Property Management Career Paths
Unlike other industries, the property management industry has a fairly well defined career path. While the actual career path and professional titles vary by property type and company, their is a typical property management career path. Outlined below, this career path goes from entry level on-site property management jobs to top property management executive positions:
- On-Site Property Manager
- Property Manager
- Regional Property or Portfolio Manager
- Asset Manager
- Property Management Executive
Anyone exploring a property management career can understand the trajectory from entry level on-site management jobs to regional and executive level positions. To understand more about compensation and salary for property managers by title and property type, read this post.
Most property management careers begin in on-site roles. These positions offer professionals broad exposure to all aspects of property management. As a result, they are excellent opportunity to gain hands on industry experience. On-site managers are involved in many areas of property operations. While it varies by company and property type, on-site managers typically have the following responsibilities:
- Coordinate property maintenance
- Handle Tenant and resident relations
- Oversee marketing and leasing
- Collect rents and compile accounting reports
- Supervise additional on-site property staff
While on-site property management jobs are normally the first step in a property management career, they are critically important to property operations. On-site managers help make the entire property go. They are also the best way to get practical training as a property manager. This is especially important because few colleges offer formal property management training or degrees in property management.
On-site managers who take the next step in the property industry often become property managers. While on-site managers handle day to day operations, property managers are focused on the big picture. As a result, they have different responsibilities. The most important of these responsibilities is the maintenance and management of the physical plant and property. Property managers are heavily involved in the planning and execution of property maintenance and projects. While the on-site manager might coordinate a contractor visiting the property, the property manager will outline the scope of work, review bids and award the project.
Additionally, property managers often create property specific management plans. This plan governs the physical plant, financial operations, tenant relations, market positioning and community image building. Lastly, it is important to note the key distinction of property manager roles by industry. Within the multifamily industry, property managers typically oversee multiple properties. Meanwhile, it is common for property managers in the commercial real estate industry to oversee one very large property.
Regional Property Manager
The next rung in the property management career ladder are regional property manager roles. While it varies by company, regional managers are also typically called portfolio managers, which might be a more appropriate title. This is because regional managers are responsible for multiple properties over wide geographic markets. For example, a regional manager might oversee every property in particular state or part of the country. This is why property managers report to regional property or portfolio managers.
Regional managers are responsible for the operations of all the properties in their portfolio. It is very normal for them to frequently travel and visit properties to review all aspects of operations. This includes reviewing financial performance, the physical plant and property personnel. Most regional property managers are responsible for hiring, managing and retaining the property management teams for each property in their portfolio.
Unlike on-site or regional property managers, asset managers focus their time and attention on the financial performance of a property. While they normally work directly for owners, they can also work for third party management companies. As a rule, asset managers focus on the long term appreciation and short term cash flow of the property. Asset managers typically oversee a portfolio of properties. While they work in tandem with property and on-site managers regarding property finances, they are removed from day to day property operations.
Unlike property management roles, asset managers typically have finance and accounting backgrounds. This is because asset managers need a strong understanding of property financing, capital markets and broad economic trends. As a result, it is not always necessary to follow the traditional property management career path to become an asset manager. Similarly, not all property managers become asset managers.
Property Management Executive
The final step of the property management career path is becoming a property management executive. While these positions are few and far between, they are critically important. Property management executives are fully removed from daily property and even portfolio operations. This is because they are running the entire operations of the property management division or company. Common titles for these positions include, president or vice president of property management, national director of property management, or simply president, CEO or COO.
While it is a logical career path from on-site manager to regional property managers, there is no normal career path to property management executive. In most cases, property management executives start their own companies or take on increasingly more senior roles in positions with new companies.
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