Careers in Real Estate Management
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are many aspects to the care and management of commercial and residential property and real estate. Careers in this field include property management, real estate sales and lodging management. See how they compare in the table below:
|Property Manager||Real Estate Sales Agent or Broker||Lodging Manager|
|Career Overview||Property managers see to the overall appearance and efficient operation of a commercial or residential property.||Real estate brokers and sales agents facilitate the buying, selling and rental of property.||Lodging managers see to the efficient operation of a guest facility and ensure that guests have a pleasant stay.|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's or master's degree is preferred||High school diploma and real estate courses||Postsecondary degree is preferred|
|Program Length||4-6 years||Varies depending on courses||2-4 years|
|Certification and Licensing||Some states require property association managers to be licensed; managers of federally subsidized public housing must be certified||Licensure is required||Licensure is not required|
|Experience Required||Experience in real estate sales is helpful||No experience is necessary to become an entry-level agent; brokers are required to have 1-3 years of experience as agents||Hotels may require qualifying work experience|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||As fast as average (8%)*||Slower than average (3%)*||As fast as average (8%)*|
|Mean Annual Salary (2014)||Roughly $65,000*||Roughly $55,000 for agents and $80,000 for brokers*||Roughly $57,000*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Property, Real Estate and Community Association Managers
According to the BLS, there are a number of different managerial or supervisory specialties that fall under the umbrella of property, real estate or community association management. Among these are real estate asset managers, who direct the sale and purchase of properties. This position requires a state license. Property and real estate managers supervise the operation of income-producing properties, which may be residential or commercial in nature.
Onsite property managers oversee the daily operation of a single commercial or residential property, and they may be required to live on premises. Community association managers supervise a homeowner or community association in the efficient conduct of communal business, rules and regulations. They generally are hired by and answer to a board of directors.
The BLS notes that most property managers are required to have a certain amount of qualifying work experience, such as that acquired in real estate sales. While theoretically the only education background necessary is a high school diploma or GED, most employers prefer to hire a manager who has completed a formal postsecondary education program. Typically, employers look for individuals who hold a bachelor's or master's degree in such areas as real estate management, accounting, finance or business administration.
If you're involved in buying and selling property, you'll need a state real estate license. Obtaining a real estate license typically entails completing a number of appropriate courses and sitting for an examination.
Though not officially required, employers may prefer you to be certified. Organizations that offer certification options include the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Residential Property Managers, National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers and Institute of Real Estate Managers.
Below are some examples of ads for property managers that were running in December 2012:
- A staffing company in California wanted to hire individuals to fill on-site and off-site property manager positions. Though the employer would consider candidates who held a high school diploma, those who held a bachelor's degree were preferred. The employer gave preference to candidates who were certified as an Accredited Residential Manager, bilingual and had one year of experience in the affordable housing environment.
- In Michigan, a social services agency was seeking a full-time property manager. Candidates were to have accumulated three years of experience in HUD and conventional property management, as well as hold or be eligible for the Certified Property Manager (CPM) credential. Industry designations, such as Assisted Housing Manager (AHM) or Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS), were also taken into consideration.
- A property management and consulting firm in Florida was looking for a full-time property manager. Candidates were to hold a Florida Community Association Manager (CAM) license and have accumulated three years of property management experience. Candidates were to be willing to be on call 24/7 and were to be bilingual in Spanish and English.
According to the BLS, it can be beneficial to obtain a bachelor's degree in an industry-appropriate area, such as real estate management. A state license to buy and sell real estate can only broaden your employment and advancement possibilities. Experience in property management and in sales can also serve to heighten your job prospects. One or more certifications can stand in testimony about your commitment to the profession.
Real Estate Sales Agent and Broker
As simply stated by the BLS, real estate brokers and sales agents help individuals buy, sell or rent a property. A real estate broker is licensed to operate a real estate office or agency. A sales agent, while licensed, must work with a broker and is not allowed to operate an agency. In most cases, an agent or broker will represent a buyer or seller. As noted by the NAR, in some cases, an agent, broker or agency may represent both parties in a single transaction. This is what's known as disclosed dual agency. In these cases, the professional acts more as a facilitator to the transaction and must keep each side's information separate as a go between. Partially because it's difficult to avoid conflict of interest in the practice of dual agency, it is illegal in some states.
