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How to Become a Property Manager (A Complete 2023 Guide)

Last updated on September 11, 2023

How to Become a Property Manager

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So you’re thinking about becoming a property manager…


You’re in for a challenging yet rewarding career. 

But how exactly do you become a property manager?

We’re here to give you all the details. 

We’ll walk you through the basic steps that each state requires. 

We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions, such as: 

  • How much do property managers make?
  • What are the career paths of a real estate property manager?
  • What are the skills of a successful property manager?

So without further ado, let’s see how to become a property manager!

What is a Property Manager?

Simply put…

A property manager is a firm or person who takes care of real estate properties on behalf of the owners. 

Property managers are often hired by owners of multiple properties or those that rent to tenants. These managers carry out the inventions of the owners and meet development or financial goals.

Some responsibilities of a property manager include:

  • Hire vendors for routine maintenance and repair
  • Communicate with the tenants and owners
  • Collects rent
  • And so much more

As of 2023, there are 296,258 property management companies in the United States, employing more than 800,000 people. 

The industry is striving and is expected to continue growing in the foreseeable future.

This makes it an excellent time to consider a career as a property manager.

The 6 Steps to Become a Property Manager

To become a property manager, you need to complete these 6 steps: 

  1. Know the type of properties
  2. Research state requirements
  3. Complete real estate education
  4. Pass the real estate licensing exam
  5. Obtain specialized certifications
  6. Manage your first property

Let’s go over the steps in detail. 

Step 1: Know the Type of Properties

Before you even begin, it’s important to have a basic grasp of the different types of properties.

This step will help you figure out which type of property management you should pursue. 

Here are the most common property types:

  • Commercial management
  • Multi-family residential management
  • Community management or HOA
  • Single-family residential management

While it’s best to have a clear direction on where to focus your efforts as a property manager, remember that your decision doesn’t have to be set in stone.

Instead, you can think of it as a starting point.

What type of property management aligns with your unique skill set? 

If you can answer that, you will have a solid foundation to build upon. 

Step 2: Research State Requirements

Every state will have a different set of requirements. 

So don’t forget to look into the specifics of your state. 

But generally, here are the requirements to become a property manager: 

  • Must be at least 18-19 years old. However, some states require you to be at least 21 years old. 
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Have proof of US citizenship, state residency, or permanent residency.
  • Complete the required real estate education (if required by your state).
  • Pass the real estate licensing exam (most states require this).

Now, most states don’t require a license for entry-level property managers. However, they have to be supervised by real estate brokers at all times. 

If you want to advance your career, some states require you to get a property manager license. 

Other states require both a property manager license AND a real estate broker license. 

Additionally, your state may have different laws and regulations depending on the type of real estate property you want to manage. 


Step 3: Complete Real Estate Education

If you’re already advancing your career, your state may require a real estate license — and you must go through the requirements for that. 

You can click here to check our chart on real estate license requirements per state. 

Some states also require you to take a property management course. 

However, for entry-level property managers, most states just ask for a high school diploma or equivalent GED. 

That said, a lot of property management firms prefer hiring college graduates. 

So though it’s not required, it’s a good idea to get a bachelor’s degree in finance, real estate, business, accounting, or public administration. 

Taking one of these programs will help you stand out from other candidates. 

It will also equip you with the skills you need to succeed in the industry. 

Step 4: Pass the Real Estate Licensing Exam

Even as an entry-level property manager, you’ll have to deal with lots of real estate laws. 

And to ensure that you know those laws, you have to pass the real estate licensing exam. 

Again, this is not required for all states. 

Also, if your state requires a real estate license, you would have already taken this exam and no longer need to retake it. 

Now, the licensing exam is conducted by different facilities all around the US.

The most common ones are:

  • Pearson Vue
  • PSI
  • The state’s official licensing site

Check which facility conducts the real estate licensing exam of your state. From there, follow the steps to apply and schedule an exam. 

NOTE: You will usually have to take a real estate course before the exam. So be prepared to get in some extra studying. 

Step 5: Obtain Specialized Certifications

Get this. 

You can stay as an entry-level property manager. 

But if you want to advance in your career, then you need a specialized certification. 

This will surely get you to higher property manager positions. 

