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Real Estate Appraiser: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn about a career as a real estate appraiser. Read the job description, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Real Estate Appraiser

Real estate appraisers play a key role in the process of valuing, selling and buying of homes. Their common duties include appraising homes, commercial real estate and other properties, preparing appraisal reports, keeping up-to-date on the local real estate market and handling additional responsibilities as needed. Real estate appraisers often specialize in commercial or residential properties. The daily duties of a real estate appraiser may include preparing reports on a property's value, inspecting and photographing a property and working on legal descriptions and data regarding multiple real estate properties.

Real estate appraisers most frequently work for real estate companies, though they may also work for banks, mortgage companies or related firms. Depending on their specialty, appraisers may work more frequently in the field visiting sites (e.g., residential appraisers) or spend more time working in an office environment (e.g., appraisers working for banks). Appraisers usually hold full-time, 40-hour work schedules; however, self-employed appraisers (a.k.a., 'independent fee appraisers') may work more hours than a conventional work week.

Education No specific requirements, most professionals hold an associate's or bachelor's degree
Job Skills Analytical, customer service, interpersonal skills, problem solving
Median Salary (2015)* $51,860 (all assessors and appraisers of real estate)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (all assessors and appraisers of real estate)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

While there are no specific degree requirements to become a real estate appraiser, most real estate appraisers hold an associate's or bachelor's degree. In preparation for a career in real estate appraisal, common courses in a 2-year associate's or 4-year bachelor's degree program include basic appraisal principles, basic appraisal procedures, the appraisal sales comparison approach, market analysis, economics, computer science and business.

Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements for real estate appraisers vary by state; however, most appraisers are required by federal law to have state certification. The Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser and the Certified General Real Property Appraiser are the two federally-required certifications for real estate appraisers. These certifications determine the levels of property that appraisers are allowed to assess. A third certification - the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser - is also offered by most states. The certification process for real estate appraisers generally involves training requirements, a period of time working as a trainee and passing required examinations. Many states also have an ongoing education requirement.

Required Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), real estate appraisers typically display the following qualities:

  • A thorough understanding of appraisal methodology
  • Solid math and business skills
  • A precise attention to detail
  • A strong analytical skill set
  • Customer service skills
  • Organizational and time-management skills
  • Problem-solving skills

Employment and Salary Outlook

The employment outlook for appraisers and assessors of real estate is somewhat low; according to data from the BLS, employment in this field will only grow by 7% from 2014-2024. The median annual earnings for this field in 2015 were $49,540.

Alternative Careers

Occupations those interested in real estate appraisal may consider are building inspection and real estate brokerage.

Building Inspector

Those who want to get in on the ground floor of a new construction project might consider a career as a building or construction inspector. Building inspectors need to know rules and ordinances to make sure a structure complies with coding and zoning laws. They must know facets of all building trades in order to inspect plumbing, ventilation and wiring systems, and they work with both construction workers and building owners to make sure everyone is aware of potential violations and other issues. A college degree isn't required for this position, though training in inspection practices, building codes and local regulations is necessary. Several states also require building inspectors to obtain licensure through examination. The BLS expects to gain around 8,000 building inspection jobs (an 8% increase) from 2014-2024. The median average salary for this occupation in 2015 was $57,340.

Real Estate Agent

For those who are more interested in helping people find the perfect home and who have a flair for sales, becoming a real estate agent could be the perfect fit. Agents know the real estate market in order to find properties for those looking for homes or commercial buildings, and they also advise clients and drive buyers to their properties when they're ready to sell or rent a property. A degree isn't necessarily required, but a state license is, which requires specific real estate training and testing. Approximately 10,000 new real estate agent jobs are projected from 2014-2024 by the BLS. This profession often pays on commission, but the median salary in 2015 was $45,610.

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