Are you ready to take your real estate career to the next level? Here are some of the Best Real Estate Designations & Certifications you can get in 2023.
The real estate industry is demanding, with brokers and agents continually seeking extra knowledge to stay at the top of their game.
Becoming a real estate agent and acquiring a license is one thing, but once you start working, you will be expected to deliver results consistently.
Getting some of the best real estate designations demonstrates to your clients that you are committed to your career and are an expert in the field. This not only signifies that you have the necessary tools but also positions you at the top of the hierarchy.
Keep in mind that there are dozens of designations and certifications available, with many offered through NAR’s Center For Realtor Development.
Here is the full list of real estate designations provided by NAR, along with pricing and sign-up links.
- Do You Still Need To Get Your Real Estate License?
- Should You Get Real Estate Designations?
- ABR Real Estate Designation
- CCIM Real Estate Designation
- CRS Real Estate Designation
- SRS Real Estate Designation
- CPM Real Estate Designation
- CIPS Real Estate Designation
- CRB Real Estate Designation
- ALC Real Estate Designation
- ATWD Real Estate Certification
- Smart Home Certification
- C-RETS Real Estate Certification
- RSPS Real Estate Certification
- Social Media Certification
- PSA Real Estate Certification
- e-PRO Certification
- MRP Real Estate Certification
- Best Real Estate Designations for 2023 – Final Thoughts
Do You Still Need To Get Your Real Estate License?
If you are looking to obtain your real estate license or continue your education this year, we have a comprehensive article on the best online real estate schools. Colibri Real Estate is a popular choice for obtaining your real estate license. Additionally, we have reviews of AceableAgent and The CE Shop online real estate schools. Each of these schools has its own set of pros and cons.
If you’re reading this article, you likely already have your real estate license. Keep reading to discover our favorite real estate designations and certifications.
Should You Get Real Estate Designations?
REALTORS are not obligated to obtain any designations throughout their careers. You can excel in your niche without multiple real estate designations, and some agents choose not to pursue them, which is entirely acceptable. If certifications aren’t your preference, focus on doing your job to the best of your ability.
However, acquiring certain widely recognized accolades can bring several benefits. Obtaining the best real estate designations garners professional respect and establishes you as an expert in the eyes of colleagues and clients.
It can also open up career advancement opportunities, demonstrating your dedication to the industry and your commitment to self-improvement.
Imagine a client visiting your office and seeing 5-6 certificates hanging on the wall. This not only exudes confidence and diligence but also immediately fosters a level of trust.
With that introduction, let’s explore some of the best real estate certifications and designations for 2023. We’ll begin by discussing top real estate designations before moving on to certifications, listed without a specific order of importance.
ABR Real Estate Designation
If you don’t know where to start, this is the best one to acquire first.
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) could be considered as your window to the world of designations and certificates.
It doesn’t take a lot of work to get it, and therefore, it is perfect for those who have just started their career and want to take one step forward.
Should I Get the ABR Real Estate Designation?
This designation is for real estate agents who are working directly with buyers.
In other words, you will gain the necessary knowledge to help the buyer opt for the best home possible.
Furthermore, you will become familiar with the latest information and trends regarding home-buying so that you can put that knowledge into practice.
Get this designation, and you will unlock the publications for the members-only.
Here is a video about the ABR Designation from our friends at the Center for REALTOR® Development:
How Do I Get the ABR Real Estate Designation?
- You will have to pay for the courses, and the prices can vary on the one you select.
- Memberships in good standing in REBAC and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are obligatory.
- You will need to prove that you have completed a minimum of five transactions as a buyer representative.
- Pass the exam with a minimum of 80%
ABR Designation Final Thoughts
This designation proves to be one of the less expensive and easier. It would be considered by many to be one of the best real estate designations to get.
It doesn’t require much work, and it is a great way to start your journey.
As a beginner real estate agent, you are working primarily with buyers than sellers, so if you ever needed to expand your knowledge plus get a confidence boost, apply for the ABR.
CCIM Real Estate Designation
When you get your CCIM designation, you become a “Certified Commercial Investment Member.”
Brokers who are working in commercial and investment real estate are likely to pursue the CCIM designation.
Should I Get the CCIM Designation?
