How Can I Become a Tax Assessor?

Research what it takes to become a tax assessor. Learn about education, licensure and certification requirements along with job outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Accounting - Taxation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Tax Assessor?

A tax assessor is a local government official who conducts evaluations of neighborhoods or other large residential areas, gathering information that can be used to determine property values and corresponding tax rates for owners. For these mass appraisals, they typically employ advanced analytical techniques and high-level software. Based on their findings, they prepare written reports for interested parties, including individual homeowners, neighborhood organizations and local tax authorities.

The following table provides information for this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Real estate law, economics and finance
Key Skills Knowledge of real estate and mathematics; detail-oriented
Licensure/Certification Licensure or certification required for some positions
Job Growth (2014-24) 8%* ( for appraisers and assessors of real estate)
Average Salary (2015) $58,400* (for appraisers and assessors of real estate)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Sort of Education Do I Need To Be a Tax Assessor?

Tax assessors value property and use appraisal techniques to assess the value of entire neighborhoods as opposed to individual properties. As an assessor you would most likely work for a local government in an area you are familiar with, although you could also work for a revaluation firm that works with governments. Familiarity of a specific geographic area would give you the advantage of knowing environmental and property effects.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree with coursework in real estate law, economics and finance is recommended (www.bls.gov). Additionally, many assessors' offices provide on-the-job training, though if you live in a smaller town this may not be available. You may be required to obtain specific training through a revaluation firm, county board or local college.

Certification and Licensure

Most states and some municipalities have their own rules regarding assessor certification and licensure, so you should check with your state for specific requirements. You will most likely begin your career as a trainee and move through the ranks of your office, with the top position being an appointed or elected senior assessor or supervisor.

The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) offers five assessor certifications that signify exceptional skills and can result in a promotion or salary increase. These certifications include:

  • Assessment Administration Specialist (AAS)
  • Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE)
  • Cadastral Mapping Specialist (CMS)
  • Personal Property Specialist (PPS)
  • Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES)

To qualify for the credentials, you'll need to obtain membership with the IAAO and take IAAO courses in property appraisal, valuation, residential modeling and tax policies (www.iaao.org). You'll also be required to have three years of work experience and pass a certification examination. The IAAO requires all of its designees to complete 50 credit hours of continuing education every five years to maintain certification.

Skills and Knowledge

To be a successful tax assessor you must have good analytic and mathematic skills, as well as a keen eye for detail. One of most important skills you should have is good public relations skills. You'll need to be able to inform and educate the public about assessments through meetings and media communication. On a personal level, this means you must be polite and able to communicate clearly.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as an assessor, you could become a real estate appraiser. Instead of evaluating entire neighborhoods at once, appraisers value single properties. They may focus on either commercial or residential properties. To become an appraiser, you need to have at least a bachelor's degree. Another tax-related position is a job as a tax examiner. They usually review the tax returns of individuals to make sure they are error-free and to flag any potential problems. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in accounting or a closely related subject.

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