How To Become a Property Manager

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 24, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Real Estate
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Are you interested in real estate? Maybe you don’t want to become an agent or broker. However, learning how to become a property manager is a great way to enjoy a career in real estate. You can work as a property manager with the right planning and the right steps.

Before you decide this is the right career path for you, make sure you understand this type of career. Then, let’s look at the job duties of a property manager and how to become a property manager with a step-by-step guide.

How To Become a Property Manager

Duties of a Property Manager

Sometimes, a property manager is also referred to as a real estate manager. As a property manager, you will take care of the day-to-day management of the real estate. Typically, you will work with landlords to manage their rental homes, apartments, or other properties.

Some of the most common duties you will perform as a property manager include:

It’s very common for a property manager to take over all the duties of the rental properties for a landlord. These are just some of the things you might do as a property manager.

How to Become a Property Manager in 4 Steps

Step #1 – Meet the Minimum Requirements of Your State

Depending on your state, you may need to be 18 years of age or 21 or older to become a property manager. You will also need to have at least a high school education or equivalent. Some companies will require an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in real estate or business administration.

Most states will require you to obtain a real estate license as a property manager. This may require pre-licensing coursework and passing an exam.

Step #2 – Get Your Real Estate License

While you don’t need a degree to become a property manager, you need a real estate license. This license will require you to take pre-licensing courses. In addition, you will need to complete the education requirements and pass the real estate license exam.

Your state will determine the actual requirements for getting your real estate license.

Step #3 – Work an Entry-Level Position

Most property managers gain some experience in real estate. For example, they may work for a property development company or even a brokerage before becoming a property manager. This helps to teach you the necessary communication skills, how the market works, and how to build good relationships.

Gaining experience is a common thing you will need to do before you become a property manager. This will help to make you a more desirable candidate.

Step #4 – Get Certified

You may not need to become certified to work as a property manager. However, earning the right certifications can help you gain an edge over other applicants for these jobs.

You can become certified in four different levels, including:

Entry-level property managers can get certified with the NALP (National Apartment Leasing Professional). NALP provides the skills needed to work in real estate. This is the first level of certification for property managers.

Becoming a CAM (Certified Apartment Manager) or a CPM (Certified Property Manager) is the next level of certification. This type of certification allows you to choose a specialty. If you want to work with apartment buildings, becoming a CAM is the right choice. Those looking to work with other types of properties want to become Certified Property Managers. You will need some experience to receive the CAM and CPM certifications.

The MPM (Master Property Manager) certification is the highest certification a property manager can gain. You will need at least five years of experience in property management before earning this certification.

While none of these certifications are necessary, they can help you earn a higher salary and land a better property manager job.

If you follow these steps to become a property manager, you can land your first property management job. Then, you can grow your career by gaining more education and skills within the field.

Requirements for Certification

If you want to become a certified property manager, you will need to meet the right requirements. Here are the requirements for all four certification levels.

National Apartment Leasing Professional

You can fulfill the experience portion of the requirements while enrolled in the course. It’s even possible to get a provisional certificate if you complete the coursework before meeting the experience requirement.

Certified Apartment Manager

The experience requirement can be met at the same time as you’re taking the courses.

Certified Property Manager

Complete the necessary management portfolio including residential (100 units at 1-4 sites or 100 units at 5 or more sites), commercial (120K square feet at 1 site or 80K square feet at 2 or more sites), and industrial (200K square feet at 1 or more sites).

You will also have to meet the necessary function requirements, as well. To obtain a CPM certification, at least 19 out of the 36 function requirements will need to be met.

Master Property Manager

Most of your pre-requisites for this certification will be satisfied when you earn your CPM certification.

With any level of certification, you’ll gain a better opportunity to land a higher-level property management job. If you want to climb to the top, you should get your Master Property Manager certification.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Property Manager

How much do property managers make?

The average salary for a property manager is around $60K per year. Most property managers will earn at least $31K within an entry-level position. Top property managers can earn more than $100K per year.

Your location and the actual employer will make a difference. For example, new York, Rhode Island, and Virginia offer the highest average salaries for property managers.

Do I need a license to work as a property manager?

Your state decides whether you need a license or not to work as a property manager. It’s common for property managers to hold a real estate license. However, if you’re not conducting transactions, you may not need to be licensed in your state. Some states have a separate property management license, as well.

How much does it cost to become a certified property manager?

The four levels of certification come with a specific cost. For example, if you want to become a certified property manager, you will pay $210 for the application fee. There will also be annual dues you will need to pay.

Where do most property managers start?

It’s common for property managers to start by working entry-level jobs for property management companies or real estate brokers. They may start as a leasing agent.

You will need a high school education to start in one of these types of positions. For example, if you want to become a property manager, you can start in an entry-level position while earning a degree.

Which common skills make me a good candidate to become a property manager?

If you have strong communication skills, basic marketing skills, good customer service skills, and you’re very organized, you fit well into this career. Property managers need to be flexible and need to be very good at communication.

What type of properties do property managers work with?

As a property manager, you can work with many different types of properties. For example, you might manage multi-family properties, residential homes, apartment buildings, commercial properties, office space, industrial properties, or retail space. It’s even possible to specialize in a type of property you want to manage.


There are many opportunities in the property management industry. However, if you want to become a property manager, you need the right training and experience. Follow the steps above about becoming a property manager, and you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding career.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.