If you have an interest in real estate and the drive to become a property manager, then starting your property management career will require some planning and perseverance on your part. While there are certainly a host of requirements to start and be successful in real estate and property management, it may not be as difficult as you think.

Once you decide to take the plunge as a property manager, you’ll find your career choice to an interesting, challenging, and rewarding experience. There is an expected 4% growth in the $81B real estate management industry so if you think you have what it takes, following the steps below can help you put you on the path towards a satisfying career as a property manager.

How to become a property manager
  1. Complete coursework in real estate or business.
  2. Follow state requirements to become a property manager.
  3. Pass the real estate licensing exam, if required in your state.
  4. Complete the certification process for specialties.
  5. Get your first property management job.

How to Become a Property Manager

Average salary for a property manager

Property managers are usually paid an annual salary, but they can also be compensated on an hourly, as-needed basis, as is usually the case for a seasonal hire. Some property managers, such as leasing agents for apartments, are also eligible for bonuses and additional compensation based on filling properties.

What does a property manager do?

A property manager oversees a real estate investment such as a commercial or residential rental property. Some property managers own the property, but most are employed either individually or by a company. Property managers usually manage multiple properties at once. Some responsibilities of this job may include:

Property managers can work in residential, retail or commercial properties, but they often select one to specialize in. They usually have a background in real estate but are not always required to have a real estate license.

How to become a property manager

An organized property manager helps the real estate owner ensure their real estate investment is maintained and lucrative. To succeed in this role, youll need strong communication, management and organizational skills. To become a property manager, follow these steps:

1. Complete coursework in real estate or business

The minimum requirement to work in property management is high school education. However, higher-paying positions will require additional coursework or a bachelors degree. Taking additional classes in real estate and business can help you differentiate yourself from the competition. Some states also require coursework in property management.

If you pursue an undergraduate degree, fields such as business administration or finance are often beneficial. Some universities offer majors in property or real estate management. Those types of programs provide the clearest career path to working in property management.

Some states require property managers to also obtain their real estate licenses. This designation requires specific coursework and licensing by your state.

2. Follow state requirements to become a property manager

Each state has its own requirements for becoming a property manager, but most of them require a real estate license or property management licensing. The National Property Management Association can tell you the state requirements for becoming a property manager in your area.

While licensing may be required, many entry-level property managers work under a supervisor, and licensing is not required. This is often the case in roles like apartment property management or self-storage property management positions.

Some people become certified by the Institute of Real Estate Management. This process includes the successful completion of ten courses, passing several exams and showing proof related experience. As many as seven of the course requirements can be waived by achieving select education or experience credentials, as determined by an IREM review process. The program also requires letters of recommendation about candidates and association payment of dues to IREM.

3. Pass the real estate licensing exam, if required in your state

Some states require property managers to pass their real estate licensing exam. This is because as a property manager, youll be handling many tasks that involve real estate law, such as screening renters and preparing leases.

Real estate licensing qualifications vary by state. However, if your state requires you to pass your real estate licensing exam as part of becoming a property manager, you will likely be expected to complete a classroom learning component of the licensing process along with the state exam.

4. Complete the certification process for specialties

One way you can stand out from the competition is to become certified in additional areas that overlap with property management. Which certification you pursue should be based on the type of property management you are interested in. These include:

5. Get your first property management job

Property management jobs vary in required experience and preferred skills, so to be considered a top contender for this position, its a good idea to tailor your resume to the job posting. Look at the skills required and the responsibilities of the position and be clear about how your experience is what the hiring manager is looking for. Highlight your knowledge and skills as well as any relevant education, certifications or coursework.

Apply for the position and follow up after a few days if you havent heard anything. This follow-up is an ideal time to express your enthusiasm about the position and remind the hiring manager about your organizational skills, which are invaluable as a property manager.

You can also apply for a position as an assistant property manager, which allows you to learn the basics of the industry while working in an entry-level property management position.

These entry-level positions also rarely require the certifications to work in the field, so its possible to get an understanding of and experience in property management before taking necessary exams or applying for the certifications.

6. Stay updated on best practices in property management

If you received your certification as part of becoming a property manager, you may need to take some continuing education courses to maintain your certification. Even if no certification or classes are required, staying updated on best practices in property management is always a strong investment in your career.

The Property Management Association is a good place to stay in touch with changing requirements as well as best practices in property management throughout the country. Property management blogs are also a valuable resource for increasing your knowledge of the field. While real estate careers are growing, understanding the trends and industry innovation taking place can help you remain competitive in the job market.

FAQs about becoming a property manager

Common questions about property management careers include:

Can you work as a property manager without a license?

This requirement is dictated by the state youre working in, so check with them first. However, if youre not conducting real estate transactions like sales, you may not need a license. If you find out from your state that you do, youll need to find out what type of license youll need. For example, you might either need a real estate brokerage license or a property management license.

Do I need a license to start a property management company?

This also depends on your state requirements. While some states may let you manage a few properties without a license, they may have limits as to how many you can manage without a license. For instance, Florida requires a license if you manage more than 10 properties. Its important to know the rules because they may be different for a single property manager and a property management company.

What are the costs of becoming a certified property manager?

Certified property managers must apply for certification. The application fee with the Institute of Real Estate Management to become a CPM is $210. To be considered, you must also be a member in good standing of the Institute and pay your annual dues. There may be a chapter dues payment you are responsible for as well.


Where do property managers get paid the most?

Property manager responsibilities include setting and collecting rent, handling maintenance requests, filling vacant units and potentially setting the budget for the property. Property managers often take care of property that real estate investors either do not live near or do not wish to personally manage.

What does a property manager actually do?

You should complete a Certificate IV in Real Estate Practice to learn core skills in property management. To legally work as a property manager, you must get licensed by completing a Licensing Program or a Certificate of Registration (for all Australian states) or a Certificate IV (for Queensland and New South Wales).

How do you become a property manager in Australia?

No license is required for managing personally owned properties. There is not a “Property Manager” license or certificate. Also, certain rental properties need a license through the Div. of Hotels and Restaurants.

Do you need a real estate license to be a property manager in Florida?

No license is required for managing personally owned properties. There is not a “Property Manager” license or certificate. Also, certain rental properties need a license through the Div. of Hotels and Restaurants.

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