To gain recognition within the commercial real estate space, you will need CCIM.
Currently, approximately 13,000 people around the United States have the CCIM designation.
Other than brokers, you can find attorneys, bankers, property managers, corporate real estate executives, leasing experts, investment counselors, appraisers, and many more…
This is designation is for more experienced people, so let’s see what it takes to get there.
How Do I Get The CCIM Designation?
- You will have to complete core courses (including Financial and Market Analysis, User Decision and Investment Analysis, and Ethics and Negotiations training). There are some elective courses as well.
- A minimum of two years of experience in the commercial real estate industry is required to apply.
- Memberships in good standing in CCIM institute and NAR.
- A portfolio of Qualifying Experience is something you have to submit to prove that you have been working actively and have fulfilled all the spots.
- Pass the Exam with a minimum of 70%
- For maintaining the membership, the prices differ depending on the country, but it is $650 per year for US citizens.
CCIM Designation Final Thoughts
Anyone who wants to partake in the commercial real estate industry will do much better with CCIM.
Acquiring this designation will not be a walk in the park, but all the effort is worth it.
Once you join the elite club of CCIM members, you will see the benefits it offers. Not only that! The knowledge you gain will help you alleviate your career to a whole new level.
It isn’t surprising this is one of the best real estate designations for commercial real estate agents.
CRS Real Estate Designation
Although not incredibly expensive, the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) is one of the highest designations residential agents, managers, and brokers can earn.
Yes, there is also the GRI. Since CRS is at the top of the ladder for these groups, only a small number of people obtained it.
Should I Get the CRS Designation?
The benefits of earning this designation are genuinely amazing.
One of the main reasons agents apply is that they become a part of a referral network, plus they get a 50% discount on almost every class issued by the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC).
Free subscriptions, events, and some other values are also available, besides the fact that you become a highly respected member of your niche.
How Do I Get The CRS Designation?
Agents who decide to apply for CRS can select two education paths:
- 60/30/30 Program – It contains 30 hours of RRC education. You will need to complete 60 transactions or accumulate $30 million in sales in the past five years.
- Pro Program – This one is almost half the time shorter with just above 15 hours of educational material. In case you have less than ten years of experience, forget about this.
Also, another requirement is 150 total transactions completed or a minimum of 40 transactions with an average of $1 million per year.
- Residential Real Estate Council and NAR Memberships
- $99 Application Fee
Interestingly enough, you don’t have to pass an exam here. However, considering what it takes to acquire CRS in the first place, this is only fair.
CRS Designation Final Thoughts
The reasons why the percentage of agents who obtain CRS is low are probably clear to you. You need to be quite successful in the real estate industry, year after year, to consider applying.
The annual fees are less than $200 and you will need to participate in some CE courses each year to maintain it.
Even though it is a pain to get, the CRS is truly valuable and one of the best designations in 2023.
SRS Real Estate Designation
The real estate industry is a broad term and plenty of positions exist.
For residential real estate agents who represent sellers and want to know more about the best way to do so, the Seller Representative Specialist or SRS is the designation for them.
In our opinion, the SRS is probably the second-best real estate designation to get after the ABR (granted the GRI Designation is tops but that one comes later for most agents).
Should I Get the SRS Designation?
First of all, the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI) issues this designation.
Secondly, the applicants’ benefits are multiple – they will receive proper training in representing sellers in the best way possible.
For instance, people will learn communication skills regarding the presentation of packages, increase the listings.
Simultaneously, the course tackles ethics, laws, and some tools and methods to help you provide support to the sellers.
Once you become a part of the SRS club, you will get individual subscriptions and become a part of the trained sellers’ elite group.
Other members-only advantages are included, such as limited webinars and videos.
How Do I Get the SRS Designation?
We have some good news here. Acquiring the SRS real estate designation isn’t that difficult, and here are some aspects of it:
- Memberships in good standing in NAR and SRS.
- Complete the SRS designation course or one of the elective courses.
- You will have to show a minimum of three sales where you were the seller representative only and submit such documentation as an application.
- No exam is required.
SRS Designation Final Thoughts
Having a free membership in the first year and paying only $99 for maintenance in the upcoming years is the reason enough to pursue SRS.