Having specialized certifications will give you an edge and show clients that you have the skills and knowledge to perform your duties well.

Here are some of the most common property manager certifications to consider:

  • National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP)

If you’re just starting your career, the NALP is the certification you should focus on. 

A leasing professional is also referred to as an assistant property manager. They are the first ones that prospective renters meet and speak to. 

This certification will help you improve your effectiveness and proficiency in your property managing skills. 

To acquire this, you must:

  • Complete 7 NALP courses including the Market Survey course
  • Have at least 6 months of experience in a leasing role
    • This can also be done while you are currently taking the course through a temporary certificate
  • Pass the NALP exam
  • Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

After gaining experience as a leasing professional, you may consider the CAM certification. 

This certification is for those who are looking to become an on-site property manager within the firm or particular properties. These managers deal with residents and owners face-to-face.

To acquire this, you must have:

  • Completed CAM courses worth a number of credit hours (depending on your state)
  • Have at least 12 months of on-site property management experience
    • This can also be done while you are currently taking the course through a temporary certificate
  • Pass the CAM exam
  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)

The goal of many property managers is to become certified property managers or CPMs.

To acquire this, you must have:

  • At least 36 months of consecutive management role experience
  • A real estate certification or license
  • Meet the minimum managed rental properties:
    • Residential – 100 units on at least 5 sites or 200 units on at least 1-4 sites
    • Commercial: 80,000 sq. ft. at 2 or more sites or 120,000 sq. ft. at 1 site
    • Industrial: 200,000 sq. ft. at 1 or more sites
  • Pass the CPM exam. 
  • Master Property Management (MPM) 

This is the highest certification for property managers. 

To acquire this, you must have:

  • At least 60 months of consecutive management role experience
  • A real estate certification or license
  • Meet the minimum of managed properties:
    • Residential: 500 units at 1 or more sites or 100 units at 5 or more sites
  • Pass the MPM exam. 

Keep in mind that you are not required to get all certifications at once. You can start with one and gradually add another one as you progress your career.

Step 5: Manage Your First Property


It’s time to get started!

If you’re starting as an entry-level property manager, you have to look for a firm or real estate broker to work with. 

Remember, though a high school diploma or GED is good enough, you will have a better chance of getting hired if you’re an undergraduate with a college degree that fits with your career. 

If you already have specialized certification, then you can choose to go to a company or directly to a property owner and apply for a position. 

This makes it easier to get hired since you already have the knowledge and skills to take on higher tasks. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Property Manager

How Much Do Property Managers Make?

The salary range for a property manager can vary depending on factors such as location, employer, and level of experience. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a property manager in the United States is $124,680.

What are the Career Paths of a Real Estate Property Manager?

Becoming a property manager will equip you with essential and transferable skills such as leadership, communication, organization, and relationship building. 

That’s why property managers have diverse career paths in the industry. Some examples include:

  • Real estate broker
  • Home inspector or surveyor
  • Consultant 
  • Senior property manager
  • Real estate investor
  • Mortgage 
  • Property marketing specialist

What are the Skills of a Successful Property Manager?

To be a successful property manager, you need to have a unique skill set depending on the estate. 

Here are the key skills you should possess to become a successful property manager:

  • Strong leadership and people management abilities to effectively manage a team.
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills to keep everything running smoothly.
  • Good analytical and financial management skills to make informed decisions.
  • Strong communication and listening skills to build positive relationships with staff and clients alike.
  • Knowledge of land, farming, or animal management could come in handy and help you stand out in the field.

What Does a Property Manager Do?

A property manager is responsible for handling the day-to-day duties that come with managing rental properties, including:

  • Managing rent payments
  • Screening rental applicants
  • Showing the property to prospective residents
  • Move-in or move-out inspections
  • Marketing vacant properties
  • Managing eviction process
  • Managing tenant retention, turnover, and lease renewals
  • Dealing with difficult tenants
  • Performs basic accounting duties
  • Property status reporting
  • Community maintenance
  • Coordinating maintenance and repairs with contractors

Of course, these tasks will depend on what type of property manager you are. 


So, there you have it — how to become a property manager. 

With hard work and some hustle, you can start your career in property management and work your way up the ladder.

The most important thing is to research your state’s requirements. From there, you can get a clearer picture of what to do. 

Good luck!

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