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The Modern and Definitive Guide to Property Management Certifications and Licenses

October 30th, 2020
Want to grow your property management company?
handing a certificate

So you’ve decided to become a property manager, or maybe you already are one. Whether you’re just now starting to do some research on certification and the property management/real estate industry or maybe you already have some experience in the field, either way, you’ve come to the right place.


If you’re at the introductory stage of your research, let’s take a look at what property managers do. As the title of the position suggests, property managers specialize in managing or handling the maintenance and administration of residential and commercial properties on behalf of landlords.


Therefore, a property manager’s operational duties can vary widely on a day-to-day basis. It can range from responding to a tenant about his clogged toilet one day to posting properties for rent online the next, to ensuring landlord-tenant laws and rental rate increases are handled properly the day after.


Considering the wealth of knowledge and diverse skills that property managers typically have, it is expected that there would be several licensers and certifications available that cover a myriad of topics about the industry. Let's get into the full-on guide covering these. 

What Licensing is Required for Property Management?

In most states, in order to conduct property management related activities such as negotiating leases, collecting rent, and advertising properties, it is mandatory that a property management company be affiliated with someone holding a real estate broker license. This is also often a requirement in order to start a property management business. The states that are the exception to this rule are listed below:


-District of Columbia (requires a property management license)






-Montana (requires a property management license)

-South Carolina (requires a property management license)

-South Dakota (requires a property management license)


In some instances, a property manager may only require a real estate salesperson license. However, he/she would still be expected to work under a licensed real estate broker. To understand the detailed differences between these licenses and to learn about their in-depth responsibilities and requirements, check here.


In short, the real estate broker license is awarded by respective state governments, real estate boards or local boards. It's important to check your specific state requirements to make sure you will be in standing with the legal requirements.


The prerequisites to apply for this license include an age and resident requirement, as well as relevant work experience (for example, years of experience as a licensed salesperson).


Once prospective brokers meet this criteria, a training course must be completed. Course topics include finance, accounting, business law, office administration, escrow, mortgage loan brokering and property management, to name a few. At the end of the course, persons must pass a written examination in order to obtain the license. On average, it can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months to complete the course and pass the examination. 


Real estate brokers are also expected to maintain their certification via continuing education programs. One of the best things you can do when just starting out is to talk to brokers that live in your state in order to gain more information about property management that’s specific to your area.

Now let's move on to certifications for property managers.

Why are Certifications Important to Property Managers?

One question people often ask is, if property management is such a hands-on field, why are formal credentials necessary? However, certifications provide a number of benefits:


-It can be a differentiating factor to position you ahead of your competitors

-It lets potential employers know that you are knowledgeable in the field

-It can assist in making you more marketable and advancing your career

-It encourages others to view you and your brand as professional and credible


Before we delve into the different certifications available, let’s take a look at the property management organizations that offer certifications. Once you join any of these  organizations, you can even use their badge or logo on your company website, which not only assists in making you more marketable but allows you to qualify for certifications under that organization/ awarding body.

Top Organizations for Property Management Certifications:

Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)

irem logo.png

This well established organization has been in operation for the past 85 years and provides thorough knowledge of real estate management in “dynamic challenges”. This makes their offerings unique by providing property managers with the skills to solve current and diverse issues.


The certifications offered by IREM are:


-Certified Property Manager

-Accredited Commercial Manager

-Accredited Residential Manager

National Apartment Association (NAA)


The NAA is a non-profit trade association highly recognized globally with regards to the multifamily housing industry. The vision of the NAA is “a world where rental housing is a valued partner in every community”. Their 82,000 members consist of property managers, apartment owners, investors, builders and related business professionals, to name a few. 


The certifications offered by NAA are:


-Certified Apartment Manager

-Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor 

-Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians

-Independent Rental Owner Professional Designation Course (more for Landlords)

-National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP)

The National Association of Rental Property Managers (NARPM)

narpm logo.png

This professional association is for real estate professionals who understand the one-of-a-kind challenges involved in managing residential properties. The NARPM currently has 6000 members consisting of property managers, real estate agents and brokers.  


The certifications offered by NARPM are:


-Residential Management Professional

-Master Property Manager

-Certified Residential Management Company

-Certified Support Specialist

-Certified Maintenance Coordinator

-Certified Residential Management Bookkeeper

National Association of Realtors (NAR)

national association of realtors.png

The NAR has over 1.4 million members. The association’s membership consists of property managers, residential and commercial brokers, salespeople and other real estate related professionals. 


Some of the relevant certifications for property managers offered by NAR are:


-Accredited Buyer’s Representative

-Certified International Property Specialist

-Certified Property Manager

-Certified Real Estate Broker Manager

-Certified Residential Specialist

-Counselor of Real Estate

-NARs Green Designation

-Graduate, REALTOR Institute

-Performance Management Network designation

-Real Estate Negotiation Expert

What are The Most Common Certifications for Property Managers From These Certifying Organizations?

Residential Management Professional (RMP)

Similarly to the CPM designation, this certification is also held in high regard. It is awarded by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). This designation is suitable for persons who have already managed at least 100 units within two years and are interested in advancing to the next level of their career. Persons applying for this certification are also required to have a real estate license. The designation is designed to help property managers hone their skills and thereby execute their job tasks to a higher standard. The application fee for the RMP certification is $150.

Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

The Certified Apartment Manager certification is awarded by the National Apartment Association. It is appropriate for property managers who mainly handle apartment rentals. This credential demonstrates that you understand how to manage apartment communities and you have the ability to assist landlords and property owners achieve their investment goals.


Prospective candidates for this certification are expected to have a minimum of one year onsite property management experience. Additionally, candidates are required to complete all eight modules of coursework and complete the four hour, two part online exam within six months of declaring candidacy. Fees for members are $115 per module and $865 for the full course. This course can be completed online and modules for this certification include topics such as, property inspections, apartment turnover process, preventative maintenance programs and accounting principles and practices. Courses within this certification can be taken individually or as the full program.


After earning your Certified Apartment Manager certification, it is mandatory to renew your credential annually. The renewal process is six hours of continuing education and $100 fee.

Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) 

This international certification is a valuable one for property managers who want to be involved in HOA (homeowners association) management. It is awarded by the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB).

Property managers with this certification have demonstrated that they gained the necessary skills and thoroughly understand how to manage condominium associations and cooperatives. Persons interested in obtaining this qualification are required to complete and pass one prerequisite course about community association management. However, this requirement may be waived if you have a minimum of five years experience as a community association manager.


Prospective certificate holders can also bypass the education and experience requirements if they already have one of the following licenses or credentials:


-Nevada Community Association Manager (CAM)

-Illinois CAM

-Florida CAM 

-Colorado CAM

-California Certified Community Association Manager (CCAM)

-Certified Arizona Association Manager (CAAM)


The application fee, exam and first year of certification for the CMCA costs $315. The fee to retake the exam is $150.

Wrapping Up

Those are the most marketable and highly recognized property management certifications and designations. And now that you have more information about each of these credentials, you can make an informed decision about which qualification will best meet your needs and assist you in obtaining your goals.


For someone who is new to property management, a good starting point is to work on getting a real estate license. However, for anyone in the industry, acquiring at least some of these skills will definitely give you a competitive edge to advance your career in the years to come!

If you need help with growing and expanding your property management company online, get in touch with Goodjuju today for a free consultation/analysis about improving your marketing so you can get found online and grow! 

Want to grow your property management company?
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