How to Become a Property Manager
How to Become a Property Manager
How to Become a Property Manager

A property manager shows a couple the kitchen of a home.

Maintaining a property, whether it’s a single-family home or a million-square-foot commercial building, requires a unique skill set, from finance and administration to advertising and customer service. Add real estate experience, the benefits of a online MBA, and evidence of high professional standards, and you have the right combination for a rewarding career in property management.

What Does a Property Manager Do?

While a property manager’s daily tasks often depend on property location and type, these professionals typically assume the following basic responsibilities:

  • Tenant and rent management: Property managers find, screen, and select new tenants and negotiate lease or rental agreements. They also collect rent payments and assess late fees.
  • Maintenance and repair: Even small properties require the property manager to develop relationships with local tradespeople and suppliers, ensuring tenant concerns are addressed quickly and reports are finished promptly.
  • Financial management: Managing the finances of rental properties is a behind-the-scenes responsibility not often noticed by tenants. As the on-site experts, property managers are often involved in setting, managing, tracking, and reporting property budgets.

In addition to these tasks, managers of larger properties often supervise a staff of leasing and maintenance personnel.

Some responsibilities are specific to the type of property being managed. For example:

Single-Family Homes

Managing a single-family rental property involves more than identifying potential tenants, running background checks, and collecting rent payments. Working with individual owners requires attention to detail in home features and amenities, familiarity with the neighborhood, and even local history.

Managing a free-standing home also requires maintaining good tenant relations, being aware of local rental laws and mandates, and responding to tenant calls and emergencies. Managers also may inspect the property periodically and make arrangements for maintenance and repairs. Handling accounting and tax preparation may also be included in the position.

Multi-Family Dwellings

Managing multi-family properties requires the same attention as single-family homes, but the work is multiplied. Organization skills are imperative for a multitenant property; logistical decisions for tenant turnover include inspecting and preparing units after tenants move out and arranging for new tenants to move in. Property owners expect managers to keep the vacancy rate as low as possible and to deal with sensitive matters, like tenant disputes and evictions.

Homeowners Associations

Property owners of single-family structures in some subdivisions, planned communities, or units of condominium buildings are often subject to the decisions of a homeowners association or HOA. The association, usually run by a board of elected residents, creates standards and restrictions on property appearance and maintenance and oversees common areas, such as sidewalks, landscaping, and common-use buildings, like clubhouses.

Property managers for HOAs have a slightly different focus than those who maintain rental properties. They work with the board, as well as local suppliers and service providers, to maintain the collective property according to the restrictions. In addition to being responsive to emergencies and requests, they may also be involved in negotiating agreements and dealing with resident conflicts.

Commercial Properties

Commercial property managers and management companies often work with multimillion-dollar portfolios of properties and improvements. They work on large-scale investment and leasing agreements, dealing with a variety of tenants and tenant needs. Experienced commercial property managers may be asked to weigh in on investment strategies and how to make the most of development opportunities.

In addition to the daily management issues of rent collection, property maintenance, and repairs, they may also contribute to preparing lease proposals and financial reports.

To accomplish the multitude of tasks and goals property managers deal with each day, they need soft skills that focus on organization, networking, and problem-solving. This practical knowledge and experience make prospective job candidates with hybrid MBA skills highly desirable. Becoming a property manager with marketable skills is ultimately a combination of strong education and broad experience.

Steps to Become a Property Manager

Although a property manager’s role may involve a wide variety of property types and duties, the path to becoming a property manager almost always includes:

  • Advanced education
  • Work experience in related fields
  • Skills and expertise recognized by certification or licensing


A high school education and real estate experience may be sufficient for working as a property manager for small investment properties. But more may be required to land a position with a property management company.

When companies look for managers capable of handling multi-unit and multi-site investments, they want candidates with an undergraduate degree in a related field, and quite often, an online MBA with a clear specialization. The MBA specializations in demand for property management positions include administrative services, sales, finance, marketing, and public relations.

Work Experience

Property managers can be responsible for real estate, financial issues, and client relations. Work experience in any of these areas is often required by property owners. Experience in real estate, as well as community or neighborhood associations, or working with an experienced property manager can build a solid foundation for developing property management skills.

Licensing and Certification

Licensing and certification requirements for property managers vary from state to state. Here are some of the most well-known organizations that offer certification and designations.

  • BOMI International is an internationally recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that offers educational resources for the property management industry. Successful completion of their programs results in designations such as Real Property Administrator, Facilities Management Administrator, Systems Maintenance Technician, Systems Maintenance Administrator, and High-Performance Sustainable Building Management.
  • Community Associations Institute offers Association Management Specialist, Professional Association Manager, Large-Scale Manager, and Accredited Association Management Company training and credentials.
  • The Institute of Real Estate Management awards various certifications to individuals who complete their coursework, such as a Certified Property Manager, an Accredited Residential Manager, or an Accredited Commercial Manager.
  • The National Association of Residential Property Managers recognizes individuals who pass their standards of experience and commitment to professional growth with either Residential Management Professional or Master Property Manager professional designations.

Some states require property managers to have a real estate license, even when they are not involved in the purchase or sale of property. In addition, recertification and ongoing professional development may be expected for improving management and property ownership skills or advancement to positions of greater responsibility.

Employment may also depend on proof of continuing education in areas like building mechanical systems, property value improvement, insurance, real estate law, and real estate finance.

Property Manager Salaries

In May 2021, the median annual salary for property and community association managers was $59,230, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the actual pay for a property manager depends on many factors, including location, the type and size of property, experience, and certification or licensing. Property managers may earn bonuses or additional pay based on low vacancy rates. Advanced education and experience can also contribute to higher pay scales and greater responsibility.

Become a Leader in a Unique Form of Business

If you are interested in a job with a unique combination of skill requirements and job possibilities, becoming a property manager may be the right path for you. Maintaining a property and keeping tenants satisfied, whether it’s for a single family or a huge corporation, can require anything from making sure light bulbs and appliances are in working order to finding the perfect tenant for a commercial-sized warehouse.

While earning an online Master of Business Administration from Maryville University, you can specialize in accounting, information technology, management, marketing, or project management. Learn more about the possibilities for employment and advancement in a rewarding and challenging career as a property manager.

Recommended Reading

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AllPropertyManagement, “Is a Property Management Company Right For Your Real Estate Investment?”

AllPropertyManagement, “Should You Hire an HOA Property Management Company?”

AllPropertyManagement, “Why You Need a Commercial Property Management Company”

AllPropertyManagement, “Why You Need a Multi-Family Property Management Company”

AllPropertyManagement, “Why You Need a Single Family Home Property Management Company”

BOMI International, “Designations”

Chron, “What Is the Typical Pay for a Property Manager”

Community Associations Institute, “Credentials for Community Managers”

Forbes, “The Importance of Property Manager Due Diligence”

Institute of Real Estate Management, “Certifications”

Investopedia, “What Is a Homeowners Association (HOA) and How Does It Work?”

Mashvisor, “Single Family Home Property Management Tips for New Managers”

National Association of Residential Property Managers, “Designations and Certifications”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers

Wisegeek, “What Is a Residential Superintendent?”

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