We sat down with Linda Ross, NALP, CAM Emeritus, to talk about why she believes credentials are so important and how it has helped her excel in her career.
Linda is the Property Manager at Fontainbleu Terrace Apartments in Huntsville, Alabama. She has numerous certifications but says her NALP and CAM credentials are her “Invisible Shields’ and have afforded her a very long, stable career. And in 2019 she was recognized for her excellence and leadership in the apartment housing industry with the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) of the Year Award.
Let’s start with what led you to pursue your first credential.
I had been a bookkeeper for a number of years, and one day I was asked to assist in answering the phones on Saturday at the apartment community where I lived. I was a single parent and I needed the help so I said “sure, I can do that.” I found that I really liked it — I loved the interaction with the people and, over the years, have built lasting relationships and I find that very rewarding on a personal level.
Then I sought out my real estate license and I didn’t like selling real estate. I ended up finding a job as an assistant manager at a property with 64 units. It didn’t pay a whole lot — I wanted more and I didn’t have any health insurance there. That is when I decided, okay, if I want to make a career out of this, I have to get serious, and just this real estate license isn’t going to do it.
Why was it so important to get a credential?
I needed to get a full grip on what was going on at the property to feel like I knew what people were telling me and I had an understanding of it. So I attended maintenance classes and seminars and then got an NALP and a CAM Emeritus — these two have afforded me a very stable, long, happy career.
How has having a credential helped you in your career?
I got a substantially higher increase in my pay and bonuses but that’s not the first thing that came to mind. Having a NALP and CAM has protected me, my family, my house – it’s like an invisible shield guarding and protecting me from what I don’t know is going to happen now or in the future.
And, CAM Emeritus has given me a level of respect that I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about earning a credential?
I would say not to even think about a career in this field without it. One of the opportunities today is online training. That wasn’t available when I started. So for me to see somebody not take advantage of it – they’re limiting themselves. The affordable costs make it really easy to invest in yourself.
Any other thoughts on the benefits of investing in yourself?
The best person to invest in is yourself and you cannot rely on other people to do it. The opportunities that are available to us are not only convenient, but they’re affordable. You have to do it if you’re going to make a career choice in this industry.