Quick Guide to Earning an IREM Credential

    There comes a point in everyone’s career where you ask yourself, “How do I get to the next level?” Sometimes there’s more than one answer to this question, but when it comes to a career in property management there’s one way that stands out; earning an IREM designation.

    The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) designations are trusted throughout the industry and earned through experience and education. These are the keys to setting yourself apart from the pack. For the purposed of this blog, I’m going to discuss our most globally recognized credential, the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation. The CPM designation can demonstrate your expertise and integrity to those who matter most—employers, owners and investors. Through a series of expertly designed classes, you will become an authority on all aspects of real estate management from budgeting to marketing and leasing. To learn more about this designation, visit the membership section of our website here.

    Once you’ve determined the CPM designation is the right “next step” in your career, how do you get started? I’ve heard on more than one occasion the journey towards earning this credential can be as frustratingly confusing as it is rewarding. So we’re here to lay out some simple steps to get you started on the right path towards your designation.

    Step One: Where are you at?

    There is no minimum or maximum amount of time allotted to earn this credential which allows you a very personalized timeline for this journey. When you’re ready to get started, ask yourself two questions: how fast do you want to earn your CPM and how much prior experience do you have?

    If you’re ready to be aggressive about earning this credential and feel you have time, monetary, and scheduling resources to complete the course requirements within 12 months (this is rare but possible), I would encourage you to join IREM as a CPM Candidate to begin attending classes. Being a CPM Candidate for one year is a requirement for earning this designation and you don’t want to find yourself working so hard to finish your classes quickly just to be held back by this requirement. On the other hand, if you feel your journey may be more moderately paced (2-3 years like most) I would encourage you to join IREM as an Associate Member. This is a more economical membership price point, but you still receive all of the benefits of our higher membership levels. Then once you’re within a year’s time of completing your coursework, you can upgrade your membership to CPM Candidate.

    Now for the second question of experience. There are three alternative ways to earn this designation beyond completing IREM classes. If you hold a CCIM, CFM, CSM, PCAM, RPA, or SIOR you would be eligible for our “Other Designation” fast track option. If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree with a major, minor or concentration in real estate or property management you qualify for our “Real Estate Degree” fast track option. Lastly, if you have 20 years of qualifying professional experience (as verified via experience reports and approved by the chapter) you may qualify for our “Professional Experience” fast track option. If any of these three options apply to you, you’ll want to complete the CPM Fast Track form.

    Step Two: Sharpen Your Pencil

    Most people will need to complete the eight IREM courses required to earn the CPM credential. You can find a breakdown of these classes here. IREM Houston offers each required course once a year locally, but you can take these courses at any chapter across the nation. All courses (minus the Ethics Course) are also offered online. While we encourage you to take the courses in person to get the best hands-on learning available, online learning is an option for those who have a busier schedule and thrive in an online learning environment. When you’ve completed all eight courses, you’re ready to take the “final” or as we call it the Management Plan Skills Assessment (MPSA) and CPM Exam. The MPSA is an evaluation occurring over the course of four days which includes an exam component that requires responses to management scenarios based on a mock property you are given. The CPM Exam is a 150 question multiple choice test.

    Step Three: The Final Things

    Nothing worth having comes easy as they say and the CPM credential is no difference. Once you’ve completed the required coursework and passed the MPSA and CPM Exam (congratulations!) you will be ready for the finishing touches needed to earn your designation. To ensure IREM is certifying on the highest level of professionals, IREM also requires the following:

    • Submit 3 Confidential Letters of Recommendation
    • 3 years (36 months) of qualifying real estate management experience as defined by IREM
    • Be a CPM Candidate member in good standing for one year or more
    • Submit a CPM application
    • Be current with annual national and chapter dues
    • Attend two IREM Chapter meetings or events during the 12 months immediately prior to CPM approval
    • Be interviewed and approved by your IREM Chapter


    Step Four: Move on Up

    Once you become a Certified Property Manager, the sky is the limit for your career. Many of our members report an increase in owner and tenant confidence in their management abilities just with the addition of these three letters on their business card. Some even directly credit the CPM designation to salary increases, expansions of portfolios, and promotions. Those who earn this prestigious designation become part of an elite international group of real estate professionals who have proven they have the skills, knowledge and drive to manage a property like a pro.


    About the Author: Lindsay Konlande currently serves as the Association Assistant for IREM Houston. Lindsay earned her Bachelor Degree in Communication from Texas A&M and has several years of experience in marketing, public relations and copywriting.

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