How to Be a Property Manager: Skills, Steps, and Strategies

This comprehensive guide explores the vital skills, legal requirements, and practical steps necessary to become a successful property manager. Learn about the diverse responsibilities, certification paths, and strategies for career advancement in property management.

Gemma Smith
Last Updated
February 8, 2024
How to Be a Property Manager: Skills, Steps, and Strategies

Ready to step into the world of property management and become a property manager? A property manager requires a strategic blend of skills, certifications, and practical experience.

But where do you begin, and what are the legal requirements? Our direct guide covers essential education, licensure details, and key skills you’ll need to manage properties efficiently.

Discover the pathway to your first property management role and the strategies for growth in this dynamic career field.

Exploring the property manager role

The role of a property manager is multifaceted, encompassing the oversight of various property types within a property management business. These types include:

  • Residential properties
  • Commercial spaces
  • Industrial facilities
  • Special-purpose properties

A property manager may operate independently or be affiliated with a management company. This role demands an in-depth knowledge of the distinct management needs of various property types.

Responsibilities in property and management firms are unified by the overarching aim of ensuring seamless operations on a day-to-day basis. Yet, the specifics of these duties can differ greatly. For example, managing industrial or commercial properties often requires dealing with robust construction materials and complex maintenance issues. Many property management companies employ specialized teams to cater to different property types' unique demands and challenges.

To excel as a property manager, comprehending and adapting to each property type's unique aspects and challenges is crucial. Each property presents its requirements, from residential and national apartment complexes to commercial buildings, and a competent property manager must be adept at addressing these diverse needs.

Key skills for success in property management

To excel in property management, a distinct skill set is key. Among the most important is effective communication, which is central to achieving tenant satisfaction, maintaining properties, ensuring efficient rent collection, and fostering trust and transparency with property owners.

Organizational skills are equally essential in this field, enabling property managers to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, meet various deadlines, and maintain tenant satisfaction. Additionally, problem-solving is a key competency, requiring critical thinking and the capacity to develop solutions for various challenges.

Adaptability is another required skill for property managers. It allows them to quickly respond to changing regulations, market shifts, tenant requirements, and to manage emergencies effectively. Combined with relevant property management certifications, these skills form the foundation of a successful career in this field.

Legal requirements and licensing

To become a licensed property manager, one must fulfill certain legal and educational prerequisites. It’s not just about having the skills and passion for the job; it’s also about being legally qualified to practice in your state.

State licensing requirements

The licensing requirements for property and real estate managers vary considerably across the United States. Some states like Idaho, Maine, and Vermont do not mandate a real estate license specifically for property management. On the other hand, states like Montana, Oregon, and Kansas require a property management license, especially for residential property management.

Engaging in property management without the appropriate state license can result in significant legal and financial repercussions. These can include substantial fines, restitution, and potential criminal charges, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the state's laws.

Real estate license vs. Property management license

Discerning the difference between real estate and property management licenses is vital. While a real estate license enables individuals to buy, sell, or rent properties, a property management license is more specifically geared toward managing properties on behalf of owners.

Real estate licenses function for purchasing, selling, and leasing properties. In contrast, a property management license allows individuals to manage and supervise rental properties. There may also be disparities in the educational prerequisites for each license.

Possessing both a real estate license and a property management license is imperative in the property management field. It is a legal requirement and signifies professionalism and proficiency in the real estate industry. Engaging in property management without the necessary license can lead to legal and financial repercussions.

Gaining experience in the industry

The path to becoming a successful property manager is significantly enriched by gaining practical experience in the industry. This experience is typically acquired through diverse internships, each offering unique insights into various facets of property management, including brokerage, capital markets, development, and residential and commercial with onsite property management experience.

One effective way to immerse oneself in the field is by working under a licensed broker, who often plays the dual role of a real estate and leasing agent. This opportunity provides hands-on experience in key areas such as property transactions, leasing, tenant management, and various operational tasks essential to property management.

Another avenue is joining a property development company. Here, the experience goes beyond the routine aspects of a property management company. It delves into activities like enhancing property values, attracting high-quality tenants, realizing a developer's vision, and refining organizational and communication skills.

The tasks and projects undertaken in these roles offer invaluable insights and a practical understanding of the property management industry, laying a solid foundation for a career in this dynamic field.

Finding your first property manager job

Securing your first job in property management can be quite challenging. However, leveraging the power of networking can help. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Attend industry events.
  • Become a member of professional associations.
  • Engage in online forums and groups.
  • Seek mentorship.
  • Foster amicable relationships with other industry professionals.

These networking efforts can open doors.

Online job search websites like and feature job listings from reputable property management companies, providing job seekers a wide range of opportunities.

Directly contacting local property management firms and companies is also an effective strategy. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Assess their workload by considering the number of properties they manage.
  2. Clearly define your needs and preferences for the role.
  3. Proactively contact the management companies to express interest and inquire about job opportunities.

This approach can help you land your first job in property management, especially for those seeking positions as assistant property managers at an established property management firm.

Advancing your property management career

Landing your first job in property management is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning — advancing your career requires continuous learning and improvement. Certifications such as the following can be beneficial for professional and financial growth in your career:

  • Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)
  • Certified Professional Manager (CPM)
  • Certified Residential Manager (CRM)
  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)
  • Residential Management Professional (RMP)
  • Master Property Manager (MPM)

Additionally, utilizing property management software like Azibo can provide the following benefits:

These tools can streamline operations and enhance overall efficiency for property managers.

Keeping up with industry trends

Keeping abreast of industry trends and developments is essential in advancing your career. Here are some strategies to help you stay at the forefront of the property management field:

  • Evaluating current circumstances.
  • Adopting digital transformation.
  • Prioritizing tenant retention.
  • Broadening portfolio.
  • Allocating resources to market research and education.

By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that you are up to date with the latest trends and developments in property management.

Become a property manager with confidence

Embarking on a career in property management is more than just a professional choice; it's a journey of continuous learning and adaptation. From securing your first job through strategic networking and tapping into resources to advancing your career with certifications and embracing innovative property management software like Azibo, the path to success is multifaceted.

Staying informed about industry trends, embracing digital transformation, and prioritizing tenant retention is key to keeping pace and leading in the property management sector. As you navigate through the complexities and rewards of this profession, remember that your journey in property management is a blend of skill, experience, legal knowledge, and the right tools, all contributing to a fulfilling career that shapes the landscape of real estate management.

Become property manager FAQs

What is required to be a property manager in NC?

To be a property manager in North Carolina, you must be a licensed real estate broker.

What is required to be a property manager in Utah?

To be a property manager in Utah, you must obtain a real estate license if you perform specific property management duties for others, including advertising homes for lease, negotiating rent payments and lease terms, and executing rental agreements.

What are the responsibilities of a property manager?

A property manager's responsibilities include rent collection, property inspections, tenant management, and property maintenance.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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