Only 6% of commercial real estate practitioners hold it: what does CCIM stand for?

How the pin changed my career…

Some of you may wonder what those four letters behind my name really mean. Well today, the veil shall be lifted as I tell you all about CCIM: what does CCIM stand for? Only 6% of the commercial real estate practitioners hold the CCIM designation. And given the choice, you do want to hire a commercial real estate broker with this designation.


What does CCIM stand for?

CCIM stands for Certified Commercial Investment Member, the CCIM designation is awarded by and conferred upon a candidate by the CCIM Institute. The CCIM Institute is an affiliate organization of the National Association of Realtors®. The CCIM designation is a professional designation that I’ve obtained to show that I have a proficiency and expertise in commercial real estate. According to the CCIM website “The CCIM lapel pin denotes that the wearer has completed advanced coursework in financial and market analysis, and demonstrated extensive experience in the commercial real estate industry. CCIM designees are recognized as leading experts in commercial investment real estate.”

How to get your CCIM?

The process to become a CCIM is actually quite rigorous. As the chair of Candidate Guidance for the North Carolina CCIM chapter, I assist candidate members seeking to obtain their designation (it is a side passion), so I am pretty familiar with the process. In order to become a CCIM, you must take four core courses. These four courses include:

  • Financial Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate (CI 101)
  • Market Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate (CI 102)
  • User Decision Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate (CI 103)
  • Investment Analysis for Commercial Investment Real Estate (CI 104)


Each core course ends in an examination which must be successfully passed. In addition to these four core courses, the education component includes negotiations training and an ethics course. Typically these classes take place in a traditional classroom environment, taught by seasoned commercial real estate practitioners. However, the classes are now offered in a blended learning environment (part online and part in class) along with online instructor-led and self-paced. Finally, there are two elective credits required which can be obtained in various manners.


Wow, that is a lot of education, drilled down specifically to commercial real estate. Why doesn’t the CCIM Institute just confer the designation to those that go through that? That is a good question. So, in addition to the education, you must be able to practice and apply what they taught you. This is called the portfolio of qualifying experience. Along with the education, you must prepare a portfolio that shows you have the commercial real estate experience.

The exam

What does CCIM stand for?

After completing both the education component and the portfolio of qualifying experience, you must then sit for the comprehensive exam. This is a grueling six-hour examination in which all of your knowledge and expertise is tested. Side note, if you are a current candidate reading this, always take CCR (Concepts Course Review), you can thank me later. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam, the CCIM designation is conferred.

Why I got the pin

So now that you know all about CCIM, let’s dive in a little deeper and share why I pursued it. In 2008, I decided to go commercial only. No more houses for me. It is not that I did not enjoy residential, it just wasn’t what I was passionate about. After all, as a Finance & Banking major at Appalachian State University, I like numbers. I know, they are not for everyone. I then heard about the CCIM designation from the broker that I was working for at the time. It was stated that if you are serious about a career in commercial real estate, then you must pursue and obtain the CCIM designation.

Elite company

As described, it was not easy and it took five years to complete. A smaller market means less transactional activity, plus there was an economic downturn during this time. However, it is one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of. You see, only 6% of commercial real estate practitioners hold the CCIM designation. It is elite, it is important. To those that know what it means, it carries weight, weight in the decision-making process, weight in ease of the transaction when working with other CCIM’s. I’m involved in our state chapter and formed a tight bond with my other CCIM brothers and sisters. I can attest that it has made a difference in my commercial real estate career.

The power of the pin

In closing, let’s go back to the beginning. Like I said, I chair the candidate guidance for our state chapter. As a CCIM designee, I strongly believe that there is no prouder moment as the one where you see a candidate receive their pin. On the right is a picture with some of the most recent candidates turned designees at our April CCIM Mid-Year meeting in Tampa, FL. I am proud to call these men and women fellow designees and encourage you, especially if you are new to the business, to seek out more information regarding the CCIM designation.


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