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Top 11 Real Estate Accountant Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications for real estate accountants, including details on requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are important for real estate accountants in the job market because they demonstrate a high level of knowledge and expertise. Through certification, real estate accountants can demonstrate their commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and regulations. Certifications also provide potential employers with assurance that these professionals have obtained the necessary training and education to perform their duties competently. Finally, certifications give real estate accountants an edge over other job applicants who lack such credentials, making them more competitive in the job market.

This article reviews the top certifications for Real Estate Accountants and explains how they can help advance a real estate accountant's career.

What are Real Estate Accountant Certifications?

Real estate accountant certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in accounting for real estate transactions. This certification is typically offered by professional associations, such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). By obtaining this certification, individuals demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the specialized accounting practices related to real estate transactions.

Having a real estate accountant certification can help professionals stand out among other accountants, because it shows they have a comprehensive understanding of the specific accounting rules and regulations related to real estate transactions. It also provides assurance to potential clients that their financial records will be handled properly and accurately.

Furthermore, having a real estate accountant certification can provide opportunities for career advancement and greater job security. Professionals with this certification may be able to command higher salaries or find better positions than those without it. Additionally, having this credential can open up opportunities for networking with other professionals in the industry who share similar interests and skillsets.

In short, obtaining a real estate accountant certification is beneficial for anyone looking to specialize in or advance their career in the field of accounting for real estate transactions.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research and understand the requirements for real estate accountant certification before embarking on the process. There may be differences in requirements depending on the state or country in which you are seeking certification, so it is important to know what is required for your specific situation. Additionally, it is a good idea to become familiar with the different types of certifications available and find out if there are any specializations that might be beneficial for your career.

Related: What does a Real Estate Accountant do?

Top 11 Real Estate Accountant Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Real Estate Accountants today.

1. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional designation given to individuals who have met the education, experience, and examination requirements set by their respective state boards of accountancy. CPAs are licensed by the state in which they practice to provide accounting services to the public. In order to become a CPA, individuals must meet certain educational requirements, pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and fulfill any other requirements set by their state board of accountancy.

The amount of time it takes to become a CPA varies depending on the individual’s educational background and experience. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two to five years for someone to complete all of the necessary steps in order to become a CPA.

In order to become a CPA, an individual must first meet certain educational requirements. This typically includes completing 150 semester hours of college-level coursework at an accredited college or university with at least 24 semester hours in accounting-related subjects such as financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting.

After meeting these educational requirements, individuals must then pass the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the AICPA. The exam consists of four sections: Auditing & Attestation; Financial Accounting & Reporting; Regulation; and Business Environment & Concepts. The exam is taken over two days and is divided into two parts: Day 1 consists of three sections that test knowledge in auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting regulation; while Day 2 consists of one section that tests knowledge in business environment and concepts.

Once an individual has passed all four sections of the exam they will need to fulfill any additional licensing requirements set by their respective state board of accountancy in order to be officially certified as a CPA. These requirements may include passing an ethics exam or completing continuing education courses each year in order to maintain their license.

The cost for becoming a CPA varies depending on where you live, but generally speaking it can range from $1,000-$2,500 for application fees alone not including tuition costs for additional coursework or study materials needed for preparation for the exam itself.

2. Certified Real Estate Accountant (CREA)

Certified Real Estate Accountant (CREA) is a professional designation offered by the Institute of Certified Real Estate Accountants (ICREA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of real estate accounting. The certification requires passing an exam that tests knowledge and experience in the areas of financial reporting, taxation, management, and other related topics.

It typically takes about six months to complete the CREA certification process. During this time, applicants must complete an online application form, submit documentation verifying their education and work experience, and pass a comprehensive examination. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate their commitment to professional development through continuing education courses or seminars.

The cost of obtaining the CREA certification varies depending on where you live and how much preparation you need for the exam. Generally speaking, it costs between $500 and $1,000 USD to become certified. This includes fees for the application form, examination registration fees, and any additional materials needed for study.

Once certified, CREAs are expected to adhere to ICREA's Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct which outlines standards for ethical behavior in all aspects of their work as real estate accountants. They are also required to maintain their certification by completing continuing education credits every two years.

3. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional designation awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board). CFPs are financial professionals who specialize in providing comprehensive financial planning services to individuals and families. The CFP designation is considered one of the highest standards of excellence in the personal financial planning industry.

In order to become a CFP, an individual must complete certain educational requirements, pass an exam administered by the CFP Board, and meet certain experience requirements. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; completed a course of study at a program registered with the CFP Board; and passed the CFP Certification Examination.

