Property management courses help people begin and advance through a property management career. There are courses designed for each career stage that cover important real estate laws, tenant relations, and how to maintain a building. By taking a property management course you can earn a certification to launch your career or to earn a higher-paying position.
The best property management courses offer real-world knowledge while being mindful of your time and budget. Our list will help you understand which type of property management course is suited to your experience and interests to help you achieve your goals.
Best Property Management Courses of 2021
- Best Overall: Certified Apartment Management Course—NAA
- Best for Beginners: Property Management Certificate Course—Penn Foster
- Best for Working Property Managers: Certified Property Manager Course—IREM
- Best for Residential Property Management: Master Property Manager Course—NARPM
- Best for Vacation Rental Management: Vacation Rental Management Course—VRMA
- Best for Commercial Property Management: Certified Manager for Commercial Properties Course—BOMA
Best Overall : Certified Apartment Management Course—NAA
The Certified Apartment Management Course by the National Apartment Association tops our list as best overall property management course not only thanks to the extensive list of topics it covers, but because the topics can be applied to other property niches aside from apartments.
Comprehensive course material
Among the lowest-priced courses
Membership discount benefits available
Need one year of experience by exam date
Ongoing costs and continuing education credits to maintain the credential
The topics covered in the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) Course’s eight modules will prepare you for managing apartments, one of the most common specialties in real estate, and provide a firm foundation for growing your property management skills if your career leads you to other niches. This widely applicable foundation, coupled with its comparatively low cost, makes it our choice for the best property management course overall.
The National Apartment Association (NAA) has over 82,000 members throughout the U.S. and offers credentials and education to apartment industry professionals. The association consists of 153 regional affiliate organizations.
The CAM course covers the gamut of essential topics needed for managing apartments. It introduces students to industry essentials, financial management, legal requirements, property maintenance, management, inspection, and other important subjects like creating a relationship with residents. Students have a year to complete the 40 hours of coursework consisting of eight modules. They also have to show that they have actively managed apartments for at least one year before their exam date.
Modules can be purchased one at a time, or as a full program. The course is conducted online through the NAA’s e-learning platform partner, Visto. Exams are offered at your local NAA affiliate, or online monitored by a proctor via webcam.
The full course costs non-NAA members $1,017, while each module can be purchased separately for $135. The exam fee is included in the price of the course, but you’ll have to pay more if you need to retake the test. The course is only $865 for NAA members; membership costs vary based on how many units you manage, with an average of about $3 per unit yearly. To maintain your CAM credentials, you’ll need to take six credits of continuing education which cost $100 per year in total.
Best for Beginners : Property Management Certificate Course—Penn Foster
With their affordable price, comprehensive course program, and no background experience required, Penn Foster’s Property Management Certificate Course is our winner for beginners.
Student support services
Flexible online format
Textbooks included with tuition
Doesn’t go far beyond the basics
No in-person option
Might not cover licensing requirements in all states— check with your state licensing board
Most property management courses require a year or more of experience in the field before you can apply, but the Penn Foster Property Management Certificate Course is an exception. If you’re looking for a comprehensive starter course that doesn’t require time in the field first, check out Penn Foster for a deep-dive introduction.
Penn Foster is a unique educational institution that offers private high school, college, and career programs that you can afford. The company has been teaching students for over 125 years and is a leader in innovative, flexible, and affordable education. Their 200,000 active students learn on Penn Foster’s unique PFx online learning platform.
The Property Management Certificate Course covers the basics of real estate law, maintenance, tenant relations, and facility management. The course is available completely online in a self-paced, mobile-friendly format. They don’t offer an in-person learning option, though. Thankfully, textbooks and other learning materials are included in your tuition, so you won’t have to worry about purchasing them separately.
This course is very well-priced at $479 if you pay in full. They do have monthly payment options, but you’ll end up paying more. The course includes access to student support services and the ability to connect with fellow students.
Best for Working Property Managers : Certified Property Manager Course—IREM
For property managers who already have some experience, the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) offers a comprehensive, expert-level Certified Property Manager Course that has proven to help graduates get promotions and nearly double their income.
Courses can be waived with a college degree, certification, or experience
Graduates typically earn more and get promoted
Expert-level comprehensive courses
IREM membership included when you enroll
You’ll earn a digital badge to add to your email and social media profiles
Need 36 months of real estate management experience to become certified
Expensive compared to other courses
Ongoing costs to maintain the designation
We chose IREM’s Certified Property Manager (CPM) Course as the best for working property managers because their program was created for professionals who are serious about getting promoted and earning a higher salary. IREM has been around since 1933 and its nearly 20,000 members have proven that its courses are worth it. CPM boasts 144% greater earnings than non-certified property managers and they land higher-level positions as well.
