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4 Steps to Becoming a Property Manager and Having a Career in Real Estate Management

By Laurie Mega
October 29th, 2020
Want to grow your property management company?
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If you have experience as a landlord or rental property investor, you’re probably very familiar with the ins and outs of managing rentals.

So familiar, in fact, that you might be thinking about starting your own property management business. If that’s the case, congratulations!

In 2018, property management was an $88 billion-a-year industry. And while rent growth has taken a hit from the pandemic, rising unemployment rates, and national eviction bans, there is still a demand for rental housing, and so a need for property managers.

There are some steps to become a property manager and skills that every property manager should have in their back pocket in order to be successful. In this article, we’ll discuss the tools you need and the steps you should take to become a property manager.

What are the Responsibilities of a Property Manager?

Before we jump into the steps it takes to become a property manager, let’s take a look at all the responsibilities and tasks a typical property manager handles.

Attracting New Tenants: Property managers market their properties and handle rental listings to attract prospective tenants.

Tenant Screenings and Lease Signings: Before a tenant can sign a lease, there is a screening process that includes credit and employment history, salary, and references. Property managers handle that process, as well as getting lease agreements signed once a tenant is approved.

Unit Turnover: When a tenant leaves a unit, the property manager will coordinate repairs and cleaning before the new tenants move in. They’ll also handle rekeying and sometimes utility turnover.

Rent Collection: Property managers collect rent from tenants, notify tenants when rent is late, and apply late fees when necessary.

Regular and Emergency Maintenance: Property managers will schedule regular and seasonal maintenance, and hire vendors to get the work done. They’re also available to handle emergency maintenance issues such as burst pipes or downed wires.

Eviction Processes: Should a tenant violate their lease agreement, it’s the property manager that handles the eviction process in accordance with state and local laws.

Compliance: A property manager is up-to-date on all housing regulations in their state and city, including the FHA and ADA requirements, and makes sure each property is in compliance.

Inspections: Finally, property managers handle all inspections for their properties, from unit inspections during move-out to regular internal and external inspections for needed repairs. They also handle inspections to make sure properties comply with all state and local regulations.

Right now, property managers are making sure all of their properties are complying with local, state, and national COVID regulations, as well.

Tenant Communications: A property manager acts as a go-between for tenants and owners. They handle all questions and issues tenants have and only filter up the only the issues the owner has to be involved in. On the flip side, the property manager handles any communications their owners have for their tenants.

This list covers the basic tasks every property manager handles. But there are other tasks a property management company might handle, such as special events and amenities or buying and selling rental properties.

Now let’s take a look at four steps you need to take to become a property manager

Step 1- Get Licensed

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First and foremost, you’ll need to hold either a real estate broker’s license or a property manager’s license in order to handle rent, negotiate leases and list properties legitimately.

Most states require you to hold a real estate broker’s license. Three states require a property manager’s license -- South Dakota, South Carolina and Montana – as well as the District of Columbia. Oregon requires either or, and 6 states don’t require you to be licensed at all. Those states are Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. 

Both licenses require coursework, classes, sitting for an exam and continuing education to maintain the certification.

Even if your state doesn’t require it, you may want to consider a real estate broker’s license. That license allows you to assist your owners in buying and selling properties.

Step 2- Look into Training Courses

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There are a number of places you can get property management training, from MOOCs like Udemy to courses from nationally and internationally recognized property management and real estate organizations.

For example, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) offers a host of management training courses from Property Management 101 to Marketing to Risk Awareness. Property managers who complete their course work and pass the exam can receive certification as a Residential Management Professional (RMP) and then Master Property Manager (MPM).

Step 3- Consider Professional Organizations and Certifications

To become a property manager, there are organizations that, while not necessarily a must to become a property manager, can give you initial training and certifications in property management, the opportunity to network, access continuing education opportunities.

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM): IREM is an international organization that offers training, certification, professional development courses and networking opportunities. Through IREM, you can become a Certified Property Manager, an internationally recognized certification that allows property managers to achieve senior-level, higher-paying jobs in property management.

The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM): This is an international association is exclusively for property managers who operate single-family or small residential properties. Their certifications, including the RMP and MPM certifications are recognized globally.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR): The NAR trains and certifies real estate professionals and offers professional development opportunities.

Step 4- Work on Your Soft Skills

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Once you’re licensed and certified, you’re pretty much ready to get started as a property manager. But to truly be successful, there are some soft skills that you should master.


Good communications are at the center of every successful property management business. Property managers communicate with a variety of people and personalities on a daily basis, from tenants and owners to vendors and government officials.


Negotiation skills come in handy when it comes time to sit down with prospective clients to hammer out the details of a contract. It’s also a great skill to have when handling leases and even maintenance issues with tenants.

Conflict Resolution

Inevitably, conflicts will arise from time to time. It could be a disagreement between neighbors at one of your properties, a tenant who feels a maintenance issue wasn’t handled well, or even and employee of yours who is having a problem with their job responsibilities.

Whatever the issue, good conflict resolution skills are a must.


Whether it be in your marketing strategy or in the way you handle an emergency. Creativity and the ability to think on your feet will be key to your business’s success.

And never has creativity been so important as it is now. With mandated lockdowns and social distancing protocols in place, property managers have had to think outside the box to keep their properties and their businesses running while keeping their owners, tenants and employees safe.

Marketing Essentials

Whether you are working for a property management company or even planning on starting your own someday, you should become versed in marketing strategies so you understand how you can get more clients to manage properties for.


Owners will be looking to you and your team to make important business decisions every day. A good leader will be able to make those tough calls and assure their clients that their properties are in good hands.

Wrapping Up

If you love working with people, you’re organized, and you have great communication skills, becoming a property manager can be a successful and rewarding career. Start with getting licensed, get some training courses under your belt, and consider some of the professional organizations and certifications that can help you get ahead.

Want to grow your property management company?
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