Are you looking for ways to earn more money in an economy and legislative climate that definitely does favor a mortgage broker and loan originator? I am “old school” and learned quickly, 32 years ago, that referrals and reputation was the key to my success or failure. Moving through various positions and companies in my background, as with many I think, it became clear that education was and still is a key component to becoming a true trusted professional. As I heard about and learned what certification was, I spoke to many people whether it really made a difference. The answer was always a resounding yes! Bill Howe, CMC, CRMS, spoke of the many referrals and consumer confidence as he taught the first workshop I attended several years ago. Ginny Ferguson, CMC, spoke of specific borrowers who chose her over others in her area because of her designation. I made the decision to become certified, but thought one would be enough. Working up the courage and time at the height of the mortgage boom seemed crazy, but I was committed to getting it done. I realized in speaking with others that is one of the hardest parts to obtaining a certification … time and procrastination (plus a small amount of fear.) Yes fear. We are a highly competitive breed and the fear of possibly failing was not something I looked forward to even with many years experience. Making a public announcement to my office and family about my goal was the best thing I did. I was constantly asked had I taken the test yet, when was I going to do it. I ended up taking the Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist (CRMS) exam, and than less than three weeks later, the Certified Mortgage Consultant (CMC) exam. Looking back, I would not have done it any other way. I have personally had referrals directly from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Web site where borrowers looked for someone in Michigan and chose me “Because I had more initials behind my name, I must have more knowledge.” I have had many other NAMB colleagues refer borrowers because of my certifications. I very recently sent a referral to someone in San Jose because he was the only one with a certification. It does make a difference in how you are perceived, but more importantly, how you feel about yourself. Take the challenge to obtain more than one. The next step to more referrals and commitment to yourself and our industry is to become certified today. Contact any certified mortgage professional and we will gladly assist you. Pava J. Leyrer, CMC, CRMS, CMP is president and owner of Heritage National Mortgage Corporation in Grandville, Mich., and Certifications Committee chair for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. She may be reached by phone at (616) 534-4993.