The process of obtaining this designation will not take too much of your time, and you can do so with only three completed transactions, as we have already mentioned, which means that it is great for the newcomers to the industry.
Even though the SRS isn’t expensive, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer any value.
On the contrary, the SRS designation is one of the best you can get in 2023.
CPM Real Estate Designation
We’ve tackled different positions within the real estate industry and now we come to property managers.
They too, can earn some credits and excel at what they do, and acquiring the Certified Property Manager designation or CPM is a step in the right direction.
Should I Get the CPM Designation?
The people with this designation are often top dogs in their niche and usually, you will find a lot of owners and directors with this accolade.
Besides the recognition as an expert from your colleagues, you will participate in webinars and new resources will be unlocked to you.
The IREM Career Center access becomes available as well as some other things such as IREM publications, a member directory, etc.
How Do I Get the CPM Designation?
The requirements for this designation stretch out into the unknown.
Jokes aside, it does take a lot to join the CPM Club, but let’s try to summarize this the best way possible.
- You will have to complete seven courses OR have a CCIM, FM, CSM, PCAM, RPA, or SIOR designation, OR have a BA with a major or minor in real estate property management OR have 20 years of management experience. Every option instead of coursework comes with the approval fee as well.
- You will need to complete the Ethics course and uphold the IREM Code of Professional Ethics.
- Show three professional reference letters
- Pass the CPM exam
- You will also need at least three years of experience in that niche.
- Other things such as Membership in NAR, licenses, IREM meetings, and interviews are also needed.
CPM Designation Final Thoughts
What’s off-putting by this designation is the price.
To acquire it by listening to courses, you will have to pay $3,924 and those approval fees we mentioned earlier, if you choose any other method, aren’t cheap.
They are $800 for those in the fast track programs (if you aren’t on a fast track, this isn’t necessary).
The exam, ethics course, and management plans are all paid individually and each costs hundreds of dollars. The annual fee is close to $500.
The price is high, indeed. However, having in mind that property managers occupy high positions and their salaries are often steep, they can afford it.
CPM is one of the best real estate designations in the US and as a property manager, it is desirable to have one.
CIPS Real Estate Designation
So far, all of the designations we mentioned were primarily for US citizens.
People from outside the US borders can apply for those, but the prices and requirements are slightly different, which is something to have in mind.
We will now analyze the CIPS designation that proves to be great for the people abroad, but that doesn’t mean the US citizens aren’t able to obtain it.
Should I Get the CIPS Designation?
If you want to develop your real estate business and expand your knowledge and are either a professional or even a volunteer, you should pursue CIPS.
You will get specific marketing and technology boosts, such as CIPS resource browser toolbar or customizable print postcards.
Furthermore, participating in webinars will be allowed and you can contact the other CIPS members.
How Do I Get the CIPS Designation?
The requirements for US citizens are different from non-US citizens. Some things overlap, and those include:
- Membership in good standing in NAR.
- You will have to pass an exam with a minimum of 70% for non-US residents and 80% for US residents.
- Complete the courses/electives
- Pay all the fees and submit an application.
CIPS Designation Final Thoughts
Unlike some other designations we have listed so far, CIPS isn’t that expensive or difficult to acquire.
The Certified International Property Specialist annual fees include $220 for everyone, and even if it expires, you will be able to renew it at a relatively small cost.
CRB Real Estate Designation
CRB stands for Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager.
The word brokerage in the name of this designation tells us that it is something brokers should pursue in their careers.
However, this designation aims at business management, and therefore, owners, managers, supervisors can all apply and they are the ones to have the most significant advantage by gaining it. What else is there?
Should I Get the CRB Designation?
With this designation, professionals will educate themselves on how to increase their team’s productivity and performance.
Consequently, the revenues will sky-rocket. What speaks volumes about CRB is the fact that it has existed since 1968, and you truly become a part of the elite when you acquire it.
How Do I Get the CRB Designation?
Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t take a whole lot to become a CRB member. We listed the requirements below:
- You will need to complete three courses. You will have an option here – to do it online or in a classroom. Besides that, the course calendar and two electives are also a part of the deal.
- Although there isn’t any exam, you will need to complete a management resume and submit it together with a fee.
