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Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Many people begin property management careers as assistants, working closely with a property manager and learning how to prepare budgets, analyze insurance coverage and risk options, market property to prospective tenants, and collect overdue rent payments. In time, many assistants advance to property manager positions.

Some people start as onsite managers of apartment buildings, office complexes, or community associations. As they gain experience, often working under the supervision of a more experienced property manager, they may advance to positions of greater responsibility. Those who excel as onsite managers often transfer to assistant offsite property manager positions, in which they can gain experience handling a broad range of property management responsibilities.

The responsibilities and compensation of property, real estate, and community association managers increase as these workers manage more and larger properties. Property managers are responsible for several properties at a time. As their careers advance, they gradually are entrusted with larger properties that are more complex to manage. Many specialize in the management of one type of property, such as apartments, office buildings, condominiums, cooperatives, homeowners' associations, or retail properties. Managers who do well at marketing properties to tenants might specialize in managing new properties, while those who are specifically knowledgeable about buildings and their mechanical systems might specialize in the management of older properties requiring renovation or more frequent repairs. Some experienced managers open their own property management firms.

Many employers encourage managers to attend short-term formal training programs conducted by various professional and trade associations that are active in the real estate field. Employers send managers to these programs to develop their management skills and expand their knowledge of specialized fields, such as the operation and maintenance of mechanical systems in buildings, the improvement of property values, insurance and risk management, personnel management, business and real estate law, community association risks and liabilities, tenant relations, communications, accounting and financial concepts, and reserve funding. Managers also participate in these programs to prepare themselves for positions of greater responsibility in property management. The completion of such programs, plus related job experience and a satisfactory score on a written examination, can lead to certification, or the formal award of a professional designation, by the sponsoring association. (Some organizations offering certifications are listed as sources of additional information at the end of this statement.) A number of associations also require their members to adhere to a specific code of ethics.

Property, real estate, and community association managers held about 304,100 jobs in 2008. About 46 percent of these managers are self-employed. Another 21 percent worked for lessors of real estate and in offices of real estate agents and brokers. Others worked for government agencies that manage public buildings.

Job Outlook
About as fast as average employment growth is expected. Opportunities should be best for jobseekers with a college degree in business administration, real estate, or a related field and for those who attain a professional designation. Particularly good opportunities are expected for those with experience managing housing for older people or with experience running healthcare facilities.

Job Growth
Employment of property, real estate, and community association managers is projected to increase by 8 percent during the 200818 decade, about as fast as average for all occupations. Job growth will be attributable to a growing population that will increasingly live in developments managed by third-party property management companies. These developments include apartment buildings, condominiums, homeowner associations, and the fast-growing amount of senior housing. Developments of new homes are increasingly being organized with community or homeowner associations that provide community services and oversee jointly owned common areas requiring professional management. There is also increasing awareness that property management firms help make properties more profitable and improve the resale value of homes and commercial property.

To cater to the increasing population, a small rise in the number of commercial and retail buildings that will need to be managed also will generate jobs for property managers.

In addition to openings from job growth, a number of openings are expected as managers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Opportunities should be best for jobseekers with a college degree in business administration, real estate, or a related field and for those who attain a professional designation. Because of the projected increase in the elderly population, particularly good opportunities are expected for those with experience managing housing for older people and with experience managing healthcare facilities.

Median annual wages of salaried property, real estate, and community association managers were $46,130 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,730 and $68,770 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,250 a year.

Many resident apartment managers and onsite association managers receive the use of an apartment as part of their compensation package. In addition, managers often are reimbursed for the use of their personal vehicles.

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