Certified Property Manager Education Requirements and Career Info

Aug 15, 2019

To be a certified property manager, one must meet property manager education requirements and other property management qualifications. Here we discuss the education and certification options for managers in more detail and a property manager salary.

How to Become a Certified Property Manager

A certified property manager (CPM) oversees the maintenance, operation, and other aspects of different kinds of properties. Property managers generally pursue professional certification to demonstrate professionalism and competence. Property management qualifications can be summed up with:

  • Schooling
  • Certification
  • Experience

Property Management Education Requirements

Property managers may only be required to have a high school diploma or the equivalent combined with some work experience. However, more employers are preferring candidates with postsecondary education.

There are a variety of top schools for property management and maintenance programs. These schools are located throughout the country in states like New York, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Property management degree programs are most common at the undergraduate level as career diplomas, certificate programs, associate's, or bachelor's degree programs, but master's programs in the field are available. However, some property managers may also pursue a bachelor's, or even a master's, in other related areas, such as business administration, real estate, public administration, or finance.

Degree programs in property management may go by several different names, including residential property management, real estate property management, residential and commercial property management, and more. Students in these programs may take courses in subjects like:

  • Property law
  • Property maintenance
  • Leasing and marketing
  • Financial accounting
  • Risk management
  • Ethics
  • Property management

CPM Certification

CPM certification is offered through the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). This certification requires students to demonstrate 3 years of real estate management experience, meet education requirements, and pass an examination and management plan. The education component can be met with one of the following four options:

  • Completing 7 courses through the IREM
  • Holding a bachelor's or graduate degree
  • Holding other professional designations in the field
  • Having 20 years or more of work experience

Before earning full CPM certification, students must complete a 1-year candidacy period. They must also pay annual national and chapter dues.

Other Professional Certification

There is a variety of other professional certifications available for property managers, some of which are optional and some of which may be required depending on the type of property manager. For example, managers of federal government public housing must have proper certification, as well as real estate managers who must have a license to buy or sell property.

Most degree programs in property management help prepare students for various certifications. Usually these certifications include some sort of exam, but may also require additional education and/or work experience. A few examples of possible certifications include:

  • State Real Estate License
  • Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) Certification
  • National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) Certificate
  • Certified Retail Real Estate Professional (CRRP)
  • Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) Certification
  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Designation

Work Experience

Like other management positions, many property managers may begin their careers in other positions in the field, such as in real estate sales. Property managers may only have less than 5 years of prior work experience (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but this experience typically helps prepare them to work as onsite managers. As mentioned, work experience may also be a requirement for some professional certifications.

Property Manager Salary

In 2018, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for property, real estate, and commercial association managers was $71,730. Most of these managers worked in real estate and made an average of $67,760. stated that the median salary for a property manager was $49,356, as of July 2019. This salary was expected to increase with work experience, as the website reported that managers with 20 or more years of experience made an annual salary of $56,875.

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