The exam consists of two parts: a three-hour multiple-choice section and a four-hour case study section. The total cost to take both parts of the exam is $695. After passing the exam, applicants must also complete at least three years of full-time work experience in personal financial planning before they can apply for certification as a CFP professional.

Once all requirements have been met, applicants must submit an application to the CFP Board for review and approval before they can officially use the designation “Certified Financial Planner” or “CFP” after their name.

4. Accredited Real Estate Professional (AREP)

Accredited Real Estate Professional (AREP) is a professional designation awarded to real estate professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field. AREP certification is granted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) after an individual has met certain educational, experience, and ethical requirements.

It typically takes about six months for an individual to complete the process of obtaining AREP certification. To become certified, individuals must first meet NAR's prerequisites, which include having a current real estate license, completing at least three years of full-time real estate experience within the past five years, and passing a background check.

Once these prerequisites are met, individuals must then pass the AREP Exam. The exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay section. The multiple-choice section covers topics such as real estate law, finance, marketing, contracts, and ethics. The essay section requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge in one or more areas related to real estate practice.

The cost for taking the AREP Exam varies depending on location; however, it typically ranges from $100-$250 USD. Additionally, applicants may need to pay additional fees for study materials or other resources they use while preparing for the exam.

Once an applicant successfully passes both sections of the exam and meets all other requirements for certification, they will be awarded their AREP designation from NAR. This designation allows them to demonstrate their expertise in real estate practice and can help them stand out among other agents in their market area.

5. Certified Property Manager (CPM)

Certified Property Manager (CPM) is a professional designation offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). It is a mark of excellence in the real estate management industry, and it signifies that an individual has achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in all aspects of property management.

To become a CPM, an individual must have at least three years of experience in the field, pass a comprehensive exam, and complete IREM’s CPM Candidate Program. The program consists of eight courses covering topics such as financial analysis, leasing, marketing and maintenance. The courses must be completed within two years.

The cost to become a CPM varies depending on the number of courses taken and whether or not you are already an IREM member. Generally speaking, it will cost around $2,000-$3,000 for non-members to complete the program.

Once you have completed the program and passed the exam, you will receive your CPM designation. You will also need to renew your certification every three years by completing continuing education requirements.

6. Certified Real Estate Appraiser (CREA)

A Certified Real Estate Appraiser (CREA) is a professional designation that recognizes the highest level of proficiency in real estate appraisal. It is awarded by the Appraisal Institute, which is the leading professional association for appraisers in North America. The CREA designation requires a minimum of three years of full-time experience as a real estate appraiser and successful completion of an intensive examination process.

To become a CREA, you must first meet the eligibility requirements set out by the Appraisal Institute. These include having a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited college or university; two years of full-time experience as a real estate appraiser; and successful completion of all required courses and examinations. Once these requirements are met, applicants must submit an application to the Appraisal Institute for review and approval.

The cost to obtain the CREA designation varies depending on your current status with the Appraisal Institute. If you are already an associate member, then you will need to pay $1,150 for your application fee and exam fees. If you are not currently an associate member, then you will need to pay $1,400 for your application fee and exam fees plus additional membership fees.

Once approved, it typically takes about four months to complete all coursework and exams required for certification. After completing all requirements, applicants must pass both a written exam and an oral exam before they can be awarded their CREA designation.

7. Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) is a professional designation awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The CGMA designation recognizes professionals who have achieved mastery in finance, accounting, strategy, operations, and management.

It typically takes three to five years to become a CGMA. This includes completing two parts of the AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination, passing the CIMA Professional Qualification exams, and meeting experience requirements.

To become a CGMA, you must first pass the two parts of the AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination. After that, you must pass all nine CIMA Professional Qualification exams within five years. You also need to meet experience requirements as set out by AICPA and CIMA.

The cost to become a CGMA varies depending on your location and other factors. Generally speaking, it can range from $2,000 - $10,000 USD for tuition fees alone. This does not include exam fees or any additional costs related to studying for the exams or gaining work experience.

8. Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB)

Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB) is a professional designation offered by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI). The CRB designation is designed to recognize real estate professionals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the areas of brokerage management, business planning, risk management, and financial analysis.

The CRB program requires applicants to complete three courses: Real Estate Brokerage Management, Business Planning & Risk Management, and Financial Analysis & Valuation. These courses are offered online or in-person through REBI. The entire program takes approximately 120 hours to complete.

In order to be eligible for the CRB designation, applicants must have at least five years of managerial experience in the real estate industry as well as a valid real estate license.

The cost for the CRB program varies depending on how you choose to take it. If you choose to take all three courses online, it will cost $1,395. If you choose to take them in-person, it will cost $2,195. Additionally, there is an application fee of $250 that must be paid when applying for the designation.

9. Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)

Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) is a professional designation offered by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). It is designed to recognize real estate professionals who specialize in international real estate transactions and have the knowledge and experience to provide clients with the highest level of service.

The CIPS designation requires completion of five full-day courses, which cover topics such as global trends, cross-cultural relationships, regional market conditions, legal issues, investment analysis and financing. The courses are offered at various locations throughout the year.

In order to qualify for the CIPS designation, an individual must be a member of NAR and have completed at least three transactions involving international clients or customers within the last five years. Additionally, applicants must pass a comprehensive examination covering all aspects of international real estate transactions.

It typically takes approximately six months to complete all five courses and take the exam in order to receive the CIPS designation. The cost for each course ranges from $425-$650 depending on location and includes materials and lunch. There is also an application fee of $150 that must be paid when applying for the CIPS designation.

10. Accredited Residential Manager (ARM)

Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) is a professional designation offered by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). This designation recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and proficiency in managing residential properties. The ARM designation is designed to demonstrate excellence in the field of residential property management and to give property owners, investors, and other stakeholders confidence that their property manager has achieved a high level of competency.

To obtain the ARM designation, an individual must complete an application process which includes passing a written exam. The exam covers topics such as financial management, legal issues, tenant relations, maintenance and operations, marketing, and risk management. In addition to passing the exam, applicants must also have at least two years of experience in residential property management or a related field.

The cost for taking the ARM exam varies depending on your IREM membership status but typically ranges from $250-$500 USD. It typically takes about three months to complete the application process and take the exam.

11. National Association of Realtors® Green Designation

The National Association of Realtors® Green Designation is a professional credential that recognizes real estate professionals who have completed advanced training in green building and sustainable business practices. The designation requires completion of an 18-hour course, which covers topics such as green building principles, energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, resource conservation and renewable energy sources.

To obtain the Green Designation, real estate professionals must complete the 18-hour course and pass an exam with a score of 75% or higher. The course can be completed online or in person through one of NAR’s approved providers. It typically takes between two to four weeks to complete the course depending on the individual’s availability and learning style.

The cost for the Green Designation varies by provider but typically ranges from $400-$600 USD. Once the credential is earned, there are no additional fees or dues associated with maintaining it; however, continuing education credits must be obtained every two years to remain certified.

Do You Really Need a Real Estate Accountant Certificate?

Yes, a real estate accountant certificate is essential for anyone considering a career in this field. Real estate accounting is a complex and highly regulated area of finance, and it requires specialized knowledge to be successful. A real estate accountant certificate provides the necessary training and expertise to ensure that all financial transactions are managed properly and in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.

Having a real estate accountant certificate demonstrates to potential employers that you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to do the job correctly. It also shows that you understand the complexities involved in managing real estate finances. Additionally, having a certificate can make you more competitive when applying for jobs as it will give employers confidence that you are qualified to handle their financial matters.

A real estate accountant certificate also allows you to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the industry, such as changes in tax laws or other regulations that could impact your clients’ investments. This ensures that your clients receive accurate advice when making decisions about their finances. Furthermore, having a certification can help you build relationships with clients by demonstrating your commitment to meeting their needs.

In summary, obtaining a real estate accountant certificate is an important step for anyone wishing to pursue a career in this field. It provides the necessary training and qualifications needed to manage real estate finances successfully while demonstrating commitment and competence to potential employers.

Related: Real Estate Accountant Resume Examples

FAQs About Real Estate Accountant Certifications

FAQ 1: What is a real estate accountant certification?

Answer: A real estate accountant certification is a credential that demonstrates specialized knowledge and skills in accounting related to the real estate industry. It is usually obtained through a professional organization such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the Institute of Real Estate Management.

FAQ 2: What are the benefits of becoming a certified real estate accountant?

Answer: Becoming a certified real estate accountant can bring many benefits, including increased job opportunities, higher salaries, and greater credibility among clients and employers. Additionally, it can provide an enhanced understanding of the financial aspects of real estate transactions which may help in making better decisions for your business.

FAQ 3: What qualifications do I need to become a certified real estate accountant?

Answer: In order to become a certified real estate accountant, you must have at least four years of experience in accounting related to the real estate industry and have passed an accredited certification exam. Additionally, you will need to meet any other requirements set by the organization offering the certification.

FAQ 4: How long does it take to get my real estate accountant certification?

Answer: The length of time required to obtain your certification depends on several factors including your experience level and how quickly you complete any necessary coursework or exams. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months up to two years or more depending on these factors.

FAQ 5: Is there any continuing education required for maintaining my certification?

Answer: Yes, most organizations require that certified professionals maintain their credentials by completing periodic continuing education courses or exams. This ensures that they stay up-to-date with changes in regulations and standards within the field of accounting related to the real estate industry.