- One year of experience in management is required.
CRB Designation Final Thoughts
The CRB is among the best real estate designations for brokers as it provides a lot of value, and it isn’t as expensive as you would think.
You will be excluded from paying your annual due in the first year, but after that, it costs only $210 to maintain it. Therefore, if you are in this line of real estate, we suggest you better get started.
ALC Real Estate Designation
The final real estate designation we want to mention here is called the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).
Anyone dealing with land can acquire an ALC designation, but you will have to go through more than 100 hours of training.
Should I Get the ALC Designation?
This designation is pretty straightforward in terms of what you gain.
You will be able to connect with the other knowledgeable people with the ALC that can help you build a network and create new opportunities.
How Do I Get the ALC Designation?
Even though you get no special access to certain materials as is the case with some other designations we mentioned earlier, to earn ALC, you will have to complete a large number of courses.
These are the ALC Designation requirements:
- Three required courses account for 56 hours with some electives, which are 48 hours in length.
- To even apply, you will need to be a licensed real estate agent and work for two years in selling land. This is just one of the options.
You could also have at least three years in brokerage management, consulting, farm management, auction, leasing, or anything else related to land.
- After that, you need to score a minimum of 70% on your exam.
- This isn’t everything; membership in good standing with NAR is needed in addition to two recommendation letters.
ALC Designation Final Thoughts
For anyone dealing with land, this is a designation to go after.
The total costs are something in the middle. The courses account for approximately $1000, and you need to pay $100 for two exam attempts.
Once acquired, you will have to pay $445 per year for ALC maintenance.
So far, we’ve covered eight real estate designations, but what about the best real estate certifications? And now that we are here, we will briefly explain the difference between designations and certifications.
Designations are treated more like college degrees, and they are more challenging to obtain.
Applicants will usually have to go through a few months of studying, have experience and pay certain amounts of money before they even have a chance to pass the exam and receive their award.
Therefore, they are worth more the certifications, which, on the other hand, are more of a professional development proof.
With that out of the way, let’s start with certificates.
ATWD Real Estate Certification
ATWD stands for “At Home with Diversity.”
The United States of America is a culturally diverse country. Anyone in real estate has met people from different backgrounds.
If you want to improve your skills as a seller, you will have to get used to the ever-changing multicultural market.
Should I Get the ATWD Certification?
We’ve already summed up what this certification is all about, but some of the business benefits you will get are invaluable.
You will get familiar with the US fair housing laws better and acquire the right business etiquette.
Also, with this certification, you can gain some credit in case you need any of the designations, such as ABR or CIPS.
How Do I Get the ATWD Certification?
- It takes only one day to complete the course. The applicants have a chance to do so online or in the classroom.
- After that, you will need to pass the exam.
- The application fee costs $75, and you can submit it online.
- Membership in good standing in NAR.
ATWD Certification Final Thoughts
Acquiring this certification is something all realtors should think about.
Not so much for the showing off but more to gain the necessary knowledge regarding the multicultural element in real estate.
The business etiquette you can learn here is something that can hardly be acquired anywhere else.
Plus, if you think about it – you only need one day of work, and there you have it.
Smart Home Certification
Technology is changing the real estate industry and privacy issues are often talked about.
Moreover, the novelty on the market is smart homes, something that never existed before. Would you sell smart homes the same way you would sell traditional homes?
Should I Get the Smart Home Certification?
As a society, we will only move forward regarding tech, so now’s the right time to start.
If you want to reinvent yourself as a leader in a growing real estate niche, you should pursue Smart Home Certification.
The tech community will allow you to share information with your colleagues, plus it will get you one step closer to the CRS designation.
How Do I Get Smart Home Certification?
- You will have to complete a few courses accumulating for 12 hours. Also, there are some webinars, but each lasts 1-2 hours. You will not need more than two of these.
- A minimum score of 70% is required in the exam.
- Membership in good standing in NAR
Unlike some other certificates and designations, you don’t have to apply. The moment you finish the courses, you just need to email CRS to check and process them.
Smart Home Certification Final Thoughts
Once you earn this certification, you will have the edge over your competitors regarding the tech factor in the real estate industry.
With smart homes becoming more common throughout the US, this is one of the best real estate certifications.
