Certified Abstractor: Job Description & Education Requirements

Certified abstractors require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Certified abstractors can enter this field with a high school diploma or GED. Although they are not necessarily required to have formal postsecondary education, most certified abstractors complete some vocational training, and they must be licensed by the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors. Studies in business law and real estate law are an asset to professionals in this field.

Essential Information

Certified abstractors are title examiners who have received licensure by the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors (NALTEA). These abstractors are required to follow the guidelines of their association and maintain certification. Certification requires that abstractors have a minimum of work experience and pass a test; continuing education is required for recertification.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Certification Work experience and testing required for certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -0.3% for title examiners, abstractors and searchers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $44,370 for title examiners, abstractors and searchers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of Certified Abstractors

Certified abstractors research real estate records and examine titles to provide legal support when determining the historical ownership of properties. These men and women assist in the sale and purchase of properties based on local, state, and national laws. Much of their work consists of researching land- and property-related documents for registration, restrictions and legal descriptions. Many certified abstractors work in or with law firms, insurance companies or real estate agencies.

Duties of Certified Abstractors

Certified abstractors are held to a higher standard than abstractors or title examiners, as the latter two are not ruled by the guidelines of the certifying agency, the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors (NALTEA). According to NALTEA guidelines and responsibilities, certified abstractors must provide thorough searches of public records and keep detailed notes on these searches in accordance with a client's wishes. They also inform their clients what they have provided and failed to provide in their work. Finally, certified abstractors must remain up to date on legal statues and title law in the regions in which they work.

All abstractors harness the critical and analytical thinking necessary to research public and real estate records. In addition, abstractors, both certified and not, must be able to ensure confidentiality in their work.

Education Requirements for Certified Abstractors

According to O*Net, while only 2% of abstractors have a bachelor's degree, most have completed vocational training at a community college, an apprenticeship or similar on-the-job training. Those interested in the field may consider taking college courses in real estate law, business law and documentation.

Abstractors wanting to become certified abstractors are required to complete the NALTEA examination with a grade of 75 or higher. In order to maintain the designation, certified abstractors must take 10 hours of continuing education through NALTEA or NALTEA-accepted courses every two years.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that there would be little to no change in employment numbers for title examiners, abstractors and searchers from 2014 to 2024. The BLS published a median annual salary of $44,370 for these professionals in 2015.

Certified abstractors search public records, provide a detailed account of the information they discover in their search and inform the clients about what they found and what information they may not have been able to locate. They must follow the requirements of the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors and be aware of current title law where they work. They are hired to search records to determine who owns properties and to identify prior owners at the requests of their clients.

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools