Property Manager Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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Learn about a property manager's job description, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a property management career.
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A Property Management Career: Pros and Cons

Job duties of a property manager depend on the size and type of the estate (such as a house, office or mall), but usually involve increasing property value, negotiating leases and handling rent collection. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of a property management career.

Pros of a Property Management Career
Almost half (46% in 2010) are self-employed*
May receive extra compensation for work on nights and weekends*
May have housing allowance**
Sense of responsibility and ability to make independent decisions**
Possibility to participate in property ownership**

Cons of a Property Management Career
Long workdays that may include off-duty tasks, like tending to building or tenant emergencies*
Dealing with tenant complaints*
May have to haggle with tenants for rent or be the one to alert them of evictions*
Lifelong learning to keep up with technology may be necessary**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Institute of Real Estate Management.

Job Description, Specialization Options and Salary Information

Job Description and Duties

As a property manager, you might be in charge of one property or several. Increasing property value is a primary responsibility. Negotiating leases, handling the collection of rent and security deposits, mandating evictions and maintaining occupancy are typical duties. Sometimes, property managers are responsible for supervising other on-site managers, depending on the number of buildings for which they care. It may be your task to create the overall management plan for a particular building, taking into account factors like the physical upkeep of a place, contract agreements and finances.

Duties also frequently involve the completion of budgetary analysis, projections or reports, so excellent record management skills are a must. The supervision of grounds-keeping work or general maintenance is an essential part of a property manager's duties; moreover, this may require you to be on-call 24 hours a day to handle emergency repairs. In some cases, you might contract some of this work out to other professionals or delineate responsibilities to other managers.

Specialization Areas

You could focus on various types of residential properties, like student housing, senior homes or military housing, in addition to apartments or family rental homes. Commercial properties you can manage aren't limited to office spaces; you can also oversee medical centers, shopping malls, warehouses and research centers. If you understand the mechanical workings of buildings and are great with making quick repairs, you might be able to specialize in historic properties that require more frequent maintenance.

Salary and Job Growth

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2014, the middle half of all property, real estate, and community association managers took home between about $38,230 and $78,230 each year, with around $54,270 being the median annual wage. Some earned relatively low annual salaries, with the lowest tenth percentile making under $29,000. The top-paying states were New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Massachusetts. The BLS predicted that job growth in this field would be as fast as the average for all occupations, with a 12% expected increase between 2012 and 2022.

Education and Training Requirements


Employers often prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree in public administration, real estate, finance, accounting or business administration. Other education backgrounds may be accepted, and in some cases, a degree is not necessary. However, taking appropriate business, finance and management courses that train you to handle monetary issues like contracts, security deposits and collections can be beneficial. Working with people and creating effective solutions to problems are all part of a day's work, so critical thinking and communication coursework can also help you out. Many property managers receive continual training throughout their careers, due to operational updates and increases in technological complexity.

What Employers Are Looking For

An understanding of housing and banking regulations is vital, and you'll need to be familiar with local housing legislation in addition to national standards, like the Federal Fair Housing Amendment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Public Housing Manager Certification is commonly required for property managers of federally subsidized public buildings. Other certifications that can enhance your resume are available. The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) offers the Certified Property Manager professional credential. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMI) awards the Real Property Administrator credential, and the National Apartment Association (NAA) grants the Certified Apartment Manager designation.

Job Listings from Real Employers

Requested education and the specific functions of a property manager depend on the particular job. Below are some examples of what real employers were seeking in February 2012.

  • A Massachusetts company was seeking an apartment building property manager who can work with clients, plan budgets and provide maintenance work. At least 3 years of experience was required, and applicants with a degree were preferred.
  • A real estate business in North Carolina was looking for a general property manager who can hire and supervise other managers, handle finances and conduct daily inspections. The manager would work with apartments and maintain the company's offices. An associate's degree plus 5 years of experience were minimum requirements, in addition to knowledge of relevant computer software, such as Yardi.
  • An advertisement for a retail center property manager in San Francisco mandated at least a 4-year degree and five years of experience. This position required day-to-day maintenance duties and supervisory tasks. Moreover, this job requires the ability to coordinate with engineers, janitors and security professionals as well as the availability to attend community and city meetings.

How to Stand Out in the Field

If you're able to obtain a job related to the real estate field prior to applying for a property management position, this can boost your resume. Other job-related experiences that can help set you apart from the crowd include practice managing a health care center and working with older communities, since accommodating to seniors' needs takes a bit of extra know-how.

Membership in a professional organization, such as IREM, BOMI, NAA, Community Association Institution or International Council of Shopping Centers can also improve your chances of attaining a job; in fact, 86% of hiring managers reported this as beneficial in a national poll, according to IREM. Earning professional certification is another way to distinguish your capabilities and enhance your job prospects. Above all, if you can establish connections in the field, by maintaining good relationships with professors and classmates and through attending career-related events, you'll have an edge over the competition.

Acquire Beneficial Skills

Since direct work with people, including prospective clients, current tenants, property owners or community board members is a main part of the job, you are likely to benefit from taking communication-oriented courses, such as writing and oral presentation. Due to ever-increasing technological advances, computer skills may be necessary for dealing with official forms and record keeping. It could be advantageous if you are familiar with the following types of software commonly used in the industry:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • O'Brien Grasso RE Software Property Master
  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • RealEasyBooks ezREB

Related Careers to Consider

Real Estate Asset Manager

If you're interested in a management career related to real estate but you don't think you'd like the near-constant responsibility of attending to property and tenant needs, you might consider a career as a real estate asset manager. You would still rely on your organizational and financial abilities, but you would direct these talents to the tasks of buying, improving and selling properties for investors and businesses. Instead of worrying about monthly rent issues or individual problems with clients and the buildings, you might study issues like the population growth or public transportation systems of a region to determine the value of a particular property. You might also coordinate efforts to develop a particular building into a stunning home with greatly increased value. According to in 2012, the majority of real estate asset managers earned a yearly income between $42,000 and $120,000.

Real Estate Broker

Maybe you want to work with properties, but you'd rather help people find the perfect place to live instead of dealing with the pressures of overseeing a set of buildings. If this is the case, you might be interested in becoming a real estate broker. As a broker, you'll help clients buy and sell properties. You may even have the option of managing some properties if you choose to. Some of your time is spent in an office, but a good portion of it is spent showing clients the different properties that are available. Real estate brokers need a high school diploma, as well as a real estate license. In order to become licensed, you'll need to pass an exam and take some formal classes. Although your earnings tend to fluctuate with the state of the economy, you could have high earning potential in this line of work. In 2011, the BLS found that real estate brokers earned an average annual income of approximately $84,000.

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