREE. Learn more →

After checking the licensing requirements, you’ll also want to be sure you meet minimum education requirements that are standard in your local job market. Some companies will hire qualified candidates with a high school degree or equivalent, but most are looking for a bachelor’s degree in business, real estate or a related field. Be sure to browse local job boards to see what employers are looking for. Having a college degree or earning a real estate license will impact your journey to becoming a property manager significantly, so be sure to do your research to see which rules apply to you.

Step 2: Get certified

In addition to having a degree and/or a real estate license, you’ll also want to look into property management certifications. Getting a certification isn’t required, but it will give you an edge over other candidates when you start applying for jobs.

Types of property management certifications

Specialized certifications are administered by a variety of different property management organizations. Having a certification shows potential employers that you’re serious about being an expert in your field, plus you’ll qualify for member-only benefits at the organization. These benefits will vary from one organization to the next, but they typically include perks such as free professional development courses, conferences, and a network of like-minded professionals.

Below, we’ve listed several popular property management organizations and the certifications they offer.

The Institute of Real Estate Management

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) offers four types of property management certifications:

  • Certified Property Manager (CPM) is the standard certification.
  • Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) is for residential property managers.
  • Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM) is for commercial property managers.
  • Accredited Management Organization (AMO) is for real estate management firms.

The Building Owners and Managers Association International

The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) is an organization that serves the commercial real estate industry. They offer one primary certification:

  • Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP) is for commercial property managers in the early stages of their real estate career.

The National Association of Residential Property Managers

The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) serves the residential property management community. The certifications they offer are for more experienced property managers seeking continued education.

  • Residential Management Professional (RMP) for property managers that have experience managing at least 100 units over a two-year period.
  • Master Property Manager (MPM) is for property managers who have already obtained an RMP and have experience managing at least 500 units over a five-year period.
  • Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC) is for residential property management firms.

These are just three examples of professional property management organizations that offer certification courses for individuals looking to take their education and expertise to the next level.

Step 3: Seek out property management job listings

The final step is to officially kick off your job search. Build a resume that reflects all the work you did in the previous steps and highlights any important soft skills you have. With zero previous property management experience, you want to start out by looking for associate or assistant property manager job listings. As an associate, you will report directly to a senior level property manager and be able to learn from them directly on the job. Before you know it, you’ll have enough experience under your belt to start tackling more advanced tasks on your own.

In the digital age, many companies are using property management software to help run and maintain their daily operations. Candidates with previous experience using these types of solutions are in high demand, but showing you have the ability to learn how to use these tools quickly will also help you during the interview process. To familiarize yourself with the space and explore different solutions, check out property management software on G2.

See the Easiest-to-Use Property Management Software →

What’s next?

Property management is a specialized sector of the real estate industry that is showing no signs of slowing down. Now that you know what it takes to become a property manager, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to take the plunge. If you build your experience on top of a strong foundation in real estate education, you’ll be on your way to a long and successful property management career.

Property management not your thing? Learn how to become a real estate agent instead.


How to Become a Property Manager in 3 Basic Steps Curious to learn how to become a property manager? Follow these 4 steps to jumpstart your career in property management in no time.
Izabelle Hundrev Izabelle is a Partner Marketing Specialist at InStride and a former content specialist at G2. Outside of work, she is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel. (she/her/hers)

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