Property management career guide

Date Published : Oct-11-2021

Written By : Phillip Livingston

Property management is a growth industry. The job market is expected to remain stable for the remainder of the 2020s, making it a viable career path for people who enjoy solving problems and finding smarter ways to get things done.

While the average entry-level property manager has a high school education, a qualification or apprenticeship will improve your chances of being hired. Apprenticeship schemes are usually looking for someone who is driven and hard-working, with reasonable academic skills and a willingness to learn.

It’s useful to have an outgoing personality because property managers spend a lot of time communicating with and helping different people.

Alternatively, you could start out as a leasing consultant or a leasing agent to learn the ins and outs of property management. Some of your responsibilities in this capacity will include collecting rent, sending out late notices, taking care of maintenance, etc.

Qualifications and training

Onsite property managers learn the most while on the job. Property managers who handle commercial projects and contract management and finances may hold a degree in accounting, business administration, real estate management, or finance. This often makes up for the lack of practical experience. Having a relevant degree also gives you an advantage over other candidates.

Different states/provinces may have different requirements for property managers, too.


Property managers are strongly encouraged to obtain a Certified Property Manager (CPM) qualification. It’s an internationally recognized qualification that’s offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). The entry requirements into the program include three years’ experience in managing a property portfolio, and you must take a management ethics course prior to taking the CPM exams.

Other beneficial courses that will help you advance your career as a property manager include the Residential Management Professional (RMP). You must hold a real estate broker’s license and manage at least 100 units for two years prior to applying.

After receiving the RMP course, you may consider taking a Master Property Manager (MPM) course. If successfully completed, you will be eligible to operate a Certified Residential Management Company.

Those who are still starting out are advised to acquire an Accredited Residential Manager (ARM). Applicants may purse this after getting 12 months of real estate management experience. There’s also the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) qualification which qualifies you to manage apartment rentals.

These credentials are offered by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), an international consortium that’s made up of real estate professionals from around the world

What does it take to be a property manager?

Here are some of the most important qualities you need to become a property manager:


Problem-solving means that you’re able to use the resources at your disposal to overcome obstacles. Something as simple as Google can really come in handy when it comes to helping you figure things out on your own.

This doesn’t mean you can learn everything on your own. The real estate industry can be incredibly complex, and sometimes, people are the best resources. But it is important that you have the confidence and will to try and figure out some problems without asking a mentor for help.


Experience is another important indicator of success for a property manager, especially when it comes to specific types of real estate. For instance, you may want to manage a luxury complex or a retirement village. You need specific kinds of experience in order to be successful.

One of the best ways to acquire work experience as a property manager is to work in an estate agency for a couple of years. Here you’ll get first-hand experience of how to manage residential properties so you can become more comfortable communicating with tenants and landlords, resolving problems, and applying “industry knowledge” to specific environments.


It’s also important to have strong sales skills. There will be times where you may have to close a lease, or persuade a stubborn board to try something new.

People skills

The real estate industry is a people business. You must work with prospects, board members, vendors, and residents.

While property managers work hard to keep a community running smoothly, it takes a whole team of humans to ensure that happens. So, whether you want to start your own management firm or join an existing company, you need to be able to work well with others.


Report-writing is quite important in a property management career. This requires attention to detail because you need to be responsible for many essential reports that go to clients. This means you must be organized, take responsibility and be accountable for what you’re doing.



Get involved and meet people in the industry. Read trade information, and speak to your customers. They will give you valuable feedback that you can then apply to your career. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date because it can be a simple and effective way to meet other people who share the same goal and values as you.

Service-first mentality

It’s important that you come into this industry with the right attitude – a customer service attitude. The property industry could definitely use more people with a “clients first” approach. This might mean working past 5pm, or making a visit to a property on a Saturday if an emergency occurs.


Self-development is important in any industry, particularly in property management. But it’s hard to grow if you are unable to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses.

Different types of property managers

HOAs are actually becoming more popular in North America. As a result, there’s a strong demand for highly skilled and trained property managers. Property managers are not all the same. There are different options for these professionals, and we will explore many of them below.

Employee managers

Employee managers are usually tasked with caring for one or more properties. They work for a property management company.

Independent property managers

Independent property managers handle properties individually, or with the assistance of employees. They manage real estate for more than one owner and have agency duties for each client that they represent. Usually, they will care for individual units or homes as opposed to entire communities.

