5 Amazing Tips for Growing Your Property Management Career

A recent story on CNN noted that being in the commercial rental property management business is one of the best 50 jobs to have with median salaries of around $75,000.   The story further states that our industry has a personal satisfaction rating of "A" and a job security rating of "B."  While not recession-proof, its pretty close!

Becoming a professional in rental property management is a distinct profession with solid growth prospects—growth projections in residential property management jobs range from 8 to 18% over the next ten years.  For the entire industry, job growth will mirror the rate of population growth at about 1% per year.

residential property management,property management training,property management jobs,Residential Property Manager

Residential Property Management Jobs Are on the Rise

High growth in residential property management jobs is excellent news for new and experienced rental property management professionals and job seekers.  Job growth, security, and job satisfaction are ingredients of a promising career in property management for those who take the time to learn the business.  It is a specialized field, so to win jobs, you need to stand out from the crowd.

Property management training and certification(s) are the keys to unlocking these opportunities.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Growing Your Career in Residential Property Management:

1. Education and property management training are essential.

Property owners know the best method for securing consistent revenue and maintaining expenses is to have well-trained people- they know this is a substantial investment.  With education, you create a transferable skill set in that it will carry your through an entire residential property management career with opportunities with various real estate-related companies all over the country.  Indeed, real estate cannot manage itself.

In Farmington, New Mexico, rental property will need property management the same as a rental property in Orlando, Florida. Or Flint Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi.  Property owners will always need property managers.

For maximum property management job opportunities, a four-year college degree or industry training is the right place to start—a major in real estate, business, or communications compliments a career in property management. The real thinking time comes in before you enter the profession considering your career objectives.

Real estate, like law, has many career tracks. Finding one you enjoy is vital for job satisfaction.  First, identify those specializations in high demand and match them with your area of interest.  By doing this, you provide yourself with maximum flexibility in the job market while first learning, then working in your field of choice.

2. Professional Credentials in Rental Property Management are a MUST!

Adding to your credentials sets you apart from the competition and confirms your commitment to the profession.  Beyond a college degree, advanced training affirms your willingness to devote time, energy, and effort to become a knowledgeable professional.

The best time to gain credentials is early in your career, as this allows for increases in responsibility.  More responsibility leads to more assets under “your” management.  Having a more extensive portfolio of assets indicates faith in your skills, and this trust will lead to higher salary increases.

Training for property management can come in many forms. Formal coursework does take longer, yes.  But the rewards are there for those that finish the work and are prepared to enter the property management field with the added credentials. When considering designations, the right one depends on the size and type of residential rental property managed and whether your interest is in site management or asset management.  Here are a few to consider.

  • CPMCertified Property Manager is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) The certification is recognized by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) throughout the United States.  This designation is the most established and takes the longest to acquire.  It is well known and has a high level of acceptance industry-wide.
  • ARM –Accredited Resident Manager is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).
  • CAM – Certified Apartment Manager is a professional designation awarded by the National Apartment Association (NAA).
  • CAPS – Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor is a professional designation awarded by the National Apartment Association (NAA).
  • RAM – Registered in Apartment Management is a professional designation awarded by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

3.  Be a thought leader in rental properties.

As your career and experience advance, the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, you have become a valuable resource.  With time and age, people expand their knowledge from learning to doing to teaching. The next step after teaching is training. You can advance to “training the trainer’ status.  Training can be exclusively within your company or at industry trade shows and symposiums. As a leader, people will want to connect with you - embrace this.

With experience, consider sharing your knowledge with the talented up and coming professionals following in your footsteps.  Sharing your intelligence can sometimes change the perspective and enhance outputs throughout an entire organization.

4. Incorporate new technology in your market.

Be prepared to stay current.  It is also essential to become the first one to try out new tech in beta.  There is no downside to being well-read.  The technology cycle continues to shorten.  Seldom is there a full twelve months between new releases of anything technology-based.  Tech is extraordinarily fluid as many software programs and online platforms are on a continual/automatic update mode.  You cannot ignore this.

Today we discuss social media and tablets, tomorrow these forms of communications will have “adapted” to the next cycle of technological rendition.  Right now, transitioning residents to secure electronic rent payments is all the rage.  Tomorrow this will be a standard operating procedure.  Staying technologically relevant should rule your professional life.  It is the “lifeblood” of making sure your skills are applicable in the marketplace.

5. Residential Property management extends outside your backyard.

Residential property management has a presence around the world.  With training and language skills, the world is your oyster in terms of job opportunities.  If you are mobile, consider accepting the job with the best fit for you no matter the location - anywhere that fits your fancy; London, Athens, Bahrain.

Travel. Cross some borders. Our current state of affairs will pass. Get a passport and expand the job search to companies and countries that desire your services.  As a subject matter expert in rental property management (PM), your potential employers are coast-to-coast and internationally.

Career choice is very much like taking a road trip; no matter where you start, it’s always easier to get to the destination when the journey is planned out well in advance.  Choosing a career in rental property management requires interacting with people of every stripe.

Remember to think twice and speak once.  It is an engaging and rewarding profession.  Once you have decided to make property management your business, then jump in with both feet!  No two days will be alike; no two residents will have the same issues.


One last bonus tip is if you don't like people, stay away from working in rental and residential property management.

As a property management professional, it's all about the people; our customers, vendors, suppliers, investors, owners, and lenders. Everyone plays an essential role in making multifamily property work well, operationally, and financially.  And they will all need you to do your best work.

Want to learn all about rent roll analysis?  Click here.

John Wilhoit is the author of the best selling book on rent roll analysis: How to Read and Rent Roll. See also the companion guide to measuring the quality of rental income: Rent Roll Triangle.  Find JW's Podcast here.

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