The Best Property Management Courses of 2022

The best property management courses offer high-value training and certification programs to launch a successful career in property management.

By Melissa Tracey | Updated Aug 1, 2022 3:08 PM

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The Best Property Management Courses Options

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Property management courses offer a wealth of information for students looking to break into the industry. They can cover most, if not all aspects of the job, from industry lingo to laws and regulations to the ins and outs of managing tenants, rent collection, property maintenance, marketing, and more. The best property management courses, however, are a cut above; they provide additional tools and information that can allow a student to launch or accelerate a career in property management. The top choices can help position students to step into a property management role with confidence and a wealth of knowledge.

  1. BEST OVERALL: NAA Certified Apartment Manager
  2. RUNNER-UP: IREM Certified Property Manager
  3. BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Penn Foster Property Management Certificate
  4. BEST FOR VACATION RENTALS: VRMA Vacation Rental Management Certificate
  5. BEST FOR COMMERCIAL SPACES: BOMA Certified Manager of Commercial Properties
The Best Property Management Courses Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Property Management Courses

Property management programs are abundant in number and scope through their curriculum offerings, and a prospective student can start by considering which property management area to specialize in—residential, commercial, or even mixed-use buildings. In addition to the type of property, there are a number of factors to take into account before deciding on a property management course, including the class format, cost, experience requirements (some programs require up-front work experience prior to enrolling), and the course topics covered in the program. Some programs also offer a property management certification—a crucial factor if looking for that designation for employment purposes.

Class Format

A growing number of property management class options are now offered online. That may be a convenient way to squeeze in training if juggling a busy schedule or already working in the property management field. Many property management courses online are self-paced, which allows students to fit it in at a time of their choosing. Alternatively, some courses may offer live virtual instruction options, where there will be specified times to tune in.

Some of the best property management courses are instructed in person as well. In-person property management training options may help build a network of peers within the field, which could be important in a relationship-driven business like property management.

Price

Consider the financial investment; costs will depend on the program and the student’s level of investment. For example, some students may prefer just to brush up on a skill set or advance their current experience in an area by taking a single course or even a seminar. Or, they may be ready to make a larger financial and time commitment. Regardless of the length and difficulty of the course, costs vary, but they typically range from $450 to $8,500 (or more). If selecting a certification or designation property management program, be sure to factor in whether there are any certification renewals, which could mean added annual fees. Also, consider whether the program requires paying the entire fee up front or if a payment plan is available.

Experience Requirements

Property management courses may have education and experience requirements at different points in time, which can help a student select the best option for their needs and circumstances. Some courses may require students to hold a degree in property management or real estate. Some courses may even require that students have experience working in property management before starting the course. Alternatively, students may be required to complete a certain number of work hours by the time they graduate.

Of course, those who are new to property management and want to take the course imminently will want to make sure the programs they’re considering don’t require prior work experience in the field. Some programs may require a year—or even more—before enrolling. Some programs also may require students to hold a degree in property management or real estate to enroll.

Though a property management course is an excellent way to jumpstart a career (or further an existing one), a student may still need to meet some additional requirements: Most states have licensing requirements that must be met before a student can become a property manager.

Course Focus

Property management programs vary in scope and offer a variety of course offerings. Some programs are geared to those just starting out and offer a more foundational focus to the curriculum; others offer a chance for experienced property managers to take their skills further or even specialize. The course focus of most of the programs is usually divided between a residential or commercial property management emphasis.

Those interested in residential property management can gain skills in either managing residential rental properties or vacation properties. Other programs may be geared more toward industrial or commercial property management, which could cover topics related to managing retail complexes, shopping malls, warehouses, or office buildings. Carefully consider a property preference to find a program that offers courses related to your interests.

Course Length and Study Materials

The commitment needed to complete a property management program can vary. Some programs may take a few months; others may take a year or even longer to complete.

Also consider what study materials are offered through the program and whether those are included in the overall price or will require an extra payment. Study materials may be offered not only for classes but also for exams. Several programs require students to pass an exam to graduate, and they may offer study materials to help students prepare.

Certifications Earned and Renewal Requirements

Property management certification from a well-known, respected organization—such as one of the best property management courses—can offer something tangible to show others once training has been completed. Although usually not necessary to work as a property manager, certification or designations are often linked to obtaining a higher-paying position and advancing more quickly within a property management career.

