Real estate and property managers specialize in administrating commercial, industrial and residential property and buildings, like apartment complexes, malls, and schools.  They are responsible for the upkeep of the properties that they manage, and sometimes their finances. They are often responsible for the collection of rent or service charges from the tenets or residents who live in the buildings for which they are responsible, and ensure that property taxes and service contracts are paid on time.

Real estate and property managers have a broad range of responsibilities in the management residential or commercial properties: from overseeing large development projects, like corporate offices apartment complexes, to the mundane daily business of finding renters to fill their buildings and negotiating contracts for grounds keeping and trash removal services.

Real estate and property managers working for large corporations, such as real-estate developers or large industrial and commercial firms may also be in charge of acquiring land and overseeing construction plans for new property developments, residential apartment complexes to large shopping malls.

Real estate and property managers must have fine-tuned knowledge of building code regulations as well as local and state housing laws, to ensure the property they manage meets all building codes and that the property is advertised and leased fairly and legally.

Real Estate and Property Management Career Opportunities

Leads to Real Estate and Property Managers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 304,100 property, real estate, and community association managers in 2008. The occupation is expected to grow by 8% from 2008 to 2018, about as fast as the average growth for all jobs. That will mean over 25,600 new jobs for qualified candidates over 10 years for a 2018 total of 329,700 property, real estate, and community association managers.

According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a project of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, there will be about 78,000 job openings for qualified real estate and property managers from 2008 to 2018. O*NET's projection includes the 25,600 new jobs the BLS predicts AND existing positions vacated by retirement, career changes, early termination, etc.

As one of the most self-employed industries (46% of property, real estate, and community association managers are self employed), job opportunities may also increase for those with advanced experience who feel capable of opening and operating their own property or real estate management firm.

The BLS notes that those who have completed real estate and property management degrees, business degrees, or administrative degrees will have the best job opportunities and earnings potential.

Real Estate and Property Management Earnings

Earnings for real estate and property managers vary by experience, educational achievement and employer industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wages for property, real estate and community association managers were $46,130 in 2008. The middle 50% of the field made between $31,730 and $68,770, while the bottom 10% earned less than $21,860 and the top 10% earned more than $102,250.

Real estate and property managers earned median wages of $46,130 in 2008.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industry affects an employee's earning potential. For example, those property or real estate managers working in management of (larger) companies and enterprises will have the highest annual median wages of $74,010 while those working in the offices of real estate agents and brokers will earn median annual wages of $44,160. Management of larger properties or managing a number of properties at once will likely increase compensation.

Real Estate and Property Management Educational Benefits

Generally, employers prefer to hire real estate or property managers with postsecondary degrees, favoring those with degrees in business, finance, administration, real estate and related areas.

Offsite managerial positions or those managerial positions dealing specifically with the contracts and finances of a property often require a master's degree. Most managers in entry-level positions participate in on-the-job training and will work under seasoned property or real estate managers. To advance, most property or real estate managers must have extensive experience and continuing education or credentialing.

Another contributor to a successful property or real estate management career is often experience or education in real estate sales. Managers that can also actively fill residential or commercial units are in high demand.

Graduates of real estate or property management programs usually begin their careers under an experienced property manager, advancing over time into supervisorial roles. Often, those with degrees are able to advance more quickly, but strong work experience is also a determining factor. Entry-level jobs will usually require overseeing one specific property. With advancement, experienced real estate or property managers will oversee a number of different properties, apartments or apartment complexes, office buildings, retail spaces, or large retail properties.

Most students interested in real estate or property management take a variety of different courses including finance, accounting, statistics, public administration, general business administration, communications, property development, sales and marketing.

Education is an important factor for advancement and earning potential. However, as O*NET reports, it's not always the determining factor for securing desirable positions or advancing in the real estate and property management field. According to the Occupational Information Network, 27% of real estate and property managers have a high-school diploma or less, 36% have some college education (a post-secondary diploma or associate's degree) while 36% have a bachelor's degree or higher.

72% of real estate and property managers have some college education.Source: Occupational Information Network

Certificate and associates' degree programs range in length from a few months to 1 or 2 years. A bachelor's degree in the real estate and property management field will typically take 4 years to complete. Earning a master's degree will take the student an additional 1 to 2 years. Many employers require employees to undergo on-the-job training or participate in short formal training programs provided by specific trade or professional associations.

Real Estate and Property Management Programs Online

Degrees Possible Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral Degrees

There are a growing number of real estate and property management degree programs offered online. These programs can prove especially beneficial to full-time employees working as assistant managers or under an experienced real estate or property manager, or for experienced managers in other industries considering a switch to real estate and property management.

The best online real estate and property management degrees offer an education as rigorous as those offered by local ground schools in a more flexible format better suited to the working student.

As with any serious educational decision, do your research when picking an online real estate and property management program: is the school accredited? Will credits transfer? What is the school's job placement rate? What are people saying about this school in general and this program specifically? You'll be able to find the answers to many of those questions on this network of Web sites, but don't be afraid to ask your admissions counselor the tough questions.

Real Estate and Property Management Skills and Abilities

Like managers in all industries, real estate and property managers must have excellent time management, group management, and financial management skills. Real estate and property managers should be excellent leaders and have active listening and communication skills as well as effective problem-solving skills.

The ability to multitask is also an important asset. Property and real estate managers must also be highly organized in order to effectively orchestrate the multitude of tasks and responsibilities that are required.

The responsibilities and necessary skills of real estate and property managers vary by position. Onsite property managers and community organizers generally need a great deal of flexibility and most must be willing to live in close proximity to the property they are overseeing. Some onsite property managers and community organizers live in the apartment complexes or communities in which they work. Property or real estate managers of larger commercial properties usually need a good deal of practical experience in the field in order to be qualified for managerial positions.

Though most grounds keeping and building maintenance tasks are delegated to employees or contractors, it is often useful for real estate and property managers to have rudimentary mechanical, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills.

Real Estate and Property Management Qualification and Advancement

Though a formal postsecondary education is not always required for entry-level positions as Real Estate and Property Managers, most employers, especially owners of larger or more up-scale facilities, prefer bachelor's or master's degrees in property management or a related field.

A combination of work experience and educational credentials is generally the best path to advancement in the field.

Additional Information

The Institute of Real Estate Management maintains a Web site at http://www.irem.org.

The Building Owners and Managers Institute maintains a Web site at http://www.bomi.org.