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Do I Need A College Degree In Property Management?


Traditionally, property management is not a job that requires a college degree. So that answers the question posed in this article’s title, right?

Not quite.

While you may not need college to be a property manager, education can help move your career forward. Let’s explore how property managers can use professional degrees and certifications to get better jobs and earn more money.

property manager with a college degree, what a great idea!

Not sure where to start? Try IREM

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) is the nation’s first professional organization for property management. They’ve had one mission since 1933:

… [to] educate real estate managers, certify their competence and professionalism and define ethical practices.

IREM offers several credentials (e.g., CPM®, ARM®, ACoM and AMO®) to help property managers. These licenses do two key things:

  • Help you get your foot in the door (or take the next step in your career)
  • Improve your practice to help you become more efficient and make more money

IREM holds national conferences and provides important resources for each level of membership.

NARPM also offers property management education

The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) is another large property management organization. It focuses on the needs of single family home companies. They offer education courses on many topics, and their classes are two, three or six hours long.

You won’t get continuing education credit for their courses, but you will stay on top of the latest trends and best practices.

Certification confusion: different states, different strokes

Only five states let you manage properties without a license or certification:

  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont

All other states require a real estate broker license or property management license.

Of course, getting licensed is just the start. Before future owners, investors and property management companies give you the keys to the properties, they’ll want to know your experience.

That means someone with a high school diploma and years of experience could be chosen over a licensed broker with no experience.

Certification is just a jumping off point for your career. Even if it’s not required in your state, a broker’s license or association certificate (from IREM, NARPM, BOMA, etc.) will make you more competitive in your field.

College degrees in property management

There are a few colleges that offer property management courses online. These college certifications take about four months to complete, but many let you work on your own schedule.

There are other college certifiers—these are just a few names to help get you started.

What about college degrees not in property management?

Even if your college experience is not in property management, a two-year, four-year or higher-level degree helps. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many hiring companies and investors look for applicants with college degrees. They often look for degrees in business administration, finance, public administration and/or other related fields.

What matters more, experience or a degree?

There’s no one way to become certified as a property manager. If you can get a college degree or already have one, you’ll stand out in your field.

But that’s not going to guarantee a job. You never really know what a potential investor or employer is looking for until you start applying.

Looking for more ways to get certified? Check out these property management associations you should join.