The CPM Course covers advanced-level topics such as investment real estate, ethics, and leadership. If you already have a degree, certain certificates, or over 20 years of experience in property management, you can skip seven of the eight required courses. The courses are offered in-person, and most are available online, too. There is a two-part final exam and certification called the Capstone. Most students graduate in 18 to 24 months.
This course is one of the most expensive property management courses, costing between $7,500 and $8,500. There is an opportunity for IREM members to get a discount on some courses. You should also know that in order to maintain your CPM designation, you’ll have to continue paying yearly dues.
In order to graduate, you’ll need to have 36 months of qualifying real estate management experience, so this course is best suited to those who are already in the industry.
Best for Residential Property Management : Master Property Manager Course—NARPM
For those with extensive residential property management experience, the Master Property Manager (MPM) Course is perfect for you. This course digs deep into the specialized knowledge you need to become an industry leader, set you apart from your peers, and open the path toward other certifications.
Highest level NARPM designation
Many course options
Need to have managed at least 500 units to become designated
Long hourly commitment compared to other programs
For seasoned property managers who have managed at least 500 units in the last five years, the MPM course is the highest NARPM designation, and credibility-wise, elevates you to the top of your real estate management career, making it our top choice for residential property management courses.
In addition to having managed 500 units in the last five years, the MPM course requirements include:
- Membership in NARPM
- Letters of recommendation from three clients
- Letters of recommendation from two MPM designees who are not employed by your company
- Completion of 24 hours of NARPM courses
- Attendance at two national conventions or two NARPM-sanctioned state or regional conferences
- Completion of the NARPM Ethics course
- Completion of several career electives such as attending local NARPM chapter meetings or serving as a committee member
To become an MPM, you’ll first need to complete the Residential Management Professional (RMP) designation. That course consists of 18 hours of coursework and costs $795. Afterward, you can work towards your MPM designation by taking an additional 24 course hours.
The courses are available online with some in-person options. Each regional chapter hosts its own classes and presentations; the schedule for your chapter can be found on their website by entering your location. Courses range from $45 to $265 for non-members, though you can get significant discounts if you become a member at $295 per year.
Best for Vacation Rental Management : Vacation Rental Management Course—VRMA
To get started in the vacation rental industry, the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) offers the best specialized Vacation Rental Management Course thanks to its expert panel of course designers, low price, and short hourly requirements.
Developed by range of industry experts
Shorter course, only five modules
Self-paced online format
Ongoing costs after graduation
No in-person option
If your dream is to manage vacation rentals, then the VRMA’s Vacation Rental Management Course is your ticket. We favor this course because it’s specifically designed for vacation property managers, and its online format means you can learn remotely from wherever you learn best at your own pace.
The VRMA is an organization that has been bringing together vacation property managers, supplies, and other professionals since 1985. Members enjoy networking events, professional development and education, access to the VRMA magazine, and online content.
This course was developed by the VRMA and a panel of leading industry experts in 2016 with the purpose of creating a property management certification just for vacation rental managers. The course contains five modules of everything you need to know to start or grow your own vacation rental management business. You’ll learn about business operations and planning, organization management, marketing and promotion, guest relations, and owner relations.
The self-paced course is fully online, which is great for busy property managers, but not the best for people who prefer to learn in person.
The Vacation Rental Management Course is $750, but you can bring the price down to $450 if you become a member. Memberships for property managers start at $420 per year. After you graduate, you’ll need to submit $100 and 15 continuing education credits every three years to keep your certification up-to-date. For those just starting out in vacation rental management, this is the perfect beginner course.
Best for Commercial Property Management : Certified Manager for Commercial Properties Course—BOMA
For property managers interested in commercial property management, we chose the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP) course. You’ll benefit from BOMA’s commercial real estate industry reputation, the network it provides, and its world-class course content.
Reasonable cost for course and exam
Flexible online format
Digital textbook and study guides included
Need a degree or four years of experience
No in-person learning option
Testing is in-person or online proctored
BOMA is the name to know in commercial property management, so it’s no surprise that their course is our winner. The course is custom-designed to make you an expert in commercial property management by giving you real-world knowledge and linking you to an international network of professionals.
BOMA’s Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP) course was custom-created in July 2019 to prepare property managers for a successful career in the industry. BOMA isn’t a newcomer to the commercial real estate space, however; they’ve been bringing together owners, managers, and property professionals of commercial buildings since 1907.
If you have a degree and some experience as a property manager, you may be able to skip the course and go right to the exam. However, if you don’t have a degree, you’ll need four years of property management experience and 30 hours of verifiable education in commercial property management to qualify. BOMA’s course is exactly 30 hours and meets all of the education requirements, so you’ll be ready for the exam.
