As a commercial real estate professional, the majority of your learning likely happens on the job through direct experience, or with colleagues and mentors.
But if you’re looking to continue your education and become a better broker, you might want to consider joining a professional organization or even taking a course or two. If you’re up for a challenge, then you can seek out a certification such as CCIM or SIOR.
To help you make the decision, we’ll take you through the pros and cons of professional associations and certifications—then help you evaluate some of your options.
Most professional organizations promise that members receive better access to cutting edge research, networking, and other educational resources that ultimately lead them to be more successful in their careers.
The CCIM website, for example, boasts that members on average “earn 79% more than non-affiliated professionals, according to a 2009 National Association of REALTORS® Commercial Member Profile.”
This benefit could come from increased access to networking opportunities, or, in the case of SIOR, exclusivity. SIOR boasts that only 3,164 CRE professionals hold their designation, meaning networking happens with the “best of the best.”
Aside from networking, most professional organizations promise members access to continuous educational opportunities. If you’re someone who would truly take advantage of the networking and learning resources, then a professional membership or certification might be for you.
The benefits offered by these organizations don’t come without a price.
And the more exclusive the organization, the more you can expect to pay.
SIOR’s annual dues are $1,345, after you pay the $175 application fee and $725 one-time initiation fee.
CCIM annual candidacy and designation are $650, but that doesn’t include courses if you’re applying for the first time. All in all, your certification and member dues will cost you upwards of $7,495.
NAIOP, another popular CRE organization offers tiered membership dues based on your career level.
On top of the price, membership in an esteemed organization may require a time commitment.
The CCIM designation requires completing four core courses, an online ethics course, and eight hours of negotiations training. Coursework can be tailored to your schedule, but still takes participants months or even years to complete.
The SIOR designation has even more rigorous requirements. Members must have a minimum of five years documented industry experience, and endorsements from two active individual members in their Chapter. To maintain membership, SIOR applicants must meet a minimum production level per year as measured by Gross Fee Income and complete required coursework.
Again, if you think the membership and designations will accelerate your career or increase your earning potential, it’s time well spent, but the tradeoffs should be considered critically.
Associations and certifications to consider
1. CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member)
Cost: $650 for candidacy and designation fees, courses run upwards of $1,365.
Requirements: Two years commercial real estate experience, four courses, online ethics, eight hours of negotiation training.
2. SIOR (Society of Industrial and Office Realtors)
Cost: $1,345 annual dues, $175 application fee, $725 one-time initiation fee.
Requirements: Five years commercial real estate experience. Endorsement from two active members in the applicant’s chapter, minimum production per year as measured by Gross Fee Income, online ethics course, commercial brokerage coursework, attendance at one world conference.
3. NAIOP (National Association of Industrial Parks)
Cost: Dependent on membership type. Estimate your dues here.
Requirements: Dependent on membership type.
4. Harvard Business School Real Estate Management Program: Finance, Design, and Leadership
Cost: The $12,500 program fee covers tuition, books, case materials, accommodations, and most meals. There is no application fee.
Requirements: Although there are no formal educational requirements, admission is a selective process based on professional achievement and organizational responsibility. They look for professionals who have demonstrated business talent and leadership potential.