Online Real Estate Certification Programs

Find out if an online certification program in real estate would be the right choice for you. Learn about certification options and benefits, professional organizations and program requirements. Schools offering Real Estate degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Is an Online Real Estate Certification Program Right for Me?

If you're a state-licensed real estate agent, developer or other real estate professional, or you are working towards becoming one, you may be wondering if you need to become certified, too. Unlike a real estate license, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports is mandatory in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., earning a real estate certification is optional. If you decide to obtain certification, it will serve as an additional professional designation on top of your required real estate license. You can get certified through one of several trade associations related to real estate. Some such organizations include professional associations, while others are related to specific areas of real estate, like development, building or education. All real estate organizations offer multiple professional designations; types and requirements are discussed in more detail below.

Online Availability Certification is available online through several trade associations
Certifying Organizations NAR, USGBC, ARELLO
Certification Requirements Requirements vary by certificate; common requirements include completing specific coursework and passing exams

What Types of Certification Are Available?

One organization through which you can pursue real estate certification of varying types is the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to its website, NAR is the biggest professional association in the world, with membership totaling more than 1.3 million. You can also obtain certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) or the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO). In virtually all cases, you can apply or prepare for these certifications entirely online. Below is a sampling of professional designations offered by the three of the above-mentioned organizations.

  • Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) professional credential
  • Accredited Buyer's Representative
  • Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager
  • NAR's Green Designation
  • Certified Residential Specialist
  • e-Pro

What Does an Online Real Estate Certification Program Entail?

Exact requirements to obtain the certifications listed above may differ widely from one certification to the next. Most professional online real estate certification programs require you to take one or several classes in the same subject area in which the certification is being granted. For example, to earn the Accredited Buyer's Representative certification, you need to take an elective course in an area like e-buying or real estate auctions. After completing your online course requirements, you generally have to take an exam to prove you've mastered the concepts taught in the course. Once you pass the exam, you're officially certified.

One notable exception to the certification process described in the preceding paragraph is that of the LEED certification program offered by the USGBC. This program grants certification to individual building projects, not to real estate professionals with the ability to construct green buildings. If you're a real estate builder or developer interested in getting your project certified, you can do so by submitting an online application to the USGBC website. An independent committee will review your application and if it passes, your real estate project is certified as a green building.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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