Most are familiar with residential real estate, whether you’ve owned a home or shared in the joy of loved ones securing their piece of the American dream. But what is commercial real estate? What makes it different from residential? What does a career in the industry look like in 2019?

The commercial real estate industry involves the development, construction, leasing, and buying and selling of properties used for business purposes. Examples surround us every day: high-rise apartment buildings, office spaces of all shapes and sizes, hotels, strip malls, restaurants, and mixed-use developments that combine a little bit of everything. It’s literally and figuratively the foundation on which businesses are built.

Careers 2019 and beyond

Commercial real estate also has grown over the years to become a mainstream asset, deeply embedded in every investment structure including private equity portfolios, pensions, and retirement funds. With sophisticated investors come sophisticated financial and market analyses needed to sell these highly-desired assets. That’s commercial real estate in 2019.

The path to becoming a successful commercial real estate professional is as diverse as the industry itself. Whether you’re coming right out of college, transitioning from residential to commercial real estate, or beginning a second (or third) career, this thriving community spans all ages and professional backgrounds.

One thing they all have in common is an expertise in financial and market analysis and investment strategy, coupled with strong business development and negotiation skills. As with many industries, commercial real estate offers several professional designations recognized as marks of excellence. One such designation is CCIM, a certified commercial investment manager.

Professional designations in the industry

Issued by Chicago-based CCIM Institute, the CCIM designation program consists of more than 160 hours of case study-driven education covering topics such as interest-based negotiation, financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, investment analysis and ethics. Classes are taught by successful, well-established commercial real estate practitioners, who provide real-life examples of the latest trends and best practices.

The program culminates in candidates compiling a portfolio demonstrating the depth of their commercial real estate experience and passing a comprehensive examination. Many CCIMs remark how influential the designation has been on their careers.

“If not for CCIM, I would not have my real estate business today,” says Beverly Keith, CCIM, CRX, co-founder and principal, CPDG.

Commercial real estate is a dynamic, challenging, and rewarding career. The secret to enduring success is two-fold: 1) lay a solid foundation of skills and expertise to meet the needs of today’s sophisticated investor and 2) stay on the cutting edge of this fast-paced industry. Luckily, there are solid resources at your fingertips to help you achieve both.