Are you interested in finding out how to become a property manager in California?

Finding and vetting new tenants for a property, as well as negotiating the lease conditions, may be among your responsibilities as a property manager in California.

Additionally, you can be in charge of contacting the property owner, collecting rent, inspecting and maintaining the property, and providing updates.

If you want to join a property management company in California, you must acquire a real estate salesperson license from the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). 

To be eligible, you need to pass the CA Salesperson Exam, be at least 18 years old, complete 135 hours of pre-licensing coursework, and partner with a broker who will sponsor your real estate license. You will also have to submit your application and pay the $245 license fee to the DRE.

Property Manager

Property managers are professional people responsible for overseeing the daily operations of rental properties - this involves anything from residential properties to commercial real estate.

Furthermore, property managers will often take over when property owners don't want to or are unable to.

People often also refer to property managers as:

  • Asset managers
  • Real estate managers
  • Property administrators
  • Landlords
  • Investment managers

It's crucial to keep in mind that real estate managers are not responsible for buying or selling real estate. In order to be a licensed property manager in California, you need to have a real estate broker's license and meet the other requirements(discussed below).


If you want to become a property manager in California, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be an American citizen or permanent resident in the USA
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

You will only be able to work for a California property management company if you meet all these requirements.

Expected Earnings

Property managers make between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. However, this varies widely depending on the number of managed properties, experience level, location, certifications, property management company, and education.

A higher pay grade can also be influenced by your understanding of the industry and technology, including well-known systems such as Yardi, Realpage, and Propertyware.


Managing rental agreements is one of a property manager's main responsibilities. They are in charge of reviewing every application for a tenant that comes in, whether it be through background checks or examining the tenants' credit scores.

Additionally, real estate managers organize home inspections. The tenant is subject to two inspections: one upon move-in and one upon departure.

Another aspect of the property manager's job is communication. The property management business is the intermediary - you must inform the landlord and the tenant of any changes to the property.

Real estate managers also oversee accounting and financing, from receiving rent payments to covering costs. You need to do all of this while scheduling showings and taking care of marketing.

Property Manager Responsibilities

All real estate managers need to adhere to California property management laws; however, some of the applicable responsibilities include:

  • Conducting showings and tours for prospective tenants.
  • Performing property inspections.
  • Marketing available rental units.
  • Communicating with tenants.
  • Being the middleman for property owners and tenants.
  • Tenant screening.
  • Facilitating the signing and preparation of rental agreements.
  • Processing lease renewals.
  • Attending court eviction proceedings.
  • Following up on late rental payments.
  • Reporting and accounting duties.
  • Coordinating the turnover process.
  • Ensuring the rental property complies with California real estate laws and building codes.
  • Hiring and managing vendors for routine maintenance and repairs.


Property management companies look for certain skills in real estate managers, such as:

  • Patience: It takes persistence and skill to resolve conflicts among renters or calm down a stressed property owner.
  • Communication: A property manager is frequently in contact with tenants, owners, vendors, and potential applications. Strong written and verbal communication is essential! Furthermore, property managers communicate with tenants every day via phone calls, emails, texts, and written notices.
  • Basic Accounting: Property managers need a basic understanding of accounting to manage tasks, including tracking rent payments, calculating and recording late fines, and maintaining spending reports. Despite the fact that many software tools make accounting for property managers a breeze, some familiarity with best practices is required.
  • Organization: Real estate managers have many responsibilities, and it takes remarkable organization to keep track of all the many operations. Moreover, time management and the capacity for multitasking are required for managing lease procedures, accounting, and turnover maintenance.
  • Attention to Detail: Legal paperwork and sensitive information are involved in managing rental property. Therefore, when completing contracts, delivering notices, and abiding by all applicable regulations, accuracy is crucial.


California real estate managers need the following qualifications to obtain their property manager certificate:

What Education and Certification are Needed for a Rental Manager?

Property management businesses may require its property managers to have varying levels of education and certifications in addition to high school diplomas. These qualifications include:

Education Requirements for Real Estate Managers

Although a high school diploma is the minimum requirement, many property management companies demand college experience. 

A few of the common undergraduate courses required in this industry include:

  • Real estate principles
  • Finance
  • Property management
  • Risk management
  • Business administration

Real estate practice is crucial if you want to join a property management company.

Property Manager Certifications

It is crucial to remember that while certificates relate to national real estate accreditations, licenses often start at the state level. There are a number of credentials to take into consideration for people wishing to enter the property management industry. However, to become a property manager in California, you also need your real estate broker's license.

Let's look at these qualifications in more detail:

National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP)

Applying for entry-level employment, such as a leasing agent, with a real estate broker or property management firm is the first step. The National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) credential also educates leasing agents or assistant property managers on the fundamental abilities required to perform their professions well.

In order to become certified by the NALP, people must meet the following criteria:

  • Onsite experience for at least six months.
  • Obtain a provisional certificate for the six-month qualification period.
  • Complete seven NALP courses for 25 credit hours.
  • Complete all requirements within 12 months of enrolling for the course.
Certified Apartment Manager (CAM)

The next level for a leasing professional after learning essential industry fundamentals is property management. As a result, training for Certified Apartment Managers (CAM) is designed for onsite managers, who frequently represent the only person that lessees deal with on a regular basis. This certification enables California property managers to serve as the best possible advocates for local property owners.

You must meet the following requirements:

  • Onsite experience for at least 12 months.
  • Complete all CAM courses for 40 credit hours
  • Obtain a provisional certificate for the 12-month period.
  • Complete all necessary requirements within 12 months of enrolling for the course.
Certified Property Manager (CPM)

This is a highly regarded title in the property management business.

The requirements include:

  • Applicants must have a real estate broker's license or prove they don't need to have a license for their current position.
  • Complete at least three years of continuous employment in a qualifying property management role.
  • Meet 19 out of the 36 CPM Functional Requirements activities to qualify for the CPM certificate.
  • Meet these requirements within 12 months of enrollment.
Master Property Manager (MPM)

A Master Property Manager, or MPM, is the highest level of distinction one may obtain in the property management industry. This calls for a minimum of 60 continuous months of employment in real estate management. A successful applicant must also fulfill all prerequisites for a CPM certification. A minimum unit count of 500 residential units at one or more sites or 100 units at five or more sites is required for the portfolio criteria, which are also slightly higher.

The Bottom Line

Are you interested in becoming a property manager? You need to be prepared to work hard! While it is a long and challenging process, it is extremely rewarding.

To learn more about real estate and property management, check out our blog!

You can create your own property management company and expand it. Once you receive your property management certification, you'll start reaping the rewards.

... and to learn more about DoorLoop, click here!

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!