Appraiser: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in the appraisal field. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education information. Schools offering Real Estate degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Appraiser?

Appraisers can be employed in the insurance or real estate industries. As an appraiser, your role is to estimate the cost or value of insured property, real estate holdings, or damaged vehicles. Jewelry, collectibles, or other types of property may also be appraised. Appraisal is often based on several factors, from the condition of the vehicle/building, the cost it would take to repair any damages, and the value of other similar vehicles/the surrounding buildings and land, among other things. For real estate appraisers, specifically, your job typically means ensuring the legality of buildings by making sure they are up to code. Appraisers are often contacted to verify insurance claims, as well.

You can learn more about these different paths by reviewing the summary of information in the table below.

Real Estate Appraiser Insurance Appraiser
Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree High school diploma; postsecondary education may be preferred
Education Field of Study Real estate, business Insurance or related field
Key Skills Attention to detail, physical stamina, writing Math, communication, attention to detail, interpersonal skills
Licensure/Certification State licensure or certification is required to appraise federally owned properties; however, certification and licensure is often required by all employers Some states require licensure for appraisers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all appraisers and assessors of real estate)* -1% (for all insurance appraisers of auto damage)*
Median Salary (2015) $51,860 (for all appraisers and assessors of real estate)* $64,020 (for all insurance appraisers of auto damage)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as an Appraiser?

The duties you perform in real estate appraisal and vehicle appraisal are somewhat different. For real estate, you inspect and evaluate the design, features, and structural integrity of buildings, check compliance with building codes, evaluate the land and surrounding neighborhood, photograph exteriors and interiors to provide supporting evidence for appraisals, estimate replacement costs, obtain county land prices, calculate building values based on such factors as replacement cost, condition, income potential, and value of surrounding buildings, and prepare appraisal reports.

If you appraise damaged vehicles, you evaluate the structural, operational, and cosmetic condition of vehicles, estimate repair cost in parts and labor, determine whether to pay for repairs or pay pre-accident market value for vehicles, calculate salvage value of totaled vehicles, arrange for second opinion appraisals, and prepare appraisal reports. You then forward your information and opinion to adjusters.

Where Could I Work?

As a vehicle appraiser, most of your employment opportunities are with insurance companies, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). If you're a real estate appraiser, companies in the real estate industry or local governments are your main prospects. You could also join the 25% of appraisers who are self-employed.

In 2015, about 15,270 people worked as vehicle appraisers, and about 60,290 worked as real estate appraisers. From 2014-2024, employment of vehicle appraisers was projected to decline 1%, and employment of real estate appraisers was projected to increase 8% to 92,500. As of May 2015, the median annual salary of real estate appraisers was $51,860, while vehicle appraisers earned $64,020.

What Education Do I Need?

While federal law requires states to certify real estate appraisers, you have some flexibility in your education options. Most states specify an associate's degree if you're appraising residential property whose value exceeds $250,000 and a bachelor's degree if you're appraising commercial property. Degree programs in real estate are available at both the associate's and bachelor's degree level. The programs train you to assess the value of real estate, arrange financing and calculate transactions. Appraisers also benefit from courses in computers, economics and business administration.

In addition, many schools offer short programs in real estate appraisal if you've already earned a degree. They're often designed to meet state requirements for academic credit in appraisal. Topics covered include real estate market types, market analysis, and appraisal concepts and procedures.

You don't have to meet any formal educational requirements beyond a high school diploma to appraise vehicles, but employers prefer candidates with education and experience. Associate's degree programs in auto body repair offered by community colleges often include a course or courses in damage appraisal.

If you'd rather not learn body work, certificate programs in damage appraisal are also widely available. Courses teach you to identify vehicles by body type; the mechanical and structural components of vehicles; methods of repairing mechanical, structural and cosmetic damage; and the cost of repairing each category of damage.

Do I Need a License?

In most states, you need a license to appraise residential property. The Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser designation permits you to appraise complex 1-4 residential units valued at less than $250,000 and non-complex 1-4 residential units valued at less than $1 million. You must have 150 hours of education and 2,000 hours of appraisal experience to be eligible for the license examination.

States have varying requirements for vehicle damage appraisers. Completion of an appraisal training program, passage of a licensing exam or both is typical. Some have few or no requirements. Others will accept a professional credential in place of an exam.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Real estate broker is one career related to an appraiser. They often work with real estate appraisers to investigate the price of a property before it is put up for sale or rent. Real estate brokers need a high school diploma and licensure to work in the field. Cost estimators use a variety of research and data in order to estimate how much time and money is required to create products. To work in this field, you'll need a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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