You can qualify to become a real estate agent if you hold a high school diploma. However, the BLS makes mention of the fact that some employers prefer to hire agents who have had some postsecondary courses in real estate or hold an appropriate degree. You can find individual real estate courses and degree programs offered on campus and online.
All states and the District of Columbia require agents and brokers to be licensed. In order to be licensed as a sales agent, you must successfully complete a number of real estate courses and sit for an examination. In order to become a broker, you must accumulate 1-3 years of qualifying work experience as a real estate sales agent, complete additional course work and sit for a more thorough examination. You can determine your state's licensure requirements through the NAR.
Here is what come employers were seeking in December 2012:
- A limited liability real estate corporation was looking for an individual to become the Broker of Record for one of their New York offices. Candidates were to hold a state broker's license and to have had 3-10 years of work experience. Candidates were to have been experienced in managing a team of sales agents. Candidates were also to have had considerable experience in real estate owned (REO) and short sale management.
- A vacation resort in Florida was looking for a full-time sales agent. Candidates who held a high school diploma were considered, but the employer preferred candidates who held a bachelor's degree. Two years of experience working with timeshare sales was also preferred, as well as fluency in Spanish and English.
- A Nevada resort was seeking a full-time sales agent. Candidates were to have at least one year of experience in the industry and hold a valid state sales agent's license. Candidates were to have strong computer and communication skills. Prior vacation ownership experience was a plus.
One guaranteed way to stand out is to get some formal, postsecondary training in real estate, such as an undergraduate degree. Since you can only become a broker after 1-3 years of experience as a sales agent, you may want to use that time to obtain one or more certifications, like those offered by the NAR. Some certification courses may also be used as continuing education credits in order to comply with your license renewal requirements.
People's business trips, vacations or travel outings would arguably be less pleasant or productive without the services of a lodging manager. Responsible for all facets that make up the efficient operation of an establishment and the needs and comfort of its clientele, a lodging manager is the lynchpin of a hotel, motel or resort. Smaller establishments may employ only one individual who oversees the general operation as well as day-to-day functions. In addition to an overall general manager, larger venues may require the services of specialized managers in areas such as events, front office, revenue, food services and promotions management
The BLS mentions that if you hold a high school diploma, you may become a manager by way of the traditional method of extensive on-the-job training and experience. However, due to the sophistication and complexity of large, full-service hotels, most require that their managers hold a bachelor's degree. A smaller establishment may only require a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree. Trade schools, community colleges and vocational schools may offer programs that lead to a certificate or associate's degree. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) provides an online directory of accredited degree-granting schools that offer appropriate programs.
Here are a few employers who were seeking lodging managers in December 2012:
- A hotel in Texas wanted to hire a full-time general manager. Candidates were to have proven leadership experience and have worked in the industry as a general manager for at least six years. The employer preferred that candidates held a degree in business or accounting and that they were bilingual in Spanish and English.
- An Arizona hotel was looking for a full-time general manager. Candidates were to have accumulated five years of industry experience, at least three of which were as a general manager. Candidates were to exhibit a positive attitude, be able to work under pressure and be accomplished problem solvers. Familiarity with the hotel brand and others like it would stand in the candidate's favor.
- A not-for-profit, organ procurement organization was seeking an individual to act as weekend and relief general manager of the organization's on-site, temporary family quarters. Primary responsibility was to be the 24-hour per day weekend operation. Candidates were to hold a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related field and have at least one year of industry experience in a management capacity.
You can distinguish yourself in the industry by completing a degree program in an area such as hospitality management, business administration or accounting. You may further stand out by completing courses that can enhance your professional development and serve as an indication of your commitment to the company. The BLS states that you can set yourself apart by being willing to relocate to another city or state, in order to gain experience within the industry or the specific organization for which you work.