How to Land a Dream Career in the Apartment Industry

Nov 22, 2021

As DECA delivers career-ready talent to the doorsteps of employers with an emphasis in hospitality, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and management, there is no wider door of opportunity than the apartment industry. Apartments and their residents contribute $3.4 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, supporting 17.5 million jobs.

Once considered a best-kept career secret, DECA has helped increase awareness and promote the apartment industry as one that offers a “career of choice”, not of chance. Students are realizing that they do not have to roll the dice when it comes to discovering a dynamic and rewarding career.

If you're wondering how to discover a career in the apartment industry, use these recommendations to get started!

1. Start locally and engage with a local apartment association.

There are approximately 150 apartment associations throughout the U.S. and Washington, D.C. that are comprised of owners, operators and companies that supply goods and services to the apartment industry. Get involved by joining a committee, attending workshops and events.

2. Partner with a company and establish deep relationships.

Success is a two-way street and “best in class” companies realize that talent development doesn’t happen overnight. There are apartment communities in every zip code and the opportunities are boundless for those eager to learn and apply their skills, knowledge and strengths within a team environment. Job shadowing, internships and part-time opportunities are some “next steps” to explore roles and responsibilities that are offered within the industry.

3. Explore diverse and flexible opportunities.

One of the most appealing qualities about careers in the apartment industry is the various sectors of the industry and the benefits that are offered such as discounts on rent, industry certifications and a predictable career path based on core competencies. Entry-level positions such as leasing, marketing and maintenance offer flexible hours that fit nicely into a student’s schedule and also fill a void for management companies that offer extended hours as well as weekends and holidays.

4. Leverage your strengths.

Career paths in the apartment industry are endless. IT, digital marketing, acquisitions, financial analysis, resident services, environmental management, human resources, social media management – these are just several of many functions that are performed to support the apartment industry.

5. Elevate your experience through credentialing and collaboration.

Micro-badging and industry credentials are excellent ways to expand your learning and enhance your personal brand. Employers today view these achievements as something “above and beyond” and often offer tuition reimbursement after a period of employment as an additional incentive for continual growth and professional development. Many of the industry credential programs offer scholarship opportunities.

Housing is essential to life and the opportunities within the industry are diverse, transferable, portable and “evergreen.” According to national U.S. statistics, there is a demand for 328,000 new housing units annually between now and 2030. With this demand comes the need for talent in all roles from on-site to corporate positions as well as within companies that supply goods and services to the industry. Experts predict that in addition to replacement workers resulting from the retirement of baby boomers and others exiting the workforce, the apartment industry will require more than 100,000 workers over the next decade. DECA is well positioned to prepare career-ready talent for these opportunities through experiential learning opportunities.

While numerous industries offer similar opportunities, there is one distinguishable unique advantage of a career within the apartment industry and that is the opportunity to provide quality affordable housing. Your home is the place that is uniquely personal and often where your life’s story begins. There’s something extremely rewarding in finding a career where your contribution creates meaning and establishes a tangible foundation for success.

Authors and Champions for Apartment Careers:

Debbie Phillips, Ph.D., CPM | President, The Quadrillion
Genevieve Bauer, CPM | SVP, Residential Operations, Balfour Beatty Communities
Sarah Cozewith, CWDP | Director, Workforce Development, National Apartment Association Education Institute


Jump-Start Your Career Today

The demand for rental housing is growing and so is the need for talented, hardworking and creative people to help build strong communities. Jump-start your residential property management career today with RPM Careers.

Discussion Questions

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:

Hospitality and Tourism

Instructional Area(s):

Performance Indicators:

Utilize job-search strategies
Identify sources of career information
Describe techniques for obtaining work experience (e.g., volunteer activities, internships)
Describe certifications for management professionals