Certification programs do tend to be more expensive than those that don’t provide any credentials and may require up-front experience before enrolling. Those who select a certification program are encouraged to factor in what’s required to keep a certification active. Property manager certification may require continuing education or even paying an annual fee. On the other hand, some programs may have no additional requirements or financial obligations after they’re completed.

Our Top Picks

The best property management courses are affiliated with or highly regarded by reputable organizations within the industry. They also cover a wide range of needs and levels, with training programs suitable for those with prior experience as well as courses for students who are new to property management. Finally, there are property management courses that offer the opportunity to specialize or develop a niche within the field.

Best Overall

The Best Property Management Course Option: NAA Certified Apartment Manager
Photo: naahq.org

Why It Made the Cut: The National Apartment Association’s CAM (Certified Apartment Manager) course delivers a valuable certification to aspiring apartment managers through comprehensive and flexible online or in-person course options.

The National Apartment Association (NAA) Certified Apartment Manager course covers a wide range of topics for those looking to specialize in apartment management, including coursework in marketing, property inspections, preventative maintenance programs, working with contractors, accounting, and maximizing net operating income. After completing training, students earn a CAM (Certified Apartment Manager) credential to show off to clients and potential employers.

The program offers plenty of flexibility depending on students’ preferences and how they learn best. Coursework can be completed online or in person. In-person options are scheduled by local and state affiliates, and the class lengths can range from 4-day intensives to 4-week courses. An online self-assessment tool can help potential students determine if the CAM certification course is right for them based on their prior experience and education. In the assessment, students can rank their comfort level with different topics and skills that are necessary in a property management career.

The program does require more than just completing coursework. To earn the CAM credential, candidates must complete all their CAM coursework (totaling 40 hours), have a minimum of 12 months of on-site property management experience by the time they graduate, and pass an exam. As with most other property management certifications, graduates of the program will be on the hook for continuing education to keep their certification active, but the annual 8-hour coursework and $100 fee are relatively attainable to maintain. While the CAM website has somewhat limited information, customers can reach out to NAA representatives to answer any lingering questions.

Specs

  • Class format: Online, in-person
  • Price: $900 for NAA members; $1,125 for nonmembers
  • Experience requirements: 12 months of work experience by graduation
  • Course focus: Residential property management
  • Course length: Varies by course
  • Certification earned: Certified Apartment Manager
  • Certification renewal requirements: 8 hours of continuing education and $100 fee every year

Pros

  • Online and in-person class options
  • 4-day, 2-week, and 4-week in-person courses
  • Relatively attainable continuing education requirements
  • Convenient pre-course online self-assessment tool

Cons

  • Website information is relatively limited

Runner-Up

The Best Property Management Course Option: IREM Certified Property Manager
Photo: irem.org

Why It Made the Cut: The IREM Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation offers education in commercial, residential, or mixed-use properties with an emphasis on creating and maintaining real-world skill sets.

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation offers a wide variety of coursework that focuses on real-world skills including budgeting, team building, and financing aspects of property management. IREM touts that its program graduates earn more than double the average property manager salary in the U.S. and that its students attain higher-level positions. However, the program costs more, ranging from $7,500 to $8,500, along with certification renewals that require an IREM and institute-affiliate National Association of Realtors (NAR) annual membership. Still, CPM management graduates get access to a powerful network to help launch and further their careers, including through IREM local chapter networking events.

Students must have a total of 3 years’ qualifying real estate management experience upon graduation. The program—with online and in-person class options—also requires taking CPM certification courses and passing a CPM Capstone, a two-part final assessment. IREM does offer a CPM property management fast-track option, in which students who have a real estate or property management degree or meet certain work experience requirements can waive seven of the eight CPM-required certification courses.

Specs

  • Class format: Online, in-person
  • Price: $7,500 to $8,500
  • Experience requirements: 36 months of work experience by graduation
  • Course focus: Residential property management
  • Course length: 12 to 18 months
  • Certification earned: Certified Property Manager
  • Certification renewal requirements: Annual IREM and NAR membership

Pros

  • Online and in-person class options
  • Course materials and requirements emphasize real-world skill
  • CPM fast-track option lets students waive 7 out of 8 course modules

Cons

  • Relatively high cost

Best for Beginners

The Best Property Management Course Option: Penn Foster Property Management Certificate
Photo: pennfoster.edu

Why It Made the Cut: The Penn Foster Property Management Certificate provides a head start for those new to the property management field by providing an overview into the skill sets, laws, and expertise required to succeed.

