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

  • Flavia Volkov

    I hold a RE Liscence in Florida for 10 years. Right now, I work for a developer as an inside sales agent. But, I really would like to manager residential hi-rises, condominiums or apartment communities. I noticed that it is a stable job that can pay from a $40k- $120k salary.
    What Liscence would suite me better?! I see lot of people with LCAM. And is it the same as a CAM Liscence? Or you suggest to go straight to

    Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Flavia,

      I suggest you meet up with some local licensed professionals and ask why they chose one license over another. Specially, meet with a company with whom you’d like to join. Ask them what license they prefer, and then go get that.

    • Mike

      Lucas I only Part Right. I am a former Property Manager and was licensed in Florida during my 6 year career. It is not glamorous. If you think it is a “stable” job, you have another thing coming! Imagine this for example, The board can change every year and that person that got snubbed by your former assistant suddenly is the board new president, did not forget that moment under your supervision, and wants your head! Suddenly you are thrown back into the tumbler in corporate looking to interview for a manager position at other properties! Not to mention, after gaining tenure, vacation is near impossible with a demanding board of directors. You will have no life in “Luxury Hi-Rise”. FL = Community Association Manager, Lic. (LCAM = CAM)

      • Luis A Cruz

        You are absolutely correct… I’m a property manager at a co-op now and it’s like walking on eggs … I have 7 different bosses with own agendas and personalities. On top of that my co-op is mostly 60+ year old retirees that have nothing better to do but complain complain complain…. I should’ve stood in residential … stay away from bored … to up and down … most of them fight against each other or fight with residents .. it’s crazy ..

      • Kissbell

        Hii Mike, so let me ask you here in Florida is mandatory or optional de property management lic? You have the CAM, right

      • Eldon

        Mike, LCAM is managing associations and is often confused with property management. And, you are correct, it can be very rocky. Property Managers (ARM’s, CAM’s, CPM’s, CAPS) are all great designations for someone looking for a career. Valencia College in Orlando is beginning a Residential Property Management A.S. degree program which will give career credit as well as prepare students for the National Apartment Association’s CAM designation.

      • Alice

        If you want to manage property in the state of Florida the CAM license is the most important license to have. (LCAM is the same as a CAM) The CAM test and license are administered and regulated by the state. In Florida, especially south Florida, there is a sea of condominiums and a CAM license is required to manage these buildings. Condominiums must abide by strict state laws and statutes and a CAM must be knowledgeable and remain updated on all of them. Accounting principals are also an immensely important set of skills to have along with construction knowledge. It is not stable employment and a thick skin is absolutely necessary.

    • Eldon Warfield

      Flavia, I am affiliated with both NAA and IREM. If you would like to discuss your career path please feel free to contact me.

      • Margaret Johnson

        Hi Mr. Warfield, I’ve been in property management for over 20 years, I would like to kick off my career to the next level with a designation. I do have an 4 year degree (BA) not in real estate but I have taking most of all the RE classes in junior college. Out of CPM , CAM or ARM which designation would you recommend?

        • Eldon Warfield

          Hi Margaret,
          With 20 years of management I would suggest the CPM. The CAM and ARM are fantastic designations for site managers. If you’ve been a site manager then you very likely would be able to breeze through the CAM and ARM. Neither designation will help you get to the next level. To move up, the CPM is definitely the route and it will be beneficial for many years to come. Let me know if I can help get you the application as well as put you in touch with your local IREM chapter. Where are you located ?

          • Margaret Johnson

            Thanks so much, Mr. Warfield for giving me such valuable information. Your advice was priceless, I appreciate you spending the time in making my career pathway very clear in my designation. Yes, I would be obliged if your able to direct me through the application process, plus connect we with the right chapter. What information do you need from me?
            Thanks again,

            • Eldon Warfield

              How long have you been in the business ?
              Who do you work for ?
              Where do you live ?

              I’ll email you everything.


              • Brittney James

                Hello Mr. Warfield,

                I just signed up for an associate membership in effort to peruse my CPM designation. Can you please email me this information as well? There is a lot to sort through but I want to actively persue the destination asap. I have been in the industry for 10 years and currently work for a well known full service commercial real estate firm.

  • Rodney Pressley

    I am very interested in becoming a property mgr. But I’m overwhelmed by so many certificates and licenses. I am not a real estate agent, but it is on my bucket list. Where do I start?

    • Lucas Hall

      I suggest checking with your state and county requirements to manage property. Some times you need a real estate license, other times you need a separate management license. Your state Real Estatr Board would be a great place to start.

  • Brenda Outlae

    I am s 54 years old retired teacher and my father owns rental property .He wants to pass down all of his rental property for me to manage.
    I feel like I need to take some classes to get prepared to handle whats before me. I looked at courses offered at the community colleges in my area and they only offer real estate classes. Can you help me to figure out what I need to do?

  • Mick

    looking to get into this field when I retire in a couple of years.
    Currently own a property that I rent out, but no other RE experience.
    What is the best path for me?
    I have read some things that lead me to believe that I need hours /years of experience in the industry before I can proceed.
    What do you recommend?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mick,

      I wish I could help, but I couldn’t possibly pick the best certification or license for you. I suggest you reach out to a experienced property manager or real estate agent in your area and ask them to mentor you for a few weeks while you learn more about the industry and find your direction.

