What is a Certified Marketing Research Professional and How Did I Obtain The CMRP Designation?

I am a member of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) and like many industry associations it offers a professional certification for market researchers. I pursued this certification in order to further exhibit my personal dedication to the market research industry as well as my knowledge and capabilities. However, to obtain the Certified Marketing Research Professional designation (CMRP) I not only had to qualify for and challenge the 8-hour long Comprehensive Marketing Research Exam (CMRE), but I also had to receive a passing grade. Below is a summary of what you need to know in order to achieve the CMRP designation.

According to the MRIA, the CMRP was introduced to further MRIA’s goal of raising the level of professionalism within the market(ing) research industry:

“Obtaining the CMRP designation signifies a high level of knowledge and capability in marketing research theory and practice, and adherence to rigorous ethical standards set out in MRIA’s Code of Conduct and Good Practice.” – MRIA

Here are three reasons that the MRIA provides on its website as to why someone should strive for the CMRP designation:

1. Confirm your broad competency and mastery of theoretical and practical knowledge required to maximize value to your organization and clients;
2. Better position yourself for career advancement and greater earning power;
3. Demonstrate your commitment to continued professional development and to upholding the highest level of professional ethical standards.

Note: The only way currently to be awarded the CMRP designation is to pass the Comprehensive Marketing Research Exam (CMRE), but several hundred MRIA members were awarded the CMRP through a “Grandparenting Process” up until January 2006, which was about 2 years before my market research career began.

The CMRE is a challenging full-day exam that requires quick recall of all the core concepts of marketing research.  The exam consists of two parts of 3.5 hours each, with 65% being a passing mark for each part. The first part is a proposal writing exercise and the second part contains comprehensive, single subject, and multiple subject questions. The CMRE is a closed-book exam, meaning that no reference materials are permitted in the exam room.

The following are considered “Core Skill Requirements” for the CMRE and are outlined in more detail in the Competency Requirements document that is available on the MRIA website:

– Application of Core Knowledge
– Identification of Issues
– Analysis
– Integration
– Professional Judgement
– Responding to Users’ Needs
– Effective Communication

The following are the “Six Subject Areas” covered in the CMRE, which are also outlined in more detail in the Competency Requirement document:

– Professional Practice
– Marketing research Design
– Statistical Methods for Marketing Research
– Questionnaire Design
– Qualitative Marketing Research
– Market Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence
– Marketing Management

Anyone who wants to write the CMRE must be a regular MRIA member in good standing. Currently there are  two paths to become qualified to write the CMRE, which are the following:

1. Complete the MRIA Certification Program (Includes 12 Core courses)
– Possess a university degree from a recognized university.
– Complete the MRIA’s Institute for Professional Development 12 Core courses or equivalent.
– Have a minimum of two (2) years of marketing research work experience.

2. Challenge the exam (write the CMRE without completing the 12 Core courses)
– Have successfully completed the MRIA Core Course “102-Ethical Issues and Privacy in Marketing Research”.
– For candidates holding a university degree from a recognized university: Have a minimum of eight (8) years of work experience at a professional level in the marketing research and intelligence industry at the time of application.
– For candidates without a university degree from a recognized university: Have a minimum of twelve (12) years of work experience at a professional level in the marketing research and intelligence industry at the time of application.

The following are the equivalents that the MRIA accepts:
1. Graduates of the following programs are not required to take any of the MRIA Core courses and are fully qualified to write the CMRE, provided they possess a university degree from a recognized university and at least two (2) years of marketing research work experience:
– Georgian College, Research Analyst Program (This is the one I graduated from) or Algonquin College, Marketing and Business Intelligence Research Program
2. Graduates of the University of Georgia (Marketing Research Institute International) Principles of Marketing Research course are qualified to write the CMRE provided they possess a university degree from a recognized university, have at least two (2) years of marketing research work experience and have completed the MRIA Core course “102-Ethical Issues and Privacy in Marketing Research”
3. Other university, college and professional development courses will be assessed on a case by case basis.

The following are the 12 Core Courses required as of 2011-2012:

101-Introduction to Marketing Research
102-Ethical Issues and Privacy in Marketing Research
201-Marketing Research Design: An Applied Course
202-Questionnaire Design
203-Marketing Research Statistics & Data Analysis
204-Qualitative Marketing Research
301-Competitive Intelligence, Competitor Benchmarking and Mystery Shopping
302-Market Intelligence
303-Marketing Management for Researchers
401-Online Research, Best Practices and Innovations
402-Advanced Analysis Techniques
403-Advanced Qualitative Marketing Research Techniques

The MRIA adopted one textbook, titled Modern Marketing Research Step-by-Step by Chuck Chakrapani and Ken Deal, that can be used for seven of the MRIA Core courses as well as the Comprehensive Marketing Research Exam (CMRE). The text can be accessed online completely free of charge.

Note: Currently tests for Core courses are completed online, but the CMRE is offered several times a year across Canada.

Several weeks before I wrote the CMRE, I attended the CMRE Prep Workshop instructed by the previous Research Analyst Post-graduate Program coordinator, Robert A. G. Wong, MA, MCIP, CMRP, FMRIA.

“The CMRE Prep Workshop is a comprehensive 2-day workshop designed to briefly cover the key topics in marketing research and is specifically designed to help registrants to prepare for MRIA’s Comprehensive Marketing Research Exam (CMRE). At this point in your career you are most likely familiar with the concepts and an expert at some of them, but perhaps you have not written an exam in awhile, or perhaps you never really did understand weighting and now trust your stats department to do it. This course will help provide a refresher of all the key concepts and help those get back into “exam” mode.” – MRIA

The following are the major topics covered in the Prep Workshop:

– Examination preparation: writing and time management techniques
– Review of quantitative and qualitative methods
– How to interpret, assess and rationalize a case study
– Review of sampling: population, sample frame, sample size, sampling procedures, case study
– Proposal writing: proposal development exercise and peer critique
– Review of Rules of Conduct and Standards: critical areas and case studies
– Peek at qualitative research: codes of practice for recruiting, when to use, opportunities and limitations
– Review of questionnaire design: questions types, use of attitudinal scales, question wording errors, monitoring, response rates, case study
– Marketing management: marketing terminology and role of marketing research
– Review of analysis: tab plans, analyzing tables, interpretation of inferential statistics, applying statistical tests bivariate, case study and peer critique
– Other resources to prepare for the CMRE

Overall the process of applying, studying, writing, and passing the exam was a great opportunity to review all that the MRIA has done for the market research industry in Canada, but also to better understand the criticisms surrounding the certification process. If you have any questions regarding the CMRP please feel free to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn or just simply leave a comment below.



Sean Copeland is a certified marketing research professional (CMRP) known for his broad knowledge of the research workflow, his disruptive approach to problem solving and for building strong client relationships. In over 5 years Sean has developed, sold, executed, and managed hundreds of consumer research studies using a variety of new and traditional research methodologies.

Contact Sean Copeland:

T: 647-269-5085

E: sean@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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