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How to Become a Property Manager

Sophia Merton
November 30, 2022

Property managers are often responsible for a wide variety of tasks that are involved in overseeing residential or commercial rental properties, including finding and screening tenants, hiring repair and maintenance services, responding to tenant and owner communication, and much more. If you’re wondering how to become a property manager, this guide will go over the six steps between you and a job in the field.

In a nutshell, though, the requirements for becoming a property manager vary between states. While you typically only need a high school diploma to be a property manager, having a bachelor's degree or additional certifications can help you stand out if you are pursuing competitive positions. In most states, you will need to receive a real estate license or property manager license, but you can often work as an assistant property manager without a license under supervision.

How to Become a Property Manager in Six Steps

If you are looking for a career that has a fairly low barrier to entry in a high-growth industry, you might be interested in property management. This can be a great role for people that are interested in real estate but would rather stay away from becoming a real estate agent.

luxury apartment managed by property manager
Becoming a property manager often requires some licensing, but it has a lower barrier to entry than a lot of other careers.

You also might find that this is a suitable career path if you are hoping to become a real estate investor down the road, as it can help you learn the ins and outs of the industry, build a network of local professionals, and give you an advantage when it comes to finding underpriced real estate. Additionally, you might find that you learn about properties that are going to enter foreclosure before other investors.

Let’s look at what it takes to become a property manager to help you understand whether this makes sense for you.

1. Meet the Minimum Required Coursework

In order to become a property manager, you will need to have at least a high school education. You’ll find that higher-paying and more competitive positions, however, require a bachelor’s degree or additional coursework.

person behind stack of books studying coursework to become a property manager
You generally need at least a high school diploma to become a property manager.

Even if you aren’t required to take more courses beyond high school, you’ll find that you can set yourself apart from the competition by taking additional classes in business and real estate.

Depending on your state, you might also have to take property management courses before you are allowed to manage the commercial or residential property.

If you do decide to go to college, there are specific fields that are most useful for becoming a property manager. These include:

  • Finance
  • Business administration
  • Real estate or property management (less common but offered as a major at some universities)

If you know that you want to be a property manager before going to college, choosing one of these majors can help you gain essential knowledge and skills that will help you get a job in the field and excel.

In some U.S. states, property managers are also required to obtain real estate licenses. This means that you’ll have to fulfill certain course requirements and go through specific steps to obtain a license as designated by your state.

2. Research and Follow State Requirements

Property management licensing or a real estate license is required in most states in order to become a property manager. That being said, it’s important to research the requirements in your state, so you know what the process will entail.

Even though you typically need to receive a license of some kind to become a property manager, it’s common for entry-level positions in roles like self-storage property management or apartment property management positions to be available for people that don’t have a license so long as they are working under a supervisor.

Some individuals choose to receive certification from the Institute of Real Estate Management, which involves completing ten courses, taking and passing a number of exams, and proving experience.

3. Pass the Licensing Exam (If Applicable in Your State)

In some states, you will need to take and pass the real estate licensing exam in order to become a property manager. The reason for this is that there are a lot of tasks that you’ll be responsible for that involve real estate law. These include preparing leases and screening potential renters.

man sitting at desk in classroom taking exam to become a property manager
Some states require that you pass a real estate or property management license exam.

The qualifications for getting your real estate license are different in every state. If you are required to take an exam in order to become a property manager, you will also probably need to take a specific course as a part of the process.

4. Consider Specializing In a Certification

If you want to make sure that you are well-equipped and highly qualified to get a specific type of property management job, you might consider becoming certified in other areas that are related to managing property. You’ll want to think about the type of property management job you are looking for when deciding about certification.

Some additional certifications that might be applicable include:

  • Master Property Manager
  • National Apartment Leasing Professional
  • Certified Manager of Community Associations
  • Certified Apartment Manager
  • Residential Management Professional
  • Certified Property Manager

Receiving additional certification can help you stand apart from the competition when looking for a job.

5. Apply For Jobs

Now it’s time to go out and get yourself your first job in property management. It’s generally a good idea to customize your resume to fit each job posting because the skills and requirements vary depending on the position. You can take this opportunity to outline any relevant education, coursework, or certifications while also illustrating how your experience fits with the skills and responsibilities of the job.

man shaking hands with woman after getting property manager job
Once you have fulfilled the requirements in your state, it's time to start job hunting.

After you’ve applied for the positions that interest you, it’s a good idea to follow up a few days later if you haven’t received a response. This is a great way to show that you are excited about the position while also reminding the person responsible for hiring that you have the necessary skills for the job.

Another option is to seek a job working as an assistant property manager. This lets you work at the entry level and learn about the ins and outs of the industry. Not all of these positions require that you are certified or licensed, so this can also be a great way of getting a better sense of whether you want to follow through with the educational and licensing requirements.

6. Remain Engaged With Property Management Best Practices

Maintaining your certification might require that you take continuing education courses depending on your state and your position. This can be a good idea even if it isn’t a hard and fast rule– continuing education courses can be a good investment in your long-term career.

Can I Become Both a Property Manager and a Real Estate Agent?

If you are interested in making money in the real estate industry and you’re exploring the requirements for becoming a property manager, you might notice that there is a lot of overlap between property management and being a real estate agent.

You are able to work both as a real estate agent and a property manager so long as:

  • Proper disclosure is done
  • State licensing requirements are met
  • There’s no conflict of interest

Though some states have standalone property management license requirements, many simply require property managers to take the same courses and exams as real estate agents.

How Much Does a Property Manager Make?

Before you jump through all of the hoops to become a property manager, you likely know what kind of salary you can expect. The average salary for this role is $54,565 a year, but there is a big range depending on your location, whether you own your own business or work as an employee and a number of other factors.

Do I Need a License to Start a Property Management Company?

Again, the answer to this question is going to depend on your state. Some states let you manage a certain number of properties without gaining a license. As an example, if you are in the state of Florida, you have to have a license if you are managing more than ten properties.

Property management might not be a job that gets you rich quickly, but it might be worth considering if you are also interested in becoming a real estate investor. It’s an opportunity to work in the field and build a network of local professionals, helps you gain on-the-ground experience of the local market, and potentially gives you access to underpriced real estate before other investors.

Whether or not you become a property manager, investing in real estate can be a good way of creating another source of income, building wealth over time, and diversifying your investment portfolio. If you’re shopping around for a new rental or just trying to learn the ropes, make sure you check out our rental property calculators.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College and is a real estate investor and researcher. With more than ten years of experience owning and managing investment properties, she has gained valuable insight into the pros and cons of operating rentals. Sophia is dedicated to helping others create wealth through real estate and aims to provide straightforward information about every aspect of rental property ownership.
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