How To Become A Property Manager: The Ultimate Guide

Key Takeaways


If you’re looking to grow your career in real estate, learning how to become a property manager could be just what you’re looking for. This guide will share everything you need to know, including what qualifications you need and what steps you need to take to become a property manager. Even if you don’t plan to become a property manager, you should still know their duties and responsibilities if you plan to own rental properties.

What Is A Property Manager?

A property manager, sometimes referred to as a real estate manager, is a person or company that oversees the day-to-day management of rental properties. Property managers are generally hired when the property owner can’t (or doesn’t want to) provide oversight themselves. Property managers provide rental management services for a fee.

According to market research firm IBISWorld, the U.S. property management industry is worth $88 billion. There are nearly 292 thousand rental management businesses, employing over 846 thousand individuals. The industry is large and is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. If you are thinking about becoming a property manager, now is a great time.

What Does A Property Manager Do?

When you think of a property manager, you might think of the person who collects your rent. However, the profession is so much more than that. Property managers do virtually anything and everything associated with operating a rental property.

Let’s take a look at the variety of responsibilities that go under the purview of a property manager:

  • Set rental rates and collect rent

  • Market and advertise available rental properties and units

  • Show units and screen tenant applications

  • Provide ongoing customer service to tenants

  • Property inspections at move-in and move-out

  • Manage evictions when needed

  • Dealing with difficult tenants

  • Coordinate contractor maintenance and repairs

  • Manage lease renewals, tenant retention, and turnover

  • Taking care of the overall appearance and operation of the property

  • Performing basic accounting duties, bill payments, and data analysis

  • Keeping a working knowledge of landlord-tenant regulations

How Much Do Property Managers Make?

After getting to know property manager duties and responsibilities, perhaps you have a newfound appreciation for the profession. Property managers can make anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 per year. How much property managers make depends on a few factors, such as their education level, experience, and qualifications.

Like everything else in real estate, location also plays a significant role in determining how much a property manager can make. Rental market competitiveness, property values, and rental rates are all factors that determine a property manager’s salary.

Some property managers may also set up different payment structures with their clients as well. Some may charge a percentage fee based on the rental income of a property, while others may charge a flat monthly rate. In addition, some may get commissions and bonuses if a management company employs them.


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What does a property manager do

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Property Manager?

The qualifications needed to become a property manager are straightforward. Pretty much anyone can become a property manager, as long as they’re of legal working age.

Here are some of the common property management qualifications:

  • Must be 18 years or older (21 in some states)

  • Have a high school diploma or GED

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency

  • Complete any pre-licensing coursework required by the state

  • Pass a real estate licensing exam if required in your state

To get started, it’s a great idea to search online for property management positions. That way, you can compare the minimum qualifications and requirements commonly included in your area’s opportunities.

Do You Need A Property Management License?

Depending on where you live, you will most likely need a property management license. There are only 6 states in the U.S. that do not require you to have one. However, you don’t necessarily need a license to get started, so don’t let that discourage you.

Property management companies or independent property managers will often hire assistants and office managers. These entry-level positions don’t always require a license. It’s a great way to start learning the ropes while assisting with administrative duties. From there, you can grow, and your employer may even sponsor you to obtain your license.

Management company

How To Become A Property Manager In 5 Steps

If the responsibilities and qualifications seem like a good fit so far, then you’re probably wondering how to become a property manager. The good news is that this is a great way to launch your career in real estate. Real estate is always in demand, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this industry will continue to grow.

Get started by getting to know the 5 main steps to become a property manager:

  1. Research Legal Requirements

  2. Get Required Education

  3. Acquire Specialized Certifications

  4. Manage Your First Property

  5. Consistently Update On Real Estate

1. Research Legal Requirements

Before making any career move, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with any legal requirements. This is especially true in real estate. First, you’ll need to know what the specific licensing requirements are in your state. As a property manager, you’re expected to understand laws and regulations on property leasing and tenant-landlord rights. You must have a working knowledge of laws at the local, state, and federal levels.

2. Get Required Education

In terms of general education, the most you’ll need is a high school diploma. If you don’t have one, you can take the General Educational Development (GED) exam as an equivalent. A higher degree level could help you land more opportunities and a higher income, but don’t let that discourage you. You can break into the career and work your way up as you gain experience.

If you wish to earn an advanced degree, then you can look at bachelor’s and master’s programs in real estate, business administration, public administration, finance, or accounting. These programs will provide you with competitive skills that stand out.

You can also explore real estate courses to help you get a head start. Many online courses in related topics are available, such as real estate development, finance, management, urban planning, or affordable housing. You might even find courses that are free!

3. Acquire Specialized Certifications

Next, it’s time to prepare for your certification exams. Having a property management certification will make you more attractive to potential clients and employers. By obtaining certifications, you’ll demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to the field.

You’ll also develop a working knowledge of best practices, and gain the edge you need to hit the ground running. Here are some of the most common certifications to make note of:

  • National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP)

  • Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)

  • Master Property Manager (MPM)

You certainly don’t have to get all these certifications at once. You’ll need to take the time to study for and pass the exams. It’s best to start with one and then gradually add certifications that make the most sense as you progress your career.

4. Manage Your First Property

Once you’ve been properly certified and licensed, it’s time to land your first job! Here, you generally have two options. The first option is finding employment through a property management company. Second, you could contract directly with a property owner. Either way, the objective here is to start managing your first bona fide property.

To increase opportunities, start networking with other industry professionals. The more you interact with real estate colleagues, the more likely you will get referrals and recommendations. The best way to find opportunities before they even get listed is word of mouth. Make friends with house flippers and rental property investors, and they might hire you to manage one of their properties. You can also monitor online job boards and career resources to find openings.

5. Consistently Research Real Estate

If you want to be successful, never stop learning. You should always stay up-to-date on industry trends and projections by reading real estate news and blogs. Make sure you’re the expert of your local real estate market. Tend to your professional development by obtaining certifications and attending conferences. Last but not least, maintain and expand your professional network. It’s a great way to increase your knowledge base and be the first to hear about opportunities.

Skills For Becoming A Successful A Property Manager

If you look at any job posting, you should notice that there are typically separate lists for the desired set of qualifications and desired set of skills. Skills are developed over time, and some will argue that individuals are inherently better at some skills than others. Everyone has something different to bring to the plate, and that’s also part of the reason you might gravitate towards one profession over another.

If you’re attracted to a career in real estate, chances are, you already have what it takes to be successful. Here are some examples of the skills you want to spend time polishing:

  • Clear communication

  • Excellent customer service

  • Strong organizational skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Resourcefulness

  • Business skills such as basic marketing and accounting

Summary

Now that you have a better idea of how to become a property manager, it’s time to decide whether you want to pursue the career. Keep in mind, apartment management doesn’t need to be your end goal. Learning how to manage properties can be a great stepping stone to learning the ins and outs of your local real estate market and industry. With enough knowledge and expertise, it could make a great segue into other careers, such as becoming a real estate agent or investor. That’s the beauty of real estate; there’s something in it for everyone!

Were you surprised to learn about all that’s included in the list of property manager duties and responsibilities? Let us know in the comments below!


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