How to Become an Apartment Property Manager

Find out how to become an apartment property manager. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in property management.

Should I Become an Apartment Property Manager?

Apartment property managers, sometimes known as on-site property managers, collect monthly rent from tenants, make routine apartment building inspections, hire grounds maintenance workers and create promotional campaigns to attract new tenants. Managers also draft lease agreements, review rental applications, verify that all tenants are following complex rules, handle complaints and write budgetary reports. These professionals may need to live on-site in order to respond to emergencies during off hours. Apartment property managers work full-time and often for long hours during weekdays and on weekends.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree generally required; high school diploma sufficient for some jobs
Degree Field Real estate, accounting, business administration or other related field
Licensure and Certification Licensure and/or certification required for certain property managers; voluntary certifications are also available
Experience 1-5 years generally required
Key Skills Customer service, interpersonal, problem-solving, communication and organizational skills, ability to maintain electronic records of renter information
Salary $35,282 per year (2015 median salary for all apartment property managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (July 2015)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that most employers want applicants with a bachelor's degree from a field related to real estate, accounting, business administration or public administration. Bachelor's degree programs in property management may provide students with some of the most direct career preparation. Property management coursework may include maintenance, financial management, property development, real estate law and marketing, leasing laws, senior housing complexes and business writing. Degree programs may also have internship opportunities, allowing students to gain property management experience.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a certificate program. Not all property management degree programs provide enough information related to apartment management. Undergraduate certificate programs in apartment management can often be completed in conjunction with other bachelor's degree programs. Certificate program courses may cover topics like fair housing and lending regulations, government-assisted housing programs, multi-tenant apartment management, bookkeeping and general maintenance.

Step 2: Build Career Experience

Not all apartment property management positions require applicants to have previous experience. However, larger complexes require significant maintenance and financial management, so owners of these properties may prefer applicants with several years of business experience. College graduates may build experience by working as assistant property managers. As assistants, workers can shadow experienced property managers and learn the practical skills needed for the job.

Step 3: Obtain Necessary Licenses or Certifications

A few states require licensure for property managers, while those who manage apartment complexes receiving federal government subsidies are required to obtain certification. Any type of state-mandated license or certification will need to be renewed on a regular basis. The renewal process may include taking training courses, passing background checks, paying licensing fees and submitting paperwork.

Step 4: Find Employment

Apartment property managers can find employment directly with apartment complexes. There are also property management firms that place workers into property management positions. The BLS predicted that applicants with related undergraduate degrees would have the best employment opportunities.

Step 5: Consider Voluntary Certification

Apartment property management applicants may have more opportunities available to them with industry certifications. Most certification programs require candidates to have some work experience prior to taking exams. A common certification for workers in this profession includes the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) designation offered by the National Apartment Association (NAA). To be eligible for the CAM exam, individuals must complete the designated training modules, have at least one year of apartment management experience and meet all other exam eligibility requirements.

Sometimes, regional apartment associations team up with the NAA to encourage local apartment managers to achieve the CAM designation. Regional apartment associations may have additional eligibility requirements that professionals must meet to earn CAM designations, but this varies by location.

Success Tip:

  • Adhere to recertification regulations. Industry certifications must be maintained by completing the renewal process every few years. Each organization has different renewal requirements, and certified professionals must meet those requirements to avoid a lapse in certification. For example, CAM renewal usually requires completing continued education courses and paying fees.

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