  • Chinwe Ogwo

    I am an estate surveyor and valuer in Nigeria with 3 years experience in property and facility management. Currently doing a Masters study at Rivers State University of science and Technology Port Harcourt. would fancy an opportunity to work with any reputable property management firm in the U.S.

  • Patrick Abernathy

    I’m currently looking for a new career. I had a friend talk with about property management. He’s been in property management. I’ve been really curious since then. If this was something to pursue, where would I start? I’m obviously looking for an entry level role.


    I hold a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and a RE Licence in New York State with 2 years. Recently, I get a Property Manager position. But, I really don’t have the experience property management experience. So, what do you suggest and comment in my situation to become a property manager and what kind of license or certificate should i start? please comment…

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tuck

      I suggest you talk to the property management company that you just got a job with. The certification that they value the most would be a good place to start.

  • Gail Badger

    You are missing the RAM, Registered in Apartment Management, designation. This certification program is the most sought after as it is sponsored by the National Associated Builders and Owners which is a sub set of the National Association of Home Builders … which is the largest builders association in the country.

    The RAM program offers a basic RAM, Advanced RAM and the CLP designation (Certified Leasing Professional.)

    We are by far the most comprehensive multifamily housing designation in the country.

    • Keyetta Jones

      Hi Gail,

      I am a Property Manager who received my Designation as C-PHM (Certified Public Housing Manager) with NAHRO. I fear this designation although is national may not be recognized in the State of New York. Should I take the Ram as well or is it not needed?

      • Gail

        Absolutely. RAM provides what you need to obtain an excellent foundation as a property manager.
        If you have a passion for managing property… The RAM program is for you… And it is valid in the continental United States and the Virgin Islands… Check us out.

  • Jan

    I’ve been an on site property manager for over 25 years. The corporations want much more experience from managers these days, such as property finances and budgeting.
    Which certificate do you recommend to get back into the work field?
    Thank you,

  • Franco

    Dear Sir or Madame;

    I am the majority owner of two commercial investment properties in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Other family members have minor interests.
    None of us live in Nevada.
    Do I need to be licensed as a manager?
    If I renew the leases, do I need to be a licensed Broker?

    If you could refer me to any statutes I would be grateful.

  • Lloyd Brown

    Missing is the PHM – Public Housing Management, which is common among management of public housing communities.

  • Gareth Jones

    The Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC) offers industry-leading credentials representing all sectors of the real estate industry and is the exclusive provider of IREM’s property management designations in Canada!

  • May Garcia

    Good Afternoon,
    I’m currently looking into taking a RAM certified course. I did not see this on the list is it not as important? or is it just best to skip that and take the courses listed, As I have been a leasing consultant for 5 years and would like to take the steps necessary for the next level in my education and career. Thank You in advance for your time!

    • Gail

      Check out the RAM program. We are the best. Call 2123854949.Ask for Dan… Tell him Gail referred you… I am a RAM Dean

  • Rena

    Currently I’m a RE and I rent out my investment property myself for the last 10 years. I’m looking into managing other people’s property on a small scale. Do I need to get my Property Management certification if I’m doing this on a small scale?

  • Jowanna Diarassouba

    I need to start from the beginning in order to be a sufficient property manager. I have helped a property owner with their property.

  • Gail

    RAM is missing.. It is an educational offering from the National Associated Builders and Owners of the National Association of Home Builders… Which means we are the largest organization offering property management education courses.


    Living in PA and want to relocate to NC. Currently manage a tax collection payment center for 4 years. I want to change my specialty to property management and am preparing to make my move in 9 months. I need to have a job lined up before I make the move. I am a great manager. What would be the best way to get CAM certification? I read that you have to complete course and have 12 months experience before you can receive credentials.
    I am afraid I won’t be able to obtain a position without these credentials. Given the change in state and the condition that I have to have 12 months experience in property management, I’m thinking I should wait until I move to NC. Looking for some guidance on best way to make this transition into Property Man

  • Valerie A. Sarmento

    CCIM – Certified Commercial Manager
    RPA – Real Property Adminstrator

    both commercial designations

  • Alece

    Any insight on licenses required for short-term rental property management?

  • JoAnn

    Is it legal to charge rent for a basement apartment with no windows or ventilation in PA?

  • Eldon

    Contact me for information regarding The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) or the National Apartment Association (NAA). Both of these organizations are great paths to rewarding careers. If you are in the Orlando, Florida area contact me regarding Valencia College’s Residential Property Management program. This too would be a fantastic career path. It has the support of NAA and The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando (AAGO). Orlando’s local industry professionals are backing the program and a degree in this program will prepare graduates for the NALP and CAM designations. Internships will also be available. Contact me for further details if you’re interested.

  • Kimberly Basford


    I’ve been in the apartment management industry for over 20 years and would like to achieve my certificates in CAM, and RAM. I would greatly appreciate information, and cost please.

    Thank you kindly.

    Kimberly Basford

  • Alicia H.

    Missing RPA, Real Property Administrator with BOMI.

  • Noma Sikuri

    I hold a diploma in Business Management from the Fiji Islands. I have 10 years plus of management experience. I have permanent residency here. I live in Sacramento CA and i want to pursue an Apartment Management Program online.Can you advice me on the courses i should take or direct me to a preferred and well recognized link or organisation.
    i would prefer to do this course online.

    thank you

  • Russell Avery

    I think PHM (Certified Public Housing Manager) should be on the list.

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