Top 5 Property Management Licenses & Certifications

Written on May 13, 2013 by , updated on January 3, 2017

Property Management Licenses and CertificationsThis 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


© National Association of Realtors

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.

CAI Logo


Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA)

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.


© National Association of Residential Property Managers

Residential Management Professional (RMP)

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:


© Institute of Real Estate Management

Certified Property Manager (CPM)

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:


© National Apartment Association

Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

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.


What’s Missing?

If you believe there is a national certification missing from this list, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

DISCLAIMER: All Logos and Trademarks are copyright of their respective owners. Landlordology does not represent nor is affiliated with these fine organizations.
photo credit: Giridhar-Photography via cc
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111 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Aleisha Armstrong

    Hi, I have previous experience in property management/leasing. I’d like to get back into this career. Can someone please tell me which route would I go to get recertified and licensed for Georgia or Florida?.

  • Manasa

    I have a 5yrs experience in real estate and want to pursue career in property management.Please confirm from which certification helps to fins good job.

  • Cynthia Rovinsky

    ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) is missing from this list

  • Brandy

    I am working on a BS in Business Management which I am sure is not enough to become a property manager. Can some one tell me what is the best way to become one.

  • Mari Ylse Vasquez

    My Property manager has show me a registration with the State, what other legal document i need anything else
    Please advise
    It hasn’t fill a W9 for

  • Leticia Allen

    I am interested in a career change in the future and would be interested in real estate/property management. What is the best way to get started in this industry? Which licenses/certificates would be best to start with and build from there?

    I appreciate the help!

    • Sherneron Jones

      I’m also interested in a career change in the future and would be interested in real estate/property management. I will like to know the best way to get started in this industry. Which licenses/certificates would be best to start with and build from there?

  • Lashawna

    I’m looking for a career change and would like to get more information on how to become CPM. Could someone please lead me in the right direction.

  • Tammy cline

    Looking to change career. Have 28 years retail management. Looking into property management. What training, certificates or liscense will I need for Indiana. Wanting to take courses before applying for jobs. Thanks

  • Sulaman K Niazi

    I am Major retd from Pakistan Army. After my military service, I established a Real Estate Consultancy Office in Pakistan and conducted Real Estate business in Sale, Purchase, Rental, Leasing and Property Management of designated houses, apts and commercial units for 22 years
    In Pakistan, no Real Estate License or Certification is needed for working in RE business. Now I am in New York and based on my long experience in RE field want to pick up Property Management job. Please advise as to how and what type of RE- Property Management Certificate, should I obtain thru some on line short course, so that I can qualify requisite Licensing or Certification Exam of New York State to manage a job in this sector.
    Sulaman Niazi.

  • Phanyos Jenhatkhun

    In Thailand, there is no law enforcing property managers. I am currently studying about obtaining a property management license. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    yours sincerely

    Phanyos Jenhatkhun

  • Krystle


    I have no experience as a Property Manager or Apartment Manager, but I am highly interested in these career paths. I am in the state of CA, but not sure where to start; however I do hold an Associates degree. I know a lot of these companies require 1 year experience or even 2 within the field, but again No experience. Can someone let me know helpful information. I would really appreciate it.


    I started in the business as a leasing agent for H.M. HECKLE at a A property at the time and i filled in as a manager as each property location current went on vacation. Moved to become a full fledged on site property manage with a company at the time was HOUSING AND APARTMENT OPERATIONS to which i moved up again, now i’m here looking to advance and excel here in Houston. 15 plus years all hands on training as we say (OJT). Now if you know of any one who needs a leasing consultant or property manager let me know.

  • Howard Perry

    The National Builders and Owners (NABO ) is missing from your list, the certification is Registered in Apartment Management ( RAM ).

  • Priscilla Soben

    I am interested in getting my LCAM license and would like to find out the requirements and the COST of this program? Thank you very much.
    Priscilla Soben/ email above..

  • Tim.Ayegbusi

    I have degree in civil engineering with good experience in building construction from Nigeria, West Africa.
    I’m interested in real estate, I need a good lead please.


  • GM Frazier

    your list is missing the BOMI certifications and designations

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