Should I Become an Assessor?
Assessors evaluate real estate properties to determine their monetary value. They typically work for local governments, and their results are used to compute real estate taxes. Assessors may be self-employed and work varied hours, including nights and weekends, or employed by a real estate company and work normal business hours. About one-fourth of assessors and appraisers were self-employed in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There is no national standard, so requirements for assessors differ considerably depending upon the state or locality.
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|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; bachelor's degree recommended for those looking for advancement|
|Degree Field||Business, finance or another related field|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Some states require licensure or certification|
|Experience||Experience is required for certification and this may come from on-the-job training|
|Key Skills||Excellent problem-solving, organizational and analytical skills; knowledge of real estate appraisal, property assessment, lease comparison and map creation software; experience with distance meters, laser measuring tools, and ultrasonic measuring instruments may also be a plus|
|Salary||$51,860 (2015 median annual salary for all appraisers and assessors)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, iSeek.org, O*NetOnline, Minnesota State Board of Assessors
Step 1: Acquire Training
Assessors need to take specific courses on assessor law and basic appraisal procedures in order to acquire a license or earn certification. This training is also useful for aspiring assessors who are new to the field. These courses are available through state assessor associations or through the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). Course examples include property appraisal, valuation, and tax policy.
Consider a bachelor's degree as an option in this career field. While not required for this position, some employers may prefer assessors who have earned bachelor's degrees. A bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field could be useful for this career. The BLS reports that courses in math, computer science, and real estate law may also be helpful.
Step 2: Get Work Experience
In some states, assessors may need to meet the same certification requirements as appraisers. In order to get certified, these professionals must acquire work experience after taking assessor and appraiser courses. On-the-job training can be found through apprenticeships in assessor offices. However, assessors can also acquire experience through employment at revaluation firms.
Step 3: Certification and License
Earning certifications may be required by a potential employer. The IAAO has established five professional designations for assessor competencies. Candidates with a specified level of assessment or appraisal experience must complete required courses and projects before sitting for a comprehensive examination. Designations recognize competence in residential evaluation, personal property, mapping, comprehensive assessment, and administration.
Several states require assessors to be licensed, but requirements vary. Some states grant a license to applicants who have taken required courses, and other states require applicants to take an exam after completing education and work experience requirements. Many people in the field obtain both assessor and appraiser licenses. For states requiring assessors to obtain certification as appraisers, the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of the Appraisal Foundation offers coursework and examinations. Based upon courses and exams completed, postsecondary education and appraisal experience, the AQB confers trainee status and three levels of professional certification. These certifications may specify the maximum loan value or type of property an assessor is qualified to assess.
Step 4: Staying Up to Date
Licenses and certificates typically need to be renewed after a certain period of time, requiring continuing education credits and a minimum number of hours on the job since the previous approval. The IAAO offers many instructional courses, workshops and forums for assessor training and continuing education.
As well as remaining certified, it's important to stay up to date with changes and improvements in any career field. The field of real estate assessment increasingly relies on technology, especially mobile technology. Hand-held devices are replacing a pen and a notepad. In a competitive job market, individuals who can adapt quickly might have an advantage and open doors to career advancement and higher positions.
So when looking into becoming an assessor, it's important to realize that this career requires a minimum of a high school diploma, earning certifications and licenses, and several years of experience and on-the-job training in order to successfully work with the necessary technology and to acquire the analytical skills that are used when evaluating property values for tax purposes.