Last but not least, there aren’t any annual dues, so once you have this certification, you will not have to renew it.
C-RETS Real Estate Certification
C-RETS stands for “Certified Real Estate Team Specialist.”
Once you are out there selling, you will quickly realize that it isn’t only about you. It is impossible to do it all, no matter how good you are.
Often, teamwork is required in your career, and you will need to be that team player that motivates everyone to become better, no matter whether you are a leader or not.
Should I Get the C-Rets Certification?
It becomes more and more challenging to be a team leader or just to be in a team.
More people want to be independent, but your finances to go up, you will need to dedicate yourself to a team cause.
C-RETS certification is all about team management and once you complete it, you will become a better agent and a better colleague.
Furthermore, it is a one-step forward towards the CRB designation.
How Do I Get the C-RETS Certification?
- Membership in good standing in NAR
- $159 Application fee
- You will have to complete three courses to gain C-RETS
- No Exam is required
C-RETS Certification Final Thoughts
The courses you will need to finish are pretty interesting, and you will benefit from them greatly.
With a small price, you can earn this certification and show everyone that you are a team player when necessary, but that you are also a leader in case they need one.
C-RETS is one of the best real estate certifications because it is simple to get – it doesn’t require any industry experience or enormous fees. All it takes is your will and some of your time.
RSPS Real Estate Certification
Moving on to the next certification in line…RSPS stands for “Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist.”
All of you who buy or sell second homes, recreational facilities, vacation destinations are more than welcome here.
For you, this is one of the best certifications you can find out in the market, and shortly, you will see why.
Should I Get the RSPS Certification?
You can show everyone what you do and that you are the expert they need, straight off the bat.
Furthermore, the certification grants access to newsletters, webinars with the topics in your niche networking groups, and referrals.
The US and non-US citizens can apply for RSPS, and there are only a few minimal differences, but below, we will talk about the US residents.
How Do I Get RSPS Certification?
- You will need to complete a course and you can do so online or in a classroom.
- Passing the exam with a minimum of 80% is a necessity.
- Membership in good standing with NAR.
- The application is filled out and submitted online. It costs $195.
RSPS Certification Final Thoughts
With some of the certifications being more general, not everyone from the real estate will go after this one.
Even so, you will learn some useful things regarding selling second homes primarily or vacation properties. If that is what you do, don’t hesitate to apply.
Earlier, we talked briefly about the impact technology has on real estate.
One huge chunk is social media and real estate agents can utilize it all across the country.
You can use your social media to promote your business and increase the number of sales you make. If you misuse it, it could do more harm than good, so keep on reading…
Should I Get Social Media Certification?
You are willing enough to learn about social media, but you can hardly find some concrete topics on the Internet that connect social networks to real estate businesses. This certification does it, and it’s a great starting point.
By setting up your social media profiles, you can distinguish yourself from others, spread your work area, and apply the proper strategies to sell more.
How Do I Get Social Media Certification?
- Four programs are accessible for you to complete, accounting for a total of 12 hours.
- Membership in good standing in NAR
- A minimum exam score of 70%
- No application is required – just send an email upon completion, and your request will be dealt with.
Social Media Certification Final Thoughts
With things moving online and people spending hours on social media, we suggest that every real estate agent completes these courses and get the certification at hand.
The beauty of it is that it follows the trends and you can stay up-to-date. Even if you don’t end up building your brand online, it cannot do any harm. There aren’t any annual dues to pay.
PSA Real Estate Certification
PSA stands for “Pricing Strategy Advisor Certification.”
When people want to buy homes, they often know very little about it.
They have a general idea of how it works, but one of the biggest misconceptions is home values and pricing.
That’s why you are here. And that is why you need a Pricing Strategy Advisor certification.
Should I Get the PSA Real Estate Certification?
Once you obtain PSA, you will have better pricing properties and create a comparative market analysis.
By showing the buyers that you know your way around estimating home values, pricing, and everything in between that, you will gain their trust.
Your vocabulary increases and you will use the right terminology. The other benefits include working with appraisers and learning ethics.
How Do I Get the PSA Real Estate Certification?
