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Top 11 Property Manager Certifications

This article will discuss the top certifications available for property managers to help them become more knowledgeable and successful in their chosen field.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are important for property managers in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and knowledge that employers look for when hiring. Property management is a complex profession and requires specialized skills to be successful in the role. Having certifications can help set a property manager apart from other candidates and show potential employers that they have the necessary qualifications to do the job properly. Additionally, some certifications may be required by employers or even state laws in order to legally practice in certain states. Therefore, having certifications can help property managers gain an advantage over other applicants and increase their chances of getting hired.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Property Managers and explain how they can enhance a property manager's career.

What are Property Manager Certifications?

Property manager certification is a credential that provides recognition for property managers who have proven their knowledge and experience in the field. This certification can be obtained through an accredited organization, such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

The certification program is designed to identify qualified property managers and provide them with an additional edge in the competitive real estate industry. Certification demonstrates a commitment to ethical business practices, professionalism, and expertise in managing residential or commercial properties. It also gives property owners peace of mind when selecting a manager for their valuable assets.

A certified property manager has access to resources, educational opportunities, and professional networking events that can help them stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Additionally, they may be able to receive discounts on products or services related to their job responsibilities. Having this certification will also make it easier for a property manager to stand out among other applicants when seeking job opportunities.

Overall, obtaining a property management certification can provide significant benefits to those working in the field by giving them more credibility and making them more attractive in the eyes of potential employers. It can also serve as an affirmation of the hard work and dedication put into becoming an expert in this area of real estate management.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research different property manager certification courses and programs to find the one that best fits your needs. Look for courses that offer comprehensive training on topics such as tenant relations, landlord-tenant law, and maintenance management. Additionally, make sure the program is accredited by a recognized organization in the industry to ensure you receive quality instruction.

Related: What does a Property Manager do?

Top 11 Property Manager Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Property Managers today.

1. Certified Property Manager (CPM)

Certified Property Manager (CPM) is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). It is one of the most respected and sought-after certifications in the real estate industry. The CPM designation signifies that an individual has achieved a high level of expertise in property management and has demonstrated knowledge, experience, and ethical standards in the field.

To qualify for the CPM designation, an individual must have at least five years of full-time experience as a property manager or equivalent position. Additionally, they must pass an exam administered by IREM which tests their knowledge and understanding of property management principles and practices.

The process to obtain the CPM designation takes about three to six months. During this time, applicants are expected to complete an application form, submit required documents such as proof of experience, pay applicable fees, and successfully pass the exam.

The cost to apply for the CPM certification varies depending on whether you are already a member of IREM or not. For non-members, there is an initial application fee plus additional fees for each course taken during the program. For members, there is only an initial application fee plus additional fees for each course taken during the program if needed.

2. Real Estate Broker License

A real estate broker license is a professional license that allows an individual to legally conduct real estate transactions in the state in which they are licensed. This includes buying, selling, and leasing properties. To get a real estate broker license, an individual must meet certain educational requirements and pass a licensing exam.

In most states, it takes approximately six months to obtain a real estate broker license. The process begins with completing pre-licensing education courses. Most states require at least 90 hours of coursework in topics such as real estate law, contracts, finance, and ethics. After completing the required coursework and passing the state’s licensing exam, an individual can apply for their real estate broker license.

The cost of obtaining a real estate broker license varies by state but typically ranges from $100-$500 depending on the fees associated with the pre-licensing education courses and the licensing exam. Additionally, some states may require additional fees for background checks or other administrative costs associated with obtaining a license.

Once licensed, individuals must complete continuing education courses each year to maintain their license in good standing. This ensures that brokers stay up to date on relevant laws and regulations related to real estate transactions.

3. Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) is a professional certification program designed to provide apartment managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage an apartment community. The CAM program is administered by the National Apartment Association (NAA) and is recognized as the premier credential for apartment management professionals.

The CAM program consists of three courses: Foundations of Apartment Management, Operations & Maintenance, and Human Resources & Risk Management. The courses are offered in both online and classroom formats, with the online option taking approximately 8-10 weeks to complete.

In order to become certified, applicants must successfully complete all three courses, pass a comprehensive exam, and meet other requirements such as having at least two years of verifiable experience managing an apartment community or related field.

The cost of the CAM program varies depending on whether you choose to take the classes online or in a classroom setting. Online classes typically range from $400-$500 while classroom sessions can cost up to $1,000. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with purchasing course materials and taking the comprehensive exam.

4. Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)

Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) is a professional designation offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). It is designed to recognize and reward excellence in residential property management. The ARM designation is held by individuals who demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the principles and practices of residential property management.

The ARM program requires applicants to complete a minimum of eight courses, pass an exam, and have at least two years of experience in the field. The courses cover topics such as financial management, legal issues, marketing strategies, tenant relations, maintenance operations, and more.

To get the ARM designation, you must first apply for membership with IREM and then submit your application for the ARM program. You will need to provide proof of your educational background and work experience. Once accepted into the program, you will be required to take all eight courses within two years or less. After completing all eight courses and passing the exam with a score of 70% or higher, you will receive your ARM designation.

The cost for obtaining an ARM designation varies depending on your individual circumstances. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 to become accredited. This includes course fees as well as any applicable membership dues or exam fees.

5. Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS)

Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS) is a professional certification program designed to help housing professionals understand and comply with the laws, regulations, and policies related to occupancy in the affordable housing industry. The COS certification program is offered by the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA), a national trade association for the multifamily housing industry.

The COS certification requires individuals to complete a comprehensive course of study that covers topics such as Fair Housing, Tenant Selection and Leasing, Income and Rent Calculations, HUD Program Requirements, Professionalism and Ethics, and more. The course consists of both online modules and an in-person exam. It typically takes between three to six months to complete the coursework and pass the exam.

To get certified as a COS, you must apply for admission through NAHMA's website. Once your application has been accepted, you will be required to pay an enrollment fee of $400 plus any applicable taxes. After you have successfully completed all of the course requirements and passed the exam, you will receive your official certificate from NAHMA confirming your Certified Occupancy Specialist status.

6. Certified Professional Property Manager (CPPM)

Certified Professional Property Manager (CPPM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize property management professionals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and experience in the field. The CPPM certification is administered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), which is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors.

The CPPM program requires applicants to have at least five years of experience in the field, as well as complete a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as property management law, finance, marketing, leasing, maintenance and operations. Applicants must also pass a background check and provide proof of their educational qualifications.

The cost for the certification program varies depending on whether you take it online or in person. Online courses typically range from $500 to $1,000 while in-person classes can cost up to $2,500.

The entire process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. Once you have passed the exam and met all other requirements, you will receive your Certified Professional Property Manager designation and be eligible for membership with IREM.

7. National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) Designation

The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) designation is a professional credential that is earned by property managers who have demonstrated their expertise in the residential real estate management field. This certification is designed to recognize the highest level of professionalism and knowledge in the industry, and it is highly respected by employers, clients, and peers.

To earn the NARPM designation, a property manager must complete an extensive program of study and demonstrate their knowledge through a series of exams. The program consists of five courses: Introduction to Residential Property Management; Financial Management; Legal Issues; Marketing & Leasing; and Maintenance & Risk Management. Each course requires approximately 30 hours of study time and culminates with a final exam. Depending on how quickly an individual can complete each course, it typically takes between six months to one year to earn the NARPM designation.

In order to become eligible for the NARPM designation, applicants must meet certain criteria such as having at least two years' experience in property management or related fields, being actively involved in their local NARPM chapter, and holding certain designations or certifications from other organizations such as CAM (Certified Apartment Manager) or ARM (Accredited Residential Manager).

The cost for enrolling in the NARPM program varies depending on whether you are a member of NARPM or not. For non-members, the cost is $1125 USD per course plus an additional $50 USD application fee. For members, the cost is discounted to $875 USD per course plus the application fee. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking each exam which range from $75-$150 USD depending on which exam you are taking.

Overall, earning your NARPM designation can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to excellence in residential property management and set yourself apart from other professionals in this field.

8. Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Certification

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) is a professional organization that provides real estate management certification to individuals who wish to pursue a career in the field. IREM certification is designed to recognize those who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field, and demonstrate their commitment to professional excellence.

IREM offers three levels of certification: Certified Property Manager (CPM), Accredited Residential Manager (ARM), and Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM). Each level requires different qualifications, experience, and education. To become certified at any level, an individual must pass an examination administered by IREM. The CPM exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral presentation. The ARM and ACoM exams are only written tests.

The amount of time it takes to get IREM certification varies depending on the individual's experience and educational background. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months to two years for someone to complete all the requirements for each level of certification.

To get IREM certification, an individual must first join IREM as a member. This can be done online or through mail-in forms available on the organization's website. Once membership is established, applicants must then register for the appropriate exam(s) and pay any applicable fees associated with them. After passing the exam(s), applicants will receive their official certificate from IREM along with their designation as either a CPM, ARM or ACoM professional.

The cost of getting IREM certification depends on several factors such as which level you are seeking certification at, how long it takes you to complete all requirements, and any additional fees associated with taking the exam(s). Generally speaking, costs can range from $500-$2,000 USD depending on these factors.

9. Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP)

Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The LIHTC program is a federal tax incentive program that encourages private developers to build and maintain affordable housing for low-income households.

The HCCP designation requires individuals to demonstrate their knowledge of the LIHTC program, including its regulations, compliance requirements, and best practices. To obtain the HCCP designation, individuals must pass an exam administered by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions covering topics such as LIHTC regulations, financial analysis, asset management, compliance monitoring, and more. It typically takes about four hours to complete the exam.

The cost to take the HCCP exam varies depending on whether you are an NAHB member or not. For non-members, the cost is $595; for members it is $395.

10. Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) Designation

The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) Designation is a professional certification program that recognizes the highest standards of excellence in property management. The designation is awarded to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to their profession, have the knowledge and experience necessary to manage commercial properties, and are dedicated to providing superior service to tenants.

The BOMA Designation program consists of three levels: Certified Property Manager (CPM), Real Property Administrator (RPA), and Facilities Management Administrator (FMA). To obtain any of these designations, applicants must complete a series of courses, pass an exam, and meet certain requirements. Depending on the level of designation sought, this process can take up to two years or more.

To begin the process of obtaining a BOMA Designation, applicants must first become members of BOMA International by paying an annual membership fee. After becoming members, they may then register for the appropriate courses needed for their desired designation level. These courses typically cost between $500-$2,000 each depending on the type and length of course taken. Upon completion of all required courses and exams, applicants will receive their official BOMA Designation certificate from BOMA International.

Overall, obtaining a BOMA Designation requires dedication and commitment as it can take up to two years or more to complete all requirements for any given level. However, having this certification demonstrates expertise in property management which can be beneficial for those looking to advance their career in this field.

11. National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Certification

The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Certification is a voluntary certification program that recognizes excellence among affordable housing professionals. It is designed to promote the highest standards of performance and ethics in the affordable housing industry. The certification is awarded to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to professional development, ethical conduct, and quality management of affordable housing properties.

To become certified, applicants must complete an application and submit it along with supporting documentation such as proof of education, experience, and training. Applicants must also pass an examination that covers topics related to the management of affordable housing properties. The exam includes questions related to financial management, tenant relations, legal compliance, fair housing practices, and other relevant topics.

The process typically takes about three months from start to finish. The cost for the NAHMA Certification varies depending on the type of applicant (individual or organization). For individuals, the fee is $250; for organizations it is $500.

In addition to the initial application fee, there may be additional costs associated with taking the exam or attending preparatory courses or seminars.

Do You Really Need a Property Manager Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual's circumstances. For some people, a property manager certificate may be necessary in order to become employed in the field of property management. This is particularly true if an individual is looking to become a licensed property manager or work within a state that requires professional certification.

However, even if certification is not required by law in a particular state, there are still many benefits to obtaining a property manager certificate. A certificate can serve as proof of knowledge and experience in the industry, which will make employers more likely to hire you. Additionally, a certificate may be beneficial for those who wish to stand out from the competition when seeking employment.

Getting certified can also help those who are already working in the field stay up-to-date on best practices and regulations pertaining to property management. Certification classes often cover topics such as landlord-tenant law, maintenance and repair issues, financial management skills, and other important topics related to the profession.

In short, whether or not you need a property manager certificate depends largely on your individual situation and career goals. If you are looking for employment as a property manager or want to stay current with industry trends and regulations, then getting certified may be worth considering.

Related: Property Manager Resume Examples

FAQs About Property Manager Certifications

1. What is a property manager certification?

Answer: A property manager certification is a professional designation that demonstrates an individual's knowledge and experience in the field of property management. It is usually obtained through completing an accredited course or program, or by passing an exam administered by a recognized professional organization.

2. Is a property manager certification required to work in the field?

Answer: No, a property manager certification is not required to work in the field. However, having one may give you an edge when competing for jobs and may also provide additional credibility with potential clients.

3. How do I become certified?

Answer: In order to become certified as a property manager, you must complete an accredited course or program and pass an exam administered by a recognized professional organization such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).

4. How long does it take to obtain a certification?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to obtain a certification varies depending on the type of program you choose and how quickly you are able to complete the requirements. Generally speaking, most programs can be completed within six months to one year.

5. What are the benefits of obtaining a certification?

Answer: Having a property manager certification can help demonstrate your knowledge and experience in the field, which may give you an edge when competing for jobs and help build trust with potential clients. Additionally, many employers prefer candidates who have obtained certifications as they provide evidence of commitment and dedication to the profession.

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