Real estate continues to be a lucrative industry, even after the economic downturn of 2008. While property values may never again see the peak they achieved back in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, commercial and private property will always be a sound investment. Of course, not all of us have the massive amount of equity required to get into the real estate game. And you might be uncomfortable with the hit-or-miss structure of a career as a real estate agent, where you could earn a huge check one month but the next several months are completely dry. Due to those issues, many who aspire to work in real estate turn to property management. It’s a great career for those who are passionate about the market and possess strong management skills. The property manager can either work for one specific property or a range of properties on behalf of a management firm. Office complexes, condos, apartment buildings and community associations all need property managers. So if you feel you’re a good candidate, here are five tips to help you get started in the field of property management.

While you might be able to find work as a property manager with only a high school diploma, your chances of landing one of the better positions will increase if you get yourself a bachelor’s degree. Any sort of business or management degree program will suffice. If you want to work on larger accounts for corporate property management companies you should probably go back to school and get a master’s degree in real estate, finance or business administration. Since the job market is so difficult, one of these degrees could distinguish you from the other candidates and help you move up the ladder.

Even after you’ve achieved your degree, look into continuing education courses that focus on property management. You’ll find options all across the country in both traditional classroom and online learning environments. You will be able to pick up these skills on the job, but heading to that first interview with a clear understanding of the basics of property management will make you a more appealing candidate. Take enough classes and you can actually become a certified property manager. Some states have licensing boards, and you can gain certification by passing an exam. Check with the National Property Management Association for requirements in your area.

Now that you’re properly accredited, reach out to some local real estate companies. They often manage a variety of rental properties, and could be looking for someone like you. The realtors would then be able to focus their full attention on sales, and rental properties always have a better rate of retention with a quality property manager in charge.

While not particularly glamorous, one sure path to becoming a property manager is to work as an assistant. Larger apartment complexes and housing facilities run by the government require assistant property managers. If you spend a couple of years in that position you’ll truly learn the job, while only taking on a small amount of the responsibilities. It’s a great way to gain experience and potentially turn property management into a lifelong career.

Finally, consider ways to purchase your own properties and act as the manager. You probably won’t be able to do this right away, but after earning property management degrees and gaining years of experience, you might be able to craft a business plan and convince investors to get on board. If you can set up a situation where you manage properties you own and live off the income, you can slowly turn your management ability into a serious investment asset.