In many traditions, fall is a time for contemplation and assessment. The property management industry is no exception. This time of year, many employers start to re-evaluate their talent pool. Some will be facing tough decisions about team changes in order to start the new year in a strong position to achieve financial benchmarks and budgets.
For ambitious employees, this can actually be good news. In many areas of the country, the real estate industry is growing at a steady pace. One of the challenges faced by property management companies is finding and retaining good talent—which translates to plenty of job opportunities in almost every market throughout the country for those willing to go the extra mile.
What does a property management career look like?
If you are just starting out or considering a career in property management, it helps to be acquainted with the scope of jobs available and which opportunities are realistically available for promotion. That way, you can choose the career path that best fits your interests and abilities. The main categories of jobs available in the property management industry include:
On-site positions: If you love hands-on management of property, these positions are for you. This category includes jobs such as property manager, assistant manager, maintenance technician and maintenance supervisor. For those who love working with people, consider becoming a leasing professional or leasing manager.
Corporate/support positions: These positions involve management of the company itself. Many of the on-site positions will report to these people. Careers in this category include director of IT, regional manager, regional vice president and CEO.
Finance positions: If you love numbers and accounting, there’s plenty for you to do in property management. Positions in this category include accounting payables specialist, accounting manager, asset manager, senior asset manager and CFO.
Human resources positions: These include HR generalist, benefits specialist and director of HR.
Promotions in the property management industry can happen within each category or between categories. For example, a property manager could easily make the switch to regional manager. In fact, having on-site experience is invaluable regardless of which position you aspire to reach because it gives you practical, nuts-and-bolts experience in the industry.
What qualifications do you need for a career in property management?
Robert Montgomery, CEO and founder of RecruiterMixer, an executive recruiting company serving the property management and hospitality industries, says many employers today prefer candidates with both their undergraduate and graduate degrees. The type of degree required can vary based on the position and employer preferences.
Montgomery also recommends earning one or more certificates specific to property management. “Continuing to further your education within the property management field is always a benefit for a candidate and can provide an advantage (in a competitive hiring situation),” he says.
Nationally recognized designations in property management include such titles as Certified Apartment Manager (CAM), Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT), Accredited Residential Manager (ARM), Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS), Certified Apartment Supplier (CAS) and Certified Property Manager (CPM).
Strategies for advancing your property management career
If you are already employed in the property management industry, it pays to be proactive about advancing your career. Here are a few steps Montgomery suggests taking to improve your chances for promotion:
• Make your boss your ally. Develop a career development plan with your supervisor and establish tasks, projects and benchmarks toward achieving the next position.
• Take ownership of your career growth. Stay relevant and proactively work daily on developing yourself for the next position.
• Leverage your relationships wisely. Find team members who will actively promote your achievements to the key decision-makers. (You should be just as willing to do the same for them.)
• Follow the Golden Rule. Regardless of your position or industry, it’s always an excellent practice to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Whether you’re dealing with tenants, peers or your boss, cultivating an attitude of respect will help you earn the same.
• Broaden your horizons. If you don’t see your way clear to getting to the next position in your career path at your current company, consider switching to a different one. Don’t make this decision lightly; for some, familiarity and staying within their comfort zone trumps compensation. For others, though, the tough decision to leave can prove very rewarding.
Whether you choose to stay with your current company or seek new pastures, each position and/or company you work for could broaden your skill set to help you achieve your long-term career goals in the property management industry.
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