The course covers subjects specific to commercial property management, including accounting and finance, commercial lease management, risk management and ethics, maintenance and property management, and more. It’s self-paced and fully online, and the digital textbook and study materials are included in the cost.
For the course and the exam, you’ll pay $1,170. It’s important to note that the exam is offered in-person, or in an online format with a proctor observing you via webcam. To find testing locations or to check the technical requirements for online testing, check out the CMCP Exam Information webpage.
No matter where you are in your property management career, there is a property management course for you. Most courses, however, do require one or more years of relevant experience to apply. For those just starting out, Penn Foster’s Property Management Certificate will get you started in the industry.
When you consider a course, look for one led by an instructor who brings real-world experience to the discussion with certifications from well-known organizations that are respected in the industry. Our overall best, the Certified Apartment Manager course created and endorsed by the National Apartment Association, fits the bill. There are many online courses out there, many with very low tuition, but you’ll find that these aren't respected by professionals in the property management and real estate industries. Our list only includes reputable organizations offering courses that result in recognized career designations.
Compare the Best Property Management Courses
|Course||Cost||Length of Course||Topics Covered||Course Format||Instructor|
|Certified Apartment Management Course— NAA Best Overall||Full course costs $1,017 for non-members, $865 for NAA members
You can opt to buy each module for $135 (non-members) and $115 for members
|40 hours||Industry essentials
|Property Management Certificate Course— Penn Foster Best for Beginners||$479||Self-paced program consisting of 8 courses||Computer applications
Accounting and valuation
Real estate law
Property management strategies
|Online, mobile-friendly||Penn Foster|
|Certified Property Manager Course—IREM
Best for Working Property Managers
|Averages $7,500 to $8,500||Average of 18 to 24 months for 8 courses and capstone||Ethics
Investment real estate: financing, performance, valuation, and asset analysis
Marketing and leasing
Maintenance and property risk
|Online and in-person||Institute of Real Estate Management|
|Master Property Manager Course—
Best for Residential Property Management
|Averages $2,000||42 course hours||Options include:
Advanced risk management
|Online Some in-person options||National Association of Residential Property Managers|
|Vacation Rental Management Course—VRMA
Best for Vacation Rental Management
|$750||$750 for non-members $450 for members||Five self-paced modules||Business operations Business planning and organizational management Marketing and promotion Guest relations Owner relations||Online||Vacation Rental Management Association instructors|
|Certified Manager for Commercial Properties Course—
Best for Commercial Property Management
|$1,170 for course and exam||30 course hours||Accounting and finance
Risk management and ethics
Maintenance and property management
Networking and communications
|Online||Building Owners and Managers Association International|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Learn in a Property Management Course?
Property management courses cover topics such as building maintenance, tenancy, real estate law, fair housing, client relations, and marketing. Some courses include a certification or designation if you pass.
While topics such as maximizing the net operating income of your property, staff recruitment and retention, resident turnover processes, and property inspection skills are baked into most courses, perhaps the most critical elements you’ll learn are the legal requirements for each of these topics to ensure the investor, property owner, staff, and of course, the tenants, are treated fairly.
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Property Management Course?
Many property management courses are conducted online in a self-paced format, so you decide how quickly you want to finish a course. Courses range from 18 to 42 hours that can be completed at a time and place that works with your schedule. The popular online and self-paced format accommodates people who work in the field full-time while taking the classes after hours. Courses end when you successfully pass the exam. If you don’t pass on the first try, most courses allow you to re-take the exam. This will extend your completion date and in some cases comes with an additional fee.
How Much Do Property Management Courses Cost?
While single courses can cost as low as $45, courses with certifications or designations can cost from $479 up to $8,500. Cost will depend on the level of specialization, course format (online or in-person), and the company offering the course. Upon completion of the course, you will receive a designation or credential that you can place after your name, and recognition that you’ve studied and tested your knowledge in tenant relations, property maintenance, human resources, legal requirements for your niche, and financial management.
Do I Need to Take a Property Management Course to Get a Job?
A property management course is a great way to grow your career. Certifications and designations can help you get a higher-paying position, but they can be expensive, and some require you to have experience first. Taking a property management course is definitely worth it if you want to expand your skills or specialize in commercial or vacation property.
How We Chose the Best Property Management Courses
To find the best property management courses, we researched 10 property management courses in order to pare down to the best offerings. We considered specialized and general courses based on the main types of property management. Some of the courses require experience or a degree, but we also prioritized courses for those just starting out in the property management industry. Our winners prepare students for successful careers by giving them real-world knowledge, are mindful of their time and work schedules, and reflect a range of costs for every budget.