Successful REALTORS® are constantly increasing their skills

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

One thing that goes hand-in-hand with being a successful REALTOR® is a commitment to continuing education. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has designed this month for designations and certifications awareness. The worth of designations, certifications, and continuing education are illustrated by the success of those who take advantage of specialized skills. 


A NAR membership survey found that the median income of REALTORS® with at least one designation was a little better than 45 percent higher than an agent with no designations. 

According to that survey, a little more than 39 percent of members nationwide hold at least one certification. In addition to certifications, 36 percent have at least one professional designation.  It’s likely that the post-pandemic numbers are higher. They’re higher because the ever-evolving real estate industry requires new skills. It’s becoming more specialized, and members are targeting special skill sets that conform to what’s happening in their home markets and the overall industry.  

For example, the most popular certification was Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource® (SFR) during the Great Recession. That interest was market-driven by the elevated number of distressed homes on the market.   

Another popular skill set was the e-Pro®. It has become a staple since online marketing and digital services have become dominant. And advances in technology are still coming at dazzling speed.  

Those are just two examples of how REALTORS® manage their career focus with continuing education. They do that to enhance their clients’ expertise and keep up with the ever-change real estate industry.  

A recent Investopedia report listed seven top designations for 2021 based on the benefits of the designation and potential impact on a career. They included: 

  • Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) 
  • Seller Representative Specialist (SAR®) 
  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) 
  • Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB®) 
  • Certified Resident Specialist (CRS®) 
  • Military Relocation Professional (MRP®) 
  • Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR®) 

That’s a small subset of the 29 designations available. The most common is Certificated Residential Specialist  CRS®.  So, there are ample options and opportunities based on local market conditions or where individuals want to focus their careers. 

The difference between a certification and designation is that certifications are earned by continuing education and a one-time certification fee. Designations are linked to issuing bodies that REALTORS® pay dues to after they’ve met the organizations’ education requirements.  

If you look at the acronyms behind a REALTORS’® name on their business card or in their biography on their Web site, you can tell what special skills they have earned and which organizations they are vested with. You’ll probably need a crib sheet to understand what the acronyms mean. That can be found by pointing your Web browser to It’s a useful tool that increasing numbers of savvy buyers and sellers use to ensure they partner with a REALTOR® who has special skills in an area that will work best with their clients’ real estate needs and goals.  

There are also seminars and classes that don’t result in a certification or designation but keep REALTORS® up to date on the constantly changing laws, practices, forms, and trends in real estate.  NETAR’S Education Blitz is a prime example. Many of those sessions were things members suggested as something that would be helpful to the career challenges they faced. 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,500 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at