One of the frequent questions we hear at Leveraged Breakdowns is whether there is a real estate private equity certification that will help distinguish applicants in a crowded applicant pool. There are a few certifications available, but they are aimed at validating the experience a person already has. Put another way, most certifications require documentation of relevant experience in order to receive certification. If you had enough experience to gain certification, you would be overqualified for an entry-level analyst position!
Don’t dismiss the thought altogether, though. Continuing education and certification can be a benefit to you long term, both in terms of skill development and in growing your professional network. There are a few options to consider. While neither of these options are a pure-play for real estate private equity, there is considerable overlap that could be beneficial to your career.
Certified Commercial Investment Manager (CCIM)
The CCIM Institute is a global leader in real estate education, and earning the CCIM pin is sometimes referred to as “the PhD of real estate.” There are over 10,000 CCIMs worldwide in more than 35 countries. Coursework includes investment analysis, financial analysis, ethics, user decision analysis, negotiation, and market analysis. The CCIM designation is awarded to those who successfully complete the coursework, pass the comprehensive exam, and submit a portfolio of relevant transaction experience. CCIMs enjoy shared online business tools and resources as well as networking opportunities.
Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
The Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association is the global authority in alternative investment education. The CAIA designation is an internationally recognized finance credential with a network of more than 10,000 alternative investment leaders in over 95 countries. Coursework is self-study and requires roughly 200 hours of study in preparation for each of the two qualifying exams. Passing the exams and documenting relevant industry experience are required to achieve the CAIA Charter.
It is important to note that while “alternative investments” includes more than just real estate (it also includes commodities, hedge funds, venture capital, tangible assets, and so on), this designation can be valuable in real estate private equity. Selling the various funds that a firm offers to advisors and investors can be enhanced by understanding the full range of alternative assets that are available.
University Certificate Programs
Many universities offer certificates in real estate, often as part of an MBA program. While these courses can be helpful in building your resume and general vocabulary, they lack the “real world” street-smarts of online REPE courses built by current industry professionals. There is often a gap between textbook learning and being mentored by professionals earning a living in that business today (for a good example of this, check out this article). University certificates (and MBAs) also cost a small fortune.
Don’t Worry About the Letters
Now that you understand that the real estate private equity certification that puts letters behind your name are reserved for industry veterans, don’t sweat trying to over-credential yourself. The key to landing that first REPE job is understanding and nailing the real estate private equity interview process (check out helpful articles here , here and here). Keep reading, keep practicing, and good luck!