General property managers

A general property manager usually takes on a lot of responsibility on behalf of the client. They are asked to oversee financial operations, including making sure that rent, HOA dues, and outgoing expenses are paid on time. They may also handle payroll, reserve fund savings, insurance premiums, and taxes.

Some property managers may assist in financial statement preparation. They will also report to the property owner or investor on a regular basis with regards to lease expiration dates, occupancy rates, maintenance status, etc. The property manager may also advertise the property to fill vacancies.

It doesn’t end there. A general property manager could be the one tasked with negotiating contracts on behalf of the association or investor.

A manager also needs to buy equipment and supplies required for repairs, and arrange special repairs for maintenance tasks that cannot be done by regular maintenance staff.

A property manager must understand and apply the latest relevant legislation in order to avoid fines and infractions. This includes legislation such as local fair housing laws, the Federal Fair Housing Amendment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.

These laws are meant to guide the property manager in ensuring that they manage the property safely and fairly.

Onsite property manager

An onsite property manager is different from an offsite property manager in that the former is usually focused on managing an entire property. They are present much of the time.

The property could be a community association, a shopping center, an apartment complex or even an office building. Their responsibilities include keeping the property safe, regularly inspecting communal equipment, facilities, and grounds. They must also organize and oversee maintenance and repairs when required.

An onsite manager must meet with prospective tenants when showing vacant units, and ensure that residents follow rental terms or lease contracts. This includes adhering to pet restrictions, parking restrictions, rent collection, and lease termination processes. It’s also important for an onsite manager to maintain accurate income and expenditure records as well as expense reports.

Real estate asset managers

Next you have real estate asset managers who operate on behalf of property investors or developers to buy, sell and develop real estate. Their role is to oversee the long-term financial and strategic planning as opposed to daily operations.

Real estate asset managers are valued for their ability to consider multiple factors when deciding on a property acquisition. They’ll take into consideration current property values, population growth, zoning laws, taxes, and even transportation variables. Upon choosing a site, the manager will negotiate a lease or purchase contracts in order to secure favorable terms for the investor.

The real estate asset manager must regularly review the investor’s real estate holdings to identify stagnant properties. They can then use this information to either reinvigorate the property or organize its sale. If the latter option is selected, the asset manager will then be responsible for terminating the lease on said property, advertise and negotiate its sale.


Community association manager

A community association manager is hired by an HOA to manage the community’s day-to-day operations, to facilitate communication with residents and oversee property maintenance. A community association manager is very similar to an onsite or general property manager in that they’re responsible for collecting monthly assessments, preparing the association’s budget and financial statements, facilitating complaint resolution, and negotiating with contractors.

It’s imperative for a community association manager to be well-versed in local, federal and state regulations in order to ensure that the community operates in a way that complies with said regulations.

The community manager is also tasked with the responsibility to maintain the community’s shared spaces. This includes overseeing access to communal areas such as the community pool and gym, golf courses, parking areas, and green space.

The community manager will also work closely with the board in order to improve operations and processes, and share information.

Work environment

Most property managers work from a physical office and use that as their administrative base. But this doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck in an office for your entire career; it depends on the type of manager you choose to become. For example, an onsite manager spends much of their time working outside of their office, liaising with maintenance staff, showing apartments or investigating resident disputes.

Similarly, a real estate manager is always in different neighborhoods looking for new opportunities. On the other hand, general property managers must communicate with residents and the HOA board on a regular basis. Since they’re responsible for preparing the annual tax and financial reports, they have to put in overtime during tax season and before annual general meetings.

Hands-on property managers must constantly be available to residents and HOA board members in times of emergencies. While you may not be required to work on weekends, you may need to show apartments on weekends or public holidays.

The challenges of being a property manager

One of the most challenging aspects of managing property is probably the fact that it’s a never-ending job. Your clients might buy or sell buildings with ease, but they’ll always need someone to manage new acquisitions for them.

Similarly, when you care for a community, or even a handful of clients, someone will always need a problem fixed. Change is constant, and you never know what to expect when you start your workday.

How much does a property manager earn?

The average property manager’s salary is about $57,040 annually. But that can change depending on where you work. In addition to their salaries, onsite property managers will also get free lodging.


Property management is a lucrative and rewarding career. Property managers are hired by landlords, investors, and HOAs to operate planned communities, investment assets, cooperatives, condominiums, and large properties such as office blocks and shopping malls.

We hope our guide has provided you with all the information you need to start your journey as a property manager.


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