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Continuing Education for BIA Members
Educational Alphabet Soup
How to Earn a Professional Designation
CMB, CGB, CGR, CAPS, CGP, MIRM, etc. Just what do these letters mean, and how does one go about getting them after their name? In an effort to help our members understand the many professional designations available through our state and national associations, we offer this abbreviated explanation of the programs.
First, the short answer: to earn a professional designation you have to take classes toward the designation and earn credits. Once you get the specified amount of credits for the designation you’re seeking, you turn in the graduation forms and fee and then you are approved for the designation. It’s just that simple.
Designations for Builders, Remodelers and Associates
The Certified Master Builder (CMB) program is run through our State association and uses NAHB Education classes and some other qualified classes for credits. It currently takes only 20 credit hours to fill the education portion of the requirements. The rest is business and personal references and some other paperwork. This designation is available for HBA of SC Builder Members only. (If you’re a Builder Member with us, then you’re good to go.) More information on this program can be found at www.hbaofsc.com or by calling (803) 771-7408.
The Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), Remodeler (CGR) and Associate (CGA) programs are offered through NAHB Education. Classes are offered by NAHB at conventions and by state and local associations at various times and locations. If you're a Builder Member going for a CGB, you'll earn credits towards the CMB at the same time - and definitely enough to fill the credit requirements.
The first step towards the CGB is the Builder Assessment Review (BAR) exam. It's an assessment to figure out what you know and don't know, and what types and how many classes you'll need to take to get the CGB. Similarly, the Professional Remodeler Experience Profile (PREP) Test is the assessment for the CGR designation. Since they determine what you already know, there’s no studying required for these tests. Both the PREP Test and BAR exam are available on-line at some local testing centers. We do offer those as a written test from time to time, based on demand.
Once you get your results from the exam, you'll know which classes and how many you'll have to take to attain a CGB or CGR designation. It could be up to 8 classes, but generally around 4 or 5. Once you have this information, you'll then want to search for the classes you need at www.nahb.org. Whenever NAHB or an HBA/BIA schedules a class, they show up on the website. If you make a real effort at it, you can probably take all of your required classes in one year. But, if you wait for needed classes to be offered locally or in the state, it may take you a little longer.
For those of you who like to go all the way, there is a next level of designations after CGB and CGR. They are Graduate Master Builder (GMB) and Remodeler (GMR). A student has to take more classes above the initial CGB and CGR requirements to earn these designations.
On the way to your CGB, CGR or CGA, you may also qualify for other designations such as the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), which is building, remodeling and marketing for special needs folks and the elderly (3 required classes) or Certified Green Professional (CGP) which is about understanding green construction techniques and theory (2 required classes).
Of course, if you only want the CAPS and/or CGP, you can pursue them separately without going for the Certified Graduate designations.
One of the keystone classes in all of these designations is the Business Management for Building Professionals class. This is a requirement for the CAPS and CGP designation, and most people need it for the CGB, CGR and CGA as well. If you take classes before you take the BAR or PREP, they will normally still count toward your desired designation.
Designations for Real Estate Professionals
For our members who are involved in the sales and marketing of new homes, NAHB Education has some designations for you, too. They are Master in Residential Marketing (MIRM), Certified New Home Marketing Professional (CMP), and Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP). If you want to go to the next level, there’s the Master CSP designation.
In order to attain the MIRM designation, students must complete the four IRM courses and pass accompanying tests, earn 50 elective credits from courses offered by NAHB, have at least three years of new home sales and marketing experience, complete the IRM Professional Profile for MIRM candidates and last, but not least, write an approved marketing case study focusing on a new home community.
The CMP designation requires candidates to complete the four IRM courses and pass accompanying tests, earn 50 elective credits, have at least three years of new home sales and marketing experience, and complete the IRM Professional Profile for CMP Candidates.
For the CSP designation, the curriculum to apply is a 24-hour course and passing accompanying tests is also required. For the advanced MCSP (Master Certified New Home Sales Professional) designation, students must successfully complete three required courses, complete two courses or one designation from a specific list of electives, have at least three years of new home sales and marketing experience and also complete the IRM Professional Application/Profile for Master CSP Candidates.
Finishing Up and Getting the Designation
And finally, after you complete the courses for the designation you're going for, you have to apply for the designation. Forms will be sent to you from the certifying agency, either the State HBA or NAHB. Fill them out and return with the indicated Graduation Fee and you’ll then get the designation. Although the requirements and fees are different for each designation, all of them require continuing education and renewal fees if you wish to retain the designation after a certain period of time.
We hope that this quick overview of available professional designations was helpful to you. If you’re interested in pursuing any of these, more information is available at www.nahb.org or www.hbaofsc.org. Of course, you may contact your local HBA/BIA Staff for more information as well.
* This information could be out-of-date! Over time, rules and procedures change. We do our best to keep this article updated, but sometimes little things get by us. Please check the NAHB and HBA of SC links above for up-to-date information on designations.