The Penn Foster Property Management Certificate is an excellent choice for those embarking on a career in property management since it does not require prior work experience to enroll and is relatively affordable for many students. The program covers foundational aspects of property management within tenant relations, financial accounting, property valuations, real estate law, risk management, and fair housing. Students can opt to pay the total cost up front or enroll in a monthly payment plan. The course doesn’t award a certification upon completion, but the upside is that there are no annual renewal requirements for fees or continuing education.

The program does offer lots of flexibility, with property management classes online that can be completed at a student’s own pace from home. There are no exam due dates, and the program can be started at any time. Those who enroll always have access to online resources, digital study quizzes, simulations and videos, and an online student community for connecting with others.

Specs

  • Class format: Online
  • Price: $579
  • Experience requirements: No requirements
  • Course focus: Residential property management
  • Course length: 4 to 8 months
  • Certification earned: Course completion certificate
  • Certification renewal requirements: No requirements

Pros

  • No experience or certification renewal requirements
  • Monthly payment plan available
  • Relatively affordable cost

Cons

  • No certification awarded upon course completion

Best for Vacation Rentals

The Best Property Management Course Option: VRMA Vacation Rental Management Certificate
Photo: vrma.org

Why It Made the Cut: The VRMA Vacation Rental Management Certificate focuses exclusively on vacation rental management with coursework designed and developed by industry leaders and experienced vacation rental managers.

Vacation properties are niche within the larger property management industry. The Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) Vacation Rental Management Certificate provides a pathway for those who want to pursue this specialty area, whether professionally or personally by listing a home on one of the best vacation rental sites. Those enrolled in the program will learn how to expertly operate and manage vacation rental properties and will earn a VRMA certificate upon completion to display when marketing their services. The course was developed by industry professionals and experienced vacation rental managers, so students can feel confident that the material will be pertinent and useful.

The program is completely online with self-paced and live options. The live online option allows students to attend live classes where a teacher lectures and students have opportunities for questions and discussion. There’s little information available on how long the course takes, and student support is not readily accessible, so interested students may want to contact a VRMA representative or research online reviews before committing.

To complete the program, prospective vacation rental managers will be required to complete five online module programs and pass an online assessment for each. Each module dives into a specific, critical role and responsibility of a vacation rental manager, including business operations, marketing and promotion, business planning and organization management, and guest and owner relations.

Specs

  • Class format: Online
  • Price: $450 for VRMA members, $750 for nonmembers
  • Experience requirements: No requirements
  • Course focus: Vacation rental management
  • Course length: Not specified
  • Certification earned: Vacation rental management certificate
  • Certification renewal requirements: 15 hours of continuing education and $100 fee every 3 years

Pros

  • Exclusive focus on managing vacation rental properties
  • Program developed by industry experts and experienced vacation rental managers
  • Self-paced and live online class options

Cons

  • Course length information not readily available
  • Student support not readily available

Best for Commercial Spaces

The Best Property Management Course Option: BOMA Certified Manager of Commercial Properties
Photo: boma.org

Why It Made the Cut: BOMA’s Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP) course delivers quality education via self-paced and live online courses to those looking to accelerate their careers within commercial property management.

The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) developed the Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP) designation for those interested in pursuing careers in the property management of commercial properties. The program exclusively focuses on commercial management and homes in on seven sections of property management knowledge identified as keys for success: accounting and financial management; lease management; risk management; building systems; managing relationships with tenants and vendors; professional networking; and competencies within organization, service, and communication.

The program is exclusively online. Students have the ability to complete coursework at their own pace, or they can attend live virtual instruction times. The live instruction also includes collaborative activities where students can directly interact with peers and the instructor. The certification’s continuing education requirements are relatively intense, calling for 45 hours of continuing education and a $325 fee every 3 years. Still, the program could be an affordable option for those with existing experience and property management knowledge since the BOMA’s exam prep course and certification exam are priced separately. Students are not required to take BOMA’s prep course in order to take the BOMA exam, but they must meet education and work requirements if they do not take the course. Those who earn a CMCP early on in their career can leverage their new credential to employers to show they’ve gained fundamentals in learning commercial real estate operations and management principles.

