Could You Benefit From Property Management Designation?

To earn a professional designation, or not? This is a question I have been struggling with in my own business for quite some time. Some are more costly than others, and will take years to earn. Some designation programs fit your business better than others. It can be difficult to weigh the potential return on your investment, but the upside is tremendous! In some markets, especially metro regions or markets where the competition is more dense, a Property Management designation makes a lot of sense. First and foremost, it is a key point of competitive differentiation. A designation shows your potential client that you have undergone rigorous courses of study and experience (on your own time) to become recognized as an expert in your field. This also helps you prove your track record of managing portfolios successfully and making your owners more money!

Most states require a Real Estate Broker's license, and some states require an additional Property Management license. But if you choose to pursue a professional designation as well, there are several to consider. The National Apartment Association (NAA) offers a wide variety of designations and certifications to fit any facet of your business. Let's take a look at a few:

  • Certified Apartment Manager (CAM). The CAM designation is widely regarded as one of the very best designations in the business, and lends instant credibility. After 56.5 hours of coursework and 12 months of experience, you will be proficient in fair housing, marketing, residential issues and more. This is absolutely THE designation to get as an onsite manager.

  • National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP). The NALP designation is perfect for those individuals who focus solely on leasing. The classes total about 25 hours, and will give you all the tools you need to create better sales presentations, telephone interviews, give you step-by-step rental procedures, and teach you how to do a market survey presentation. This is a must for any leasing agent!

  • Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS). The CAPS designation is geared more for a multi-site manager. You must have 24 months of experience and complete 40 hours of courses in the study of property performance, financial management, and property evaluation and doing your due dilligence.


As you can see, there is no shortage of opportunities to further your property management education. However, if you're in a smaller real estate market with less competition like me, this may not be the avenue you want to invest your time and resources into right away. While I advocate these great designations and what they stand for, smaller companies or individual managers should think about investing in their selling and relationship-building skills. I have found great success in networking with other real estate agents, and local investors. Birds of a feather flock together!

Putting hands in hands will always be one of the best ways to grow your business. It takes contacts to get contracts! While key relationships will likely become the core of your business, there is no substitute for being able to sell, market and promote your service. Like one of my mentors, Grant Cardone, always says, "If you can sell and close, you will never be without work, or without money!" We are salespeople, after all.

Earning a professional certification, or designation, will undoubtedly further your career. It opens the door for more branding possibilities, and will likely earn you more business in the long run as long as you can sell it. It may not be a fit for you right now, but I would certainly consider it down the road. By combining a quality education with great selling skills and massive amounts of action, you will put yourself in a position to ensure the long-term success of your company, and dominate your marketplace and who doesn’t want that?

Craig Garrow is the owner of Supreme Property Management & Leasing in Malone, NY.  He is a dedicated real estate professional, and entrepreneur who's determination far exceeds his talent. (And that's a lot!) Follow him on Twitter @TheCraigGarrow