Assessors are typically required by their respective states to complete short-term training courses. Other formal education requirements for the field may not apply in all cases, though many assessors hold bachelor's degrees.
For that reason, aspiring tax assessors may consider pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting, or Economics. Applicants to these programs should have a high school diploma or equivalent, and background in subjects that require analysis, research, writing, and communication skills.
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Business training programs typically integrate aspects of accounting, finance, and economics. Programs may include the following topics:
- Real estate
- Property taxation
- Estate laws and regulations
Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Accounting majors often take classes related to tax assessment including the following commonly offered courses:
- Business law
- Applied economics
- Advanced mathematics
- Performance measurement and analysis
Bachelor of Science in Economics
Economics degrees teach students advanced math and applied statistics as they relate to economic issues. Common courses may also include:
- Political economy
- Financial analysis
- Price theories
- Financial markets
- Real estate investments
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, assessors usually begin their careers by working with an assessor's office that can provide training. These training offices are usually found in larger municipalities and state offices. Additionally, tax assessors often gain relevant knowledge by working in real estate or property revaluations and appraising.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Although there is no specific data available for tax assessors, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offers information for appraisers and assessors of real estate. This agency predicted a 8% increase in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024 (average growth), and, as of May 2015, a median annual wage of $51,860.
Though not all states require tax assessors to be licensed, the BLS states that most jurisdictions have some official requirements for individuals interested in becoming tax assessors. Licensure typically requires attendance of training courses on case studies and topics such as tax base calculation, market comparisons and assessment records maintenance. Upon completion, applicants generally take an exam. Usually, on-the-job tax assessor training is also required in order to earn the credential. Continuing education coursework is typically required to maintain licensure, but specifics vary by state.
Voluntary certifications are available for members of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), an organization that many states work with for assessor training (www.iaao.org). The IAAO offers varying levels of certification, and individuals must generally meet experience and education requirements and pass an exam. They must also complete a project on a commercial and residential property. Continuing education is required to maintain the validity of these credentials.
Tax assessor seminars and conferences are often sponsored by industry organizations like the IAAO. Topics can range from professional ethics to assessment appeals, a legal dispute process in which tax assessors often participate. At these functions, tax assessors can network, listen to guest speakers or participate in workshops on such topics as mass assessment computer systems.
For reference material, tax assessors can procure assessment manuals and handbooks, which provide necessary information regarding current local or state taxes. Additionally, they can attend local chapter meetings of national assessor organizations. Tax assessors wishing to develop professionally can look into the various levels of professional designation certified by the IAAO, including the Assessment Administration Specialist (AAS), Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE), Cadastral Mapping Specialist (CMS), Personal Property Specialist (PPS) and Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES).
By completing a bachelor's program in business administration, accounting, or economics, students may be prepared for careers as appraisers or assessors. Prospective assessors typically need to complete some kind of state-mandated training and may also need to obtain a state license.