How Can I Become an Art Appraiser?

Research what it takes to become an art appraiser. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this career is right for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Art Appraiser?

An art appraiser analyzes a piece of art using a wide assortment of resources, such as books, photographs and samples of other art work in order to determine the value of the piece. Art appraisers most often find work at auctions, art galleries or insurance companies. They can also work at museums, educational institutions or for private collectors. Some art appraisers may specialize in appraising certain kinds of art, such as paintings or sculptures, or specialize in appraising artwork of different time periods. These professionals must provide objective information to their clients and act as a third disinterested party. If working to determine the authenticity and value of various artworks appeals to you, refer to the table below for an overview of this position.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Field of Study Fine art, art history or related field
Key Responsibilities Collaborate with artists, art dealers, museums and other art experts to determine artwork's authenticity, possess strong understanding of art market, determine the value and appropriate costs of various types of artwork
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3% for the parent field of all claim adjusters and appraisers*
Average Salary (2017) $55,366 for art appraisers **

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salaryexpert.com

What Do Art Appraisers Do?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines an appraiser as a professional who determines the value of property, often for insurance purposes (www.bls.gov). As an art appraiser, you'll analyze a piece of art using a wide assortment of resources, such as books, photographs and samples of other artwork. Studying color, brush strokes, condition and style will help you determine value. You'll assess the worth of a piece of art based on your research, and your assessment can be used during sales negotiations and when buyers purchase an insurance policy. You may also be asked to determine if a particular art piece is a forgery.

Many opportunities exist for art appraisers. You might find a job working in an auction house, an art gallery or for an insurance company. Businesses often invest in art and may hire a private appraisal firm that employs professional, certified appraisers.

What Education Requirements Are There?

Although there is no specific degree requirement to be an art appraiser, the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) requires its members to hold, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree from an accredited school (www.appraisers.org). Fine art and art history are two possible fields of study recommended for appraisers specializing in art. Both majors will take approximately four years to complete.

Courses you may take when pursuing a bachelor's degree in fine arts include art techniques, theory and specialized studies of various mediums. A bachelor's degree in art history is similar to the fine arts program of study, but it provides a stronger emphasis on the historical aspect. You might take classes exploring art created in many countries and during different periods of time.

What Training and Qualifications Do I Need?

The Appraisers Association of America has created the Professional Development Program (PDP) to help new appraisers enhance their skills while they work with more experienced appraisers (www.appraisersassoc.org). Anyone may apply, but preference is given to those who have earned the Appraisal Studies Certificate in Fine and Decorative Arts from New York University. The ten courses required for this certificate include studies in legal and ethical issues, as well as research.

Another requirement for acceptance into the PDP is an exam and a 15-hour course focused on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Although this course is not required to be an art appraiser, you'll need to be familiar and fully compliant with the standards created by the Appraisal Standards Board. In addition, many states will have additional requirements regarding appraiser licensing.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Cost estimators and appraisers and assessors of real estate are some related careers that also require a bachelor's degree. Cost estimators look at the manufacturing process or at the process of offering a particular service to estimate the cost of all the variables in the process. For example, they may analyze how much labor it takes to make a car, as well as how much that labor costs. Appraisers and assessors of real estate perform similar duties to art appraisers, but estimate the value of land or buildings. They usually provide their services prior to the selling or development of property.

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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  • Regent University

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  • The Art Institutes

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    • Anywhere: Anjou, Laval, Longueuil, Montreal, Point Claire
  • University of Oregon

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  • University of Kentucky

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    • Kentucky: Lexington
  • DePaul University

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    • Illinois: Chicago
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    • Florida: Tallahassee
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    • Louisiana: Hammond