How to Become an Appraiser in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for appraisers. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Real Estate degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Appraiser Do?

Appraisers calculate the value or property and items inside a home. Factors such as building condition, location, and aesthetic appeal are taken into consideration when assigning value to an object. When it comes time to properly assign a final value, they will create reports based on their findings and submit them to clients. Appraisers might work with companies or they can be self-employed.

The following chart gives you an overview about becoming an appraiser.

Degree Required Associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Training Required Appraisal training and on-the-job experience is generally required
Education Field of Study Business or real estate law, economics, finance, mathematics
Licensure and/or Certification State licensure or certification is required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (real estate appraisers and assessors)*
Median Salary (2015) $51,860 (real estate appraisers and assessors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Appraiser?

Appraisers examine physical objects and intangible property to determine their value. Most evaluate a specific item, such as real estate, artwork or antiques. They also write reports explaining how they arrived at the appraised value. For example, when real estate appraisers visit and walk through a property, they take into consideration its architecture, size, condition and location and make note of these factors in their appraiser's report. Because appraisers can value a variety of items, your training, education and certification requirements will depend on your intended area of specialization.

Step 1: Decide What Type of Appraiser You Want to Become

Many different types of appraisers work in today's market, and they're defined by what they appraise. In addition to antiques, artwork and real estate, the list of appraisable property includes jewelry, coins, businesses, domain names, copyrights, patents and many other tangible and intangible items. The type of item you choose to evaluate should hold some interest for you.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The educational background of appraisers varies as widely as the types of appraisable items. Courses in business, finance, computer science and English are useful for any appraiser. If your area of interest has a relevant degree program you could consider going that route. For example, you could pursue a degree in real estate if you want to be a real estate appraiser, or you could pursue a degree in fine arts or art history if you want to be an art appraiser. Though rare, bachelor's degree programs in valuation sciences are available from some schools.

A bachelor's degree program in valuation science teaches you the theory behind appraisal, the factors that influence valuation and the appraisal practices in different areas of property ownership. Programs also provide a general business education with courses that touch on accounting, economics, finance and investing. You'll also have to complete general education courses in English composition, the humanities and the natural sciences.

Step 3: Complete Appraiser Courses and On-the-Job Training

You can also prepare for an appraising career through short courses, seminars and conferences in your area of appraisal while you build work experience or work toward a college degree. The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) offers courses in report writing and valuation for business, machinery, personal property, gems and real estate (www.appraisers.org). The Appraisal Institute specializes in real estate appraisal and supports both online and classroom-based courses (www.appraisalinstitute.org).

Step 4: Obtain Employment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 60,290 people were employed as real estate appraisers and assessors as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). Job figures for other areas of appraisal weren't available. Approximately 25% of appraisers were self-employed. Opportunities with local governments and in the offices of real estate agents are also available for your consideration. Growth in employment from 2014-2024 was projected to be eight percent -- an average rate, according to the BLS.

Step 5: Obtain Licensure and Certification

If you're a real estate appraiser you need certification and a license in most states. The Appraisal Foundation has established Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) for mass, business, personal property and real estate appraisals (www.appraisalfoundation.org). All states require that real estate appraisers conform to the foundation's education and training standards.

Licensure options include the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser classification and the Licensed Residential Appraiser classification. The latter requires 150 hours of education and at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Every two years, you must also complete a USPAP update course to retain your license.

The ASA accredits all types of appraisers. Their designations include the Accredited Member (AM) and Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA). AM accreditation requires two years of full-time appraisal experience and ASA accreditation requires five years of full-time experience. Additionally, you're required to hold a bachelor's degree in any field, or make up for that requirement with additional years of work experience.

The Appraisal Institute (www.appraisalinstitute.org) awards the MAI and SRA professional designations. Eligibility for the SRA requires a 2-year degree, passage of a 15-hour USPAP course and exam and the accumulation of 3,000 hours of appraisal experience over two years. To be eligible for the MAI, you'll need to earn a 4-year degree, pass a 15-hour USPAP course (with exam) and accumulate 4,500 hours of specialized appraisal experience over three years. The International Association of Assessing Officers (www.iaao.org) offers various professional designations to individuals involved in assessing property for purposes of taxation.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree, you will be more than qualified to pursue other careers related to inspection and appraisal. Claims adjusters and appraisers are in charge of the evaluation of insurance claims, making sure that damage and claims align with what is submitted by clients. Those in construction inspection assure that buildings stay in compliance with ordinances such as fire and zoning. There are also real estate brokers who work with potential homeowners, and brokers operate their own businesses.

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