How to Become an Appraiser: Step-by-Step Guide

Find out how to become an appraiser. Explore the job description, education and licensing requirements that can help you start a career in real estate appraisal.

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Should I Become an Appraiser?

Appraisers estimate the cost and value of commercial or residential real estate properties, assuring that the appraisal process complies with local, state and federal regulations. They also record and maintain documents regarding all appraisals and review market data to ensure that appraisals are as current as possible. Appraisers may have a general practice or specialize in either residential or commercial properties. Depending on the type of property being appraised and the place of employment, these professionals may spend most of their work hours on site visits or in the office. Some appraisers are self-employed and may need to work overtime to complete paperwork during evenings and weekends.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree is required; bachelor's degree needed for advanced positions
Degree Field Real estate, business, finance or related field
Licensure and Certification State license or certification required
Training On-the-job training and apprenticeships typically offered
Key Skills Problem-solving, organizational, analytical, time-management, customer service and math skills
Salary $52,570 per year (2014 median salary for all real estate appraisers and assessors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Enroll in an Associate's Degree Program

Some community colleges may offer a degree in real estate or real estate appraisal. Alternatively, an associate's degree in mathematics, engineering or marketing can provide a solid foundation for those who want to become an appraiser. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most residential real estate property appraisers need to have at least an associate's degree.

Step 2: Graduate with a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is typically needed to appraise more complex residential or commercial properties. Additionally, a bachelor's degree may be required to obtain a higher level of licensure in some states. Some states award licenses that limit the amount or complexity of transactions that appraisers may complete. Appraisers who hold a bachelor's degree may be allowed to obtain licenses that do not limit their transactions. Helpful baccalaureate coursework for aspiring appraisers include finance, business and real estate law, mathematics, economics, and computer science.

Step 3: Obtain Appraiser Education and Training

The National Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) requires aspiring appraisers to log a minimum number of hours of appraiser education or college courses and supervised training for licensing or certification. Supervising appraisers have to be certified as either a residential or general appraiser. The Appraisal Institute, an association of professional real estate appraisers, has information on appraiser schools and educational programs that meet USPAP standards.

Step 4: Get a License

Appraisers may earn a designation as a Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser or Certified General Real Property Appraiser. In addition, most states also have the classification of Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser. Each licensing designation has an exam that applicants must pass before certification is awarded. In addition, continuing education is necessary to maintain licensing or certification.

Success Tip:

  • Be flexible. According to the BLS, employment opportunities will be most plentiful for individuals who can appraise both residential and commercial properties. Earning a bachelor's degree and completing the required number of work hours to be certified for appraising all types of real estate can make one an attractive candidate for a larger pool of employers.
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