Become a Real Estate Property Manager: Career Roadmap

Jan 22, 2022

Should I Become a Real Estate Property Manager?

Real estate property managers oversee the daily operations of a residential or commercial property, such as an apartment complex or office building. They manage the property's finances and rates to ensure that a profit is yielded each year from rents, mortgages, or purchases. These managers are responsible to do payroll, ensure maintenance and utility bills are paid, prepare taxes, and pay insurance premiums for properties. The majority of real estate property managers work full-time during workdays. Such managers work out of office settings, which may be located on or off site. This job may carry a lot of stress, as these professionals typically manage large amounts of money and must adhere to strict financial deadlines.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's or master's degree preferred; high school diploma sufficient for some jobs
Degree Field Real estate, business administration or a related field
Licensure and Certification Licensure required for individuals buying or selling property; few states require property managers to be licensed; certification required for managers of federal subsidized housing; other voluntary certification available
Experience 1-5 years in real estate or similar area
Key Skills Interpersonal, organizational, problem solving, customer-service and negotiation skills
Salary $59,660 per year (2020 median salary for all real estate property managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Depending on whether real estate property managers work onsite or offsite, they may learn on the job or need an undergraduate degree. Many property owners look for applicants with formal education, especially if they're dealing with commercial properties and working with finances and contracts. Degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Property Management, can provide a good foundation. Students in these programs study topics, such as building codes and human resource management.

Success Tip:

  • Consider a master's degree program. Although not required by all employers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that a master's degree can be beneficial for prospective managers. Programs, such as the Master of Business Administration in Real Estate can provide advanced training on the topics commonly covered in undergraduate programs.

Step 2: Accrue Work Experience

Prospective real estate property managers may obtain entry-level work as an assistant within a property owner's office or at a property management firm. Experience as a real estate agent or broker can also lead to management positions. Eligibility for certain professional certifications may require a minimum level of specific work experiences. For example, the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) notes that prospective commercial or residential property managers should have experience with developing marketing plans, ensuring compliance with government housing regulations and identifying alternate sources of income.

Sucess Tip:

  • Participate in formal training. The BLS states that many employers send property managers to required, formal training programs offered by professional real estate associations. Property managers who participate in training can gain knowledge in specialized areas, such as insurance and risk management, tenant relations, and reserve funding. Formal training can also help prepare property managers for advanced managerial responsibilities.

Step 3: Research Licensure Requirements

All individuals involved in buying or selling properties are required to be licensed by the state in which they operate. Requirements for this licensure can vary by state. A few states also require licensing for property managers.

Step 4: Seek Professional Certification

Professionals who manage properties that are subsidized by the federal government must acquire certification. Other property managers can also obtain voluntary certification for possible career advancement. Real estate management associations, such as the National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers, can enhance the professional reputation of a manager or management firm. In addition to previous experience, candidates seeking certification may need to complete special coursework.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional association. Completing a certification program can also make a property manager eligible for membership with an association. Benefits often include access to educational resources, networking opportunities and increased visibility through member listings. Membership usually requires an annual fee.
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