Property management certifications that give you the edge

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August 8, 2018
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August 15, 2018

Property management certifications that give you the edge

If you’re a property manager, or you’re thinking of becoming one, there are a number of licenses and certifications out there for you to consider. Depending on where you operate, some property management certifications are nice to have while others are essential. And while some states don’t require any formal licensure or certification, you may want to consider one or two to give yourself legitimacy and marketability.

Let’s take a look at the property management certifications and licenses out there, who administers them, and how they can help you boost your career.

Property Management Organizations

There are a number of professional organizations and all offer their own certifications. Joining one of these organizations gives a property manager clout. Once you join and complete a certifications courses, you can market yourself as having attained skills and expertise in the field, and you can use the organizations badge, or logo. You’ll also be listed in the organization’s directory and enjoy other benefits that give you an advantage in the property management market.

These organizations include:

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM): IREM is an international organization that boasts a membership of over 20,000. They offer internationally recognized training, certification, professional development course and networking opportunities for property managers.

The National Apartment Association (NAA): The NAA has more than 75,000 member companies around the world. With a heavy emphasis on philanthropy, it offers support, training and education for apartment owners and operators.

The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM): This is an international association of real estate professionals who operate single-family or small residential properties. Their certifications are recognized globally. Each year Buildium collaborates with NARPM to publish the report, The State of the Property Management Industry, which is launched at NARPM’s Annual Convention.

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

Property Management Musts

In most states, there are two things you need to become a property manager: a real estate broker’s license and a Certified Property Manager certification.

Real Estate Broker’s License or Property Manager’s License

Most states require a real estate broker’s license or a property manager’s license in order to handle rent, negotiate leases and list properties legitimately. There are only 10 states that don’t require you or the company you work for to hold a real estate broker’s license. Three of those states require a property manager’s license and Oregon requires either or. Both licenses require coursework, classes, sitting for an exam and continuing education to maintain the certification.

Certified Property Manager (CPM)

According to the NAR, “70 percent of those who hold the CPM designation hold the highest management positions in their offices (owner/partner/officer/director).” While this certification is not required by any state, it is the gold standard for property managers and also recognized internationally.

The CPM is administered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). You must manage a portfolio of properties for three years prior to applying and you must hold a real estate broker’s license. A course in management ethics is mandatory as well as seven other required courses before you sit for two exams.

PM Certifications to Boost Your Career

There are a whole array of other certifications that can help boost your career or increase the visibility of your management company. Deciding which certification track to pursue depends on which certifying organization best fits your professional goals.

Residential Management Professional (RMP)

The RMP is very similar to the CMP certification. It holds the same degree of recognition in the property management community and it has about the same prerequisites. It’s also the gateway to obtaining even more prestigious certifications with NARPM. To qualify for an RMP, you must already be managing 100 units for the past two years and hold a real estate broker’s license.

Master Property Manager (MPM)

An MPM is the next step after the RMP. This designation is the highest level a single member can attain within NARPM. You have to have already attained your RMP and managed 500 units over a five-year period. Once you’ve attained an MPM, your business is eligible to become a Certified Residential Management Company.

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Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)

ARM certification is meant to help newer property managers gain the knowledge they need to advance their careers. It would be a first step before going for a CPM.

In order to attain an ARM, you’ll need to have 12 months of qualifying residential estate management under your belt. You’ll also have to complete the required coursework and ethics class and sit for the exam.

Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

This certification is meant for those who handle apartment rentals only. To be a CAM, candidates have to have at least a year of onsite management experience, complete the coursework and sit for the exam within 12 months of declaring candidacy.

Company Certifications

Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC)

Once you or one of your employees attains an MPM, your company can apply to become a Certified Residential Management Company. This requires an onsite audit by NARPM within three years of applying. Your company must also have acquired 500 unit years of experience (one unit year = management of one unit for one year).

Accredited Management Organization (AMO)

Like the CRMC, this is a prestigious company certification that demonstrates expertise in your field. There is a pretty extensive list of requirements for your company to gain an AMO, including having an executive team member with a CPM. Check out this checklist for the full picture.


We’ve covered licenses and certifications. Whew! But we’re not done, yet. There are also continuing ed credentials to keep you competitive in the property management space. They include

Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT): This course is for new maintenance professionals, teaching cost-effective maintenance.

National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP): This course teaches leasing skills like generating traffic, conducting leasing demonstrations, overcoming objections and qualifying prospective residents.

Certified Apartment Supplier (CAS): This course is for new salespeople and helps industry veterans gain further knowledge of apartment community operations.

Independent Rental Owner Professional (IROP): The IROP credential program is for rental owners who personally hold and manage an apartment property or properties. They learn budget management, tax planning, preventative maintenance, energy efficiency and rental unit preparation as well as qualifying and retaining residents.

Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM): The Specialist in Housing Credit Management (SHCM) credential trains management professionals master the requirements of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.

Credential for Green Property Management (CGPM): The CGPM provides management companies and owners a mechanism for meeting initial and ongoing HUD Office of Affordable Preservation (OAHP) training commitments after opting for a green mark-to-market restructuring.

If you’re new to property management, another smart place to start is with a real estate broker’s license. Once you have that under your belt, you can talk to your employer or other property managers to determine the best property management certifications and credentials to meet you and your company’s goals.

Are there other certifications or credentials worth noting that help you stay competitive? Let us know in the comments!

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