This article discusses the licenses and certifications applicable to a professional residential property manager.
Though educational, they are not necessarily required for an independent Landlord.
There are distinct differences between the roles of a Landlord and a Property Manager. Sometimes, they are the same person, but often times they are not.
A landlord is the business or individual that owns the property (hence, “Lord of the Land”), while a property manager is the business or individual responsible for taking care of the property for the landlord.
The Manager’s Responsibilities
A property manager’s first responsibility is to the law, then to the landlord, followed by a responsibility to the tenant. The laws surrounding a landlord or a property manager vary from state to state, however, there are certain licenses and certificates that will help you succeed in growing your business and abiding in the law.
If you’re a landlord looking to hire a property manager, or a property manager looking to automate some of your work, consider trying out Cozy’s free property management software. It can help you screen tenants and collect rent more efficiently, and it’s free.
The Importance of Licenses and Certifications
Earning one or more property management certifications can be a valuable asset for your career, mainly because they will give you the authority and credibility to succeed. Many localities require you to obtain a separate property management license (i.e. passing a test and paying a fee) to manage real estate in that district. Always be sure to always follow your state, county, or city requirements.
Most of the licenses and certifications mentioned in this article are available through online instruction, although you will often need produce some form of documentation to validate your previous experience.
If you are interested in being a professional property manager, I would seriously consider getting one of these certifications, notably a real estate license and CMCA.
Top 5 Certifications & Licenses for Property Managers
Government Issued Real Estate Licenses & REALTOR® Membership
Many states require a property management company to hold a real estate broker license, especially if the company is responsible for rent collections, property listings or negotiating leases. As a property manager working under a management company, you may only be required to maintain a real estate salesperson license, but you are typically required to work under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker.
Property managers in some states such as Maine, Idaho and Vermont are not required to have a real estate license. Oregon, Montana and South Carolina are a few of the states that permit a property manager to work with a license in property management instead of a real estate broker license.
Real estate and broker licenses are awarded by the state governments, real estate boards, or local authorities in the area you wish to buy and sell properties. You are required to be licensed when conducting real estate transactions (buying/selling) in any of the fifty States of the United States, as well as in many countries internationally.
Please note: a real estate license is not the same as REALTOR certification through the National Association of Realtors (NAR) albeit, you will want to join NAR as well.
Awarded by the National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers (NBC-CAM) and created by the Community Associations Institute (CAI), this is one of most useful and practical certifications you can obtain. NBC-CAM adheres to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies’ (NCCA) guidelines and plays an active role in the careers of its members.
Members are actively kept up to date on the latest property management laws applicable to their state and are networked to other local CMCAs. However, members are also required to fulfill continuing education requirements to maintain the certification. If you are pursuing a career in property management, and expect to manage properties besides your own, I would highly recommend getting your CMCA certification.
Awarded by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), this is a highly recognized credential for property managers. NARPM offers designations to certify ethical and professional standards of conduct for property managers. The RMP program is similar to the CPM program, in that you will need to have a real estate license, have two years minimum experience and have managed at least 25 rental units during your candidacy period.
Other NARPM certifications include:
Awarded by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), this is one of the most highly respected form of credential in property management. However, the requirements are extensive and it is not easy to qualify. In order to become certified in property management you must be experienced and well-trained in every aspect of the business and are certainly encouraged to invest in rental properties yourself. You also must hold a real estate license or prove that you are not required to obtain a licensed in real estate from your locality.
Other IREM certifications include:
Awarded by the National Apartment Association (NAA) this is the best certification for you to earn if you primarily deal with apartment rentals. CAM certification programs are available online. In class CAM programs are scheduled by local and state affiliates. The program requires you to take a series of CAM courses, complete a project and pass the required examination.
Other NAA certifications include:
If you are investing overseas, remember that each country has their own set of rules. To learn more, check out the most common international licensing requirements.
In the US, the majority of accredited, online programs for a certificate in property management are undergraduate-level certificate programs. In most situations you are required to have earned either a high school diploma or a GED before you can enroll in an online program for property management certification or degree.
If you believe there is a national certification missing from this list, please tell us about it in the comments section below.