If you are a property manager who is interested in enhancing your credentials as well as your career prospects, IREM’s Certified Property Manager program is a great place to start. Certified Property Managers are seen as experts in their field and studies have shown that they earn at least 13% more than property managers who are not certified. And in today’s competitive job environment, the CPM designation can tip the balance in your favor when seeking a job.
There are a number of steps to becoming a Certified Property Manager, and the process will take at least 1-year. The first step is to become a CPM candidate, which costs $160 and includes an initial IREM membership. Once you are an official candidate, then you can begin the property management courses. There are 7 courses that you will need to pass as well as an ethics course. Courses can either be completed with local IREM classes or through their home study program. A third option is for instructor-led online courses, which is great for busy professionals. If you happen to hold a college degree with a concentration in real estate or property management, then you can skip the courses completely by submitting your transcript. This will save you a tremendous amount of time and money. You can also skip the courses if you hold a CCIM, CSM, PCAM, or RPA designation. Even if you are able to opt out of the courses, you will still be required to take the ethics class.
The next step is passing the management plan. This is the biggest hurdle to becoming a Certified Property Manager, and there are two options. First, you can create a management plan for an actual property that you work at or are familiar with. While this might sound fairly simple, it is actually a huge undertaking, and the final report is expected to be 75-100 pages long. The second option is to attend an IREM course where you must pass a management plan skills assessment. This course is 4-days long and includes a final examination in a classroom setting, in which you must answer scenario-based questions. You get to choose whether the questions involve a retail building, an office building, or an apartment complex, which allows you to focus on the area in which you are most experienced.
The advantage of doing the management plan on an actual property is that you can work at your own pace and don’t have to take time off from work to attend classes. In addition, doing this work on a property that you manage can potentially have some career benefits, by showcasing your analytical and problem-solving skills to your employer. The downside of this choice is that the plan is extremely time consuming and challenging. The advantage of the management plan skills assessment is that you can finish it in only 4-days, which will be far less than the time to complete a property plan. While it requires some time off from work, this is the quickest option that will be the least stressful as well. This is the best option for anyone who would like to get certified as quickly as possible. The only downsides with this approach is that the classes are not offered very often and they may not be offered in a city near your home.
Once you have completed your courses and passed the management plan requirement, you are well on your way to becoming a Certified Property Manger. The next step is to show that you have at least 3-years of experience as a real estate manager. You must also submit 3 confidential letters of recommendation, and you must have been a CPM candidate for at least 1-year. The final step is to pass the Certified Property Manager Certification Exam.
To prepare for this test you will want to take the exam preparation course that is offered by IREM, which provides a great overview of the topics that are tested. You should also take our free Certified Property Manager practice exam, which will test your preparation and give you an idea of the types of questions on the actual exam. You are allowed to consult your notes and workbooks during the exam, which means you don’t have to focus too much on memorization. But you will definitely want to make sure you are comfortable on your HP10II Financial Calculator, because many of the questions will require financial calculations.
A score of at least 70% is required to pass the exam. Once you have passed it, you will have officially become a Certified Property Manager. This will give you an edge in your career and help you tap into a great network of property management professionals. Getting certified is challenging, but the effort is well worth the reward.