Again, the different process goes for the US and non-US residents, but these are nuances. For the US residents, read the following:
- You will have to complete a one-day class and you can do that online or in the classroom.
- Submitting the online application is necessary
- Membership in good standing with NAR
Real Estate PSA Certification Final Thoughts
PSA certification online courses cost $130, and the application fee is $179, but once you obtain PSA, you will not have to pay any annual fees.
As you have figured out by now, designations have their dues per year, while certifications, in a large majority of cases, do not.
As for PSA – every agent should know more about home values, money, and CMAs.
Once again, we are entering the digital sphere of real estate.
E-Pro is another certification that allows agents to learn more about digital marketing techniques they can use to reach customers and expand their business.
Should I Get the e-Pro Certification?
You can get yourself visible on the e-PRO website and the NAR website and people can find you in these searches.
Other than that, you can connect with the tech-savvy real estate industry agents scattered throughout the country.
Choosing any of the tech-related certifications is a great way to improve your skills and online behavior.
Each of these tackles with a specific niche online, so you can combine them to get a full picture.
How Do I Get the e-PRO Certification?
- A two-day course is available for you to complete online or in the classroom.
- Membership in good standing in NAR.
- You will need to pass an exam with a minimum of 75% to get the certification.
e-Pro Final Thoughts
e-PRO does give you a great insight into digital marketing and real estate.
The courses aren’t that cheap, though. The e-Pro Certification costs $219, while the application costs $149.
Even so, e-PRO is one of the high certifications in real estate.
MRP Real Estate Certification
Last but not least, we are going with something a bit different.
Military Relocation Professional certification or MRP is one of the best real estate certifications you can obtain this year, but what does it entail?
Should I Get the MRP Certification?
Any real estate agent who wants to work with military service members should get this certification.
As you know, housing laws are slightly different for military members and you can present various housing solutions to those who served their country once you get this certification.
It will get you familiar with the available benefits and advantages military personnel has, and you can use those to help them the best way possible.
Not only that, but you will see how different the processes of a military relocation are and learn more about VA financing.
This certification is also one of the electives for the ABR, so that is an excellent addition.
How Do I Get the MRP Certification?
- Besides the usual coursework that you will have to complete online or in the classroom, there are also two webinars that you should attend.
- The MRP certification exam minimum is 80%
- Membership in good standing in NAR
- Online application submission
MRP Certification Final Thoughts
The price for courses varies, whereas the application fee you need to pay is $195.
Many former military members are looking for their perfect home, and with this certification, you will be the one they can choose.
What’s great about it is that you don’t have to work with military personnel only, but it is always beneficial to have that opportunity.
Also, you will quickly realize that working with former military members and veterans can be quite enjoyable.
There’s a greater cause in helping those who are keeping the country safe.
Best Real Estate Designations for 2023 – Final Thoughts
This brings us to an end as we’ve listed the 16 best real estate certifications and designations in 2023 (eight of each).
Bear in mind that dozens of these exist throughout the country and we cannot cover them all here.
We’ve put forward those we believe are the best real estate designations and best certifications or you to upgrade your skills and career.
However, we would like to add that you should go after the other accolades as well.
You don’t need to stick to this list as if it is set in stone. On the contrary, it is advisable to chase after any designations and certifications that you think will propel your career.
It all comes down to where you want to go next. But now that you have all this information, you can easily choose a designation or certification suitable for you.
One last thing. What works best for most is the combination of working and studying.
In other words, you don’t want to rely too heavily on getting the best real estate designations and certificates, because you can learn a lot from being out there, selling homes.
They certainly can and do help advance your career but nothing beats real-world experience.
Set some time aside for studying, participate in courses and webinars, and look for new knowledge.
Finding that balance is the key to having a successful real estate career.
Click Here For a Full list of Real Estate Designations including pricing and sign-up links.
About The Author: This article was researched and published by Tim Schroeder. As a husband and wife real estate team residing in Florida, Tim Schroeder brings deep expertise with over 8 years of experience as a licensed real estate agent.
Deb and Tim Schroeder have earned numerous real estate industry awards and recognitions. They have been recognized by Orlando Magazine as a “Top 100 Real Estate Professional” as well as earned Top Producer Designations with the Orlando Realtor Association for 6 years straight.