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April 23, 2020| Lester Yat

They wear many hats, juggle numerous tasks, and serve a wide variety of masters. Community association managers have to use every tool in the toolbox to keep condominiums running smoothly and residents happy.

But where do they get those tools? And how does an association know is a manager has them?

Here’s a start: Check the manager’s designations. Savvy property managers today have an alphabet soup of letters after their names — and they’re letters that were well-earned. In previous blog postings, we’ve touched on the wide range of designations conferred by the Community Associations Institute and the Pennsylvania Apartment Association.

Let’s take a closer look at managers, and what those designations mean.

CAI calls managers “the professional backbone of the communities they serve” and encourages its members to constantly pursue education to hone their skills. The courses it offers to managers through the Professional Management Development Program focus on such topics as insurance, finance, leadership, governance and communications — all areas that property managers will call into play in their communities.

The first step on the designation trail is the CMCA or Certified Manager of Community Associations. The only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives, the CMCA recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the fundamental knowledge required to manage community associations.

The Association Management Specialist (AMS) designation indicates a manager has at least two years of verified experience in financial, administrative, and facilities management of at least one association, has successfully completed at least two “M-200 level” courses in the PMDP series; and  has successfully passed the CMCA exam. But it doesn’t end there — the manager must continue to take courses to maintain the designation.

The PCAM (Professional Community Association Manager) designation is considered “the pinnacle of community association management… the elite—the select—the best.” If your manager has a PCAM designation, you know that he or she has advanced skills and knowledge and is among the most experienced in the nation.

Another organization offering designations — the initials you’ll see after a manager’s name — is the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), which offers certification programs for asset or property managers, residential site managers and commercial site managers

IREM’s credentials for residential managers begin with the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation. The next designation is the ARM — Accredited Residential Manager — which is conferred on experienced residential real estate managers who successfully complete IREM management courses and ethics education courses. According to IREM, the ARM certification shows that a manager values education, and is reliable, knowledgeable, and an ethical practitioner.

Looking for an experienced professional to manager your property? Look for the letters!