Today she teaches Property Management courses at HCC and even wrote the curriculum.

“If you want challenging, fast-paced work, this is ideal,” said Thompson. “Every day is different. Tasks vary. You’ll become a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ because you’ll be asked to do so many unique things.”

Those “tasks” include accounting, resident relations, sales, and an understanding of maintenance issues, all basic requirements in an industry that’s growing by six percent a year in the Houston area.

Property managers not only oversee apartment complexes, but commercial buildings, too. Salaries are based on the size of a building, the number of residents or business clients, and the complexity of managing it efficiently.

The most frequent starting point, Thompson points out, is an apartment complex which needs a leasing consultant or assistant manager.

Because most property management workers have normal working hours, the job attracts students who work during the day and attend classes at night, or who can schedule classes on two days a week and still work full time.

“They don’t have the crazy hours and shifting schedules that jobs in retail or restaurants require,” she said.

It’s also a “phenomenal” opportunity for high school students who aren’t sure what direction they want to go with their careers, and don’t want to sit behind a computer screen all day.

“I have friends who started while they were in college so they could have a place to live other than a dorm, and make spending money at the same time,” Thompson added.

Older people like it as a “secondary job” or a whole new career direction.

Few people enter the business with the full complement of required skills, so HCC offers the Project Management Certificate, a series of four courses that total 89 classroom hours. The courses (Project Management Fundamentals, Successful Property Management, Property Management Essentials and Best Practices, and CAPM Prep) help students learn what they need to pass the Certified Associate in Property Management (CAPM) exam, the “benchmark” credential for professionals.

“The goal of the program is to expose students to the industry and help them to step in at an entry-level position in apartment management,” Thompson said. “They can begin as a leasing consultant, and step up to assistant manager or manager.”

HCC offers Property Management certificate courses throughout the year. Students can take them back-to-back in less than a year for $1,424.

A second level certificate, called Supervisor, Concepts and Practices of Management, requires 48 classroom hours and costs $475.

According to the Houston Apartment Association, the average property manager in the region oversees 277 apartments, has 6.21 years of experience, earns $56,235 in base compensation (benefits included), and another $4,795 in annual bonuses.

Assistant managers, on average, assist in properties with 292 units, have 3.36 years of experience, and earn $34,225 in base pay and $3,630 in bonuses.

More information about Property Management courses at