Specs

  • Class format: Online
  • Price: $495 for exam prep course, $675 for exam registration
  • Experience requirements: No requirements
  • Course focus: Commercial property management
  • Course length: 30 hours of instruction
  • Certification earned: Certified Manager of Commercial Properties
  • Certification renewal requirements: 45 hours of continuing education and $325 fee every 3 years

Pros

  • Exclusive focus on managing commercial properties
  • Self-paced and live online class options

Cons

  • Relatively intense continuing education requirements

Our Verdict

NAA’s Certified Apartment Manager course is our top pick for best property management course as it’s backed by the National Apartment Association and offers flexible class options and an easy-to-maintain certification. While a more costly option, IREM’s Certified Property Manager course is a close contender. This program allows enrollees to focus on commercial, residential, or mixed-use properties to add variety to their skill set and is backed by the National Association of Realtors, which could offer access to an extensive network in advancing a property management career.

How We Chose the Best Property Management Courses

To determine the best property management courses, we researched dozens of programs to find options that could fit a variety of price points and experience levels. We factored in the professional reputations of each program, course offerings in helping to accelerate a property management career, and the costs of what enrollees get for their investment. We also looked for programs that were affiliated by industry organizations or those that offered programming and certifications acknowledged and respected within the field.

Before You Take One of the Best Property Management Courses

A property management program is not required to work in the field, but it can certainly help advance or launch a career. Before enrolling, students should ensure that the course they’re interested in will advance their specific goals. Students looking to work in residential property management will want to choose a class that will support that career path.

Students will want to make sure they’re aware of any requirements they need to attain before starting a course or program. Many courses require a certain number of work hours in the field, ranging from 12 months to 3 years. Additionally, certifications may require continuing education or annual fees. These requirements can also include any state mandates about qualifications needed to work as a property manager. Some states require property managers to maintain real estate broker or property management licenses. Students need to be clear about these requirements before starting the course so they don’t experience any surprises or regret.

Students will also want to be clear on the time commitment the coursework demands. Students can reach out to course faculty or former students to get an honest idea of what level of involvement will be required on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Cost of Taking One of the Best Property Management Courses

The costs of a property management program can vary widely, from $45 for a single class to $8,500 for certain certification courses. Pursuing a property management degree can cost up to $3,500 per year for an associate’s degree or $115,000 or more for a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Also, certain programs offer property management certifications or designations that require an extra yearly fee, or programs may require graduates meet additional annual continuing education requirements, which will typically cost money as well.

The time devoted to a program is an intangible cost to consider too before enrolling. The time involved can differ quite a bit depending on the program selected—some programs take months and others may take years to complete. Online and self-paced options may offer convenience, but in-person programs can offer more opportunities to develop a network of peers in the field.

The Advantages of Taking One of the Best Property Management Courses

A property management program may be just the next step needed to build expertise and recognition in the field. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased confidence by expanding knowledge within topic areas of property management, from accounting to risk management and technology. Students can even focus on specialties within commercial or residential property management.
  • Recognition early on in a career by being able to showcase additional expertise and leverage the added training to increase the chances of promotion or taking on extra job responsibilities.
  • Access to an ongoing network of other property managers to help market services and broaden business opportunities within the field.

FAQs

These are some frequently asked questions about property management that may help when considering the abundance of career or training options.

Q. Do property managers need qualifications?

Licensing requirements to become a property manager vary widely by state. Some states require property managers to pass a real estate licensing exam. While a property management program or professional certification or designation is not required, these programs could help candidates get a job and earn more money in the field. One of the best online real estate schools could also help prospective property managers prepare for work in this field.

Q. What degree is best for property management?

There are many paths to a career in property management. Some universities and colleges offer degrees in property management, or some property managers come to the field after pursuing a degree in related fields like real estate, business administration, or finance. A college degree isn’t required to become a property manager; some property managers prefer to jump right in and take a job to get work experience first. A certified property management program can be completed at any point and may be a consideration for those who are looking to advance their career.

Q. What’s it like working as a property manager?

Property managers are good multitaskers and capable of juggling everything from managing leases and tenants to the maintenance and finances of a property. A property manager’s job can vary depending on what type of property they’re managing and how many properties they’re overseeing. A property manager serves as the go-to or middle person between the property owner and the tenants, and their most critical task is to ensure the property is operating efficiently and profitably.