How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

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Updated October 26, 2022

A real estate appraiser career can provide great flexibility and upward mobility. Discover the steps required to pursue a job in real estate appraising.

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Real estate appraisers assess the value of residential and commercial properties. A real estate appraiser career may be an excellent choice for those interested in accounting and real estate.

People preferring to work in the field rather than staying at a desk may also consider this job. Real estate appraisers conduct site visits and assess the value of properties, so they tend to spend less time in the office.

In most states, real estate appraisers must be licensed. The requirements can vary by state, but the path to becoming a real estate appraiser typically includes education and on-the-job training.

Find out how to get started on a career as a real estate appraiser, including the education, experience, and licensing requirements.

Steps to a Real Estate Appraiser Career

  1. 1

    Complete real estate appraisal coursework

    The first step in becoming a real estate appraiser is completing 75 hours of coursework in business, economics, finance, and real estate. You can select classes from the Appraisal Foundation's approved courses list. Though some states have different course requirements.

  2. 2

    Become a real estate appraiser trainee

    Once you complete the initial coursework, you are eligible for a trainee license. There is no exam required.

  3. 3

    Complete on-the-job training and additional coursework

    Then, you will need to work under a supervisory appraiser to complete and document work experience hours. Many states require 1,000 hours, equivalent to about six months of full-time work as a trainee.

    Trainees also need to complete an additional 75 hours of coursework for a total of 150 hours. The timeline can vary based on course availability and instructional method, but it typically takes around six months to one year. You can complete the required coursework and the work experience hours at the same time.

  4. 4

    Take the licensed residential appraiser exam

    Once you have met the work experience and educational requirements, you can take the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Examination. Some states have their own equivalent exams, so verify the exam requirements with your local licensing board.

  5. 5

    Pursue additional credentials if desired

    Many real estate appraisers complete higher levels of licensure to access more job opportunities. Appraisers will need to meet additional education and experience requirements to qualify for higher tiers of licensure. You can typically accomplish this in under one year with a degree.

Required Education for Giving House Appraisals

Real estate appraisers do not necessarily need a degree, but there are some coursework requirements.

Real estate appraisers need 75 hours of coursework in real estate, business, accounting, and economics to begin on-the-job training as an appraiser trainee. The approved courses can vary by state, but many require 150 hours of coursework for licensure as a real estate appraiser after training.

A degree can provide real estate appraisers with career advancement and higher earning potential. A bachelor's degree is required for the highest level of certification, the certified general appraiser certification, offered by each state.

Many aspiring real estate appraisers choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting, business, or real estate.

Required Credentials for Real Estate Appraising

The first required credential you need before becoming a real estate appraiser is the trainee license. This certification generally requires 75 hours of qualifying coursework, but specific guidelines may vary between states. There are no exam or experience requirements.

Those with a trainee appraiser certification can work under a supervisory appraiser to conduct property appraisals. This is an interim credential for people working toward full appraiser licensing.

Real estate appraisers need to become licensed by the state in which they work. There are several tiers of real estate appraiser certification. The first non-trainee credential that real estate appraisers get is the licensed residential appraiser designation. This certification generally requires 150 hours of coursework, at least 1,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training, and an examination.

Licensed residential appraisers are generally allowed to appraise non-complex residential units with four units or less and a transaction value of less than $1,000,000. This can be the stopping point for some appraisers, but many pursue higher-level certifications so that they can appraise higher value or complex properties.

Optional Certifications and Degrees

Many licensed real estate appraisers pursue certification as certified residential appraisers so they can appraise any 1-4 unit dwellings without value restrictions. This credential generally requires an extra 50 hours of qualifying education or an eligible degree, 1,500 hours of work experience, and an exam.

The highest level of certification is the certified general appraiser. Those with this designation can appraise all types of real property, which opens up additional work opportunities for appraisers. This certification requires a bachelor's degree in any field of study, 3,000 hours of work experience, and a passing score on an exam.

Additional optional credentials or licenses that real estate appraisers may choose to pursue include:

  • Accredited Land Consultant: This accreditation is granted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to land experts.
  • General Accredited Appraiser: Appraisers exceeding state requirements of education and experience can receive this designation, which signals excellence in the field.
  • Residential Accredited Appraiser: The National Association of Realtors awards this credential to residential appraisers exceeding state requirements for education and experience.
  • Certified International Property Specialist: Real estate professionals can earn this credential by taking classes that cover international property transactions and law.

Required Experience for Conducting House Appraisals

Supervised on-the-job training is required to become a real estate appraiser. Trainees must work under the supervision of a licensed appraiser for a number of hours before becoming eligible for licensure.

Typically, trainees need 1,000 supervised work hours. However, it's best to check with your state's real estate appraiser licensing body to verify the experience requirements.

The residential appraiser license is the next step after trainee licensing. Real estate appraisers that pursue higher-level certifications may substitute education for some of the additional experience requirements, depending on their state's guidelines.

Should I Become a Real Estate Appraiser?

Real estate appraisers spend a significant portion of their time conducting site visits, so it's a great career for people that don't want to be at a desk all day.

The career has a generally positive job outlook and solid earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field will grow by 4% between 2021 and 2031, as fast as average. The average annual salary for real estate appraisers is $61,340.

Before pursuing any real estate professions, consider the current market conditions. A career as a real estate appraiser may not be as stable as most accounting professions.

Real estate appraisers are impacted by fluctuations in the real estate market. If the market is good and people are buying homes, real estate appraisers will be in high demand. However, if market conditions are bad and people are not buying homes, real estate appraisers may experience a decline in demand and income.

The Job Hunt

Attend meetings or networking events through your local professional appraiser membership organization to find available jobs. These organizations are also a great way for trainees to find appraisers to supervise them for on-the-job training hours.

There are also a number of online resources. You can use the following job boards to find real estate appraiser jobs:

  • Select Leaders: The Select Leaders job board is dedicated to real estate jobs. To find real estate appraiser jobs, select "appraisal" under the job function or real estate field drop-down menu.
  • iHire Real Estate: The iHire Real Estate job board includes listings for a variety of jobs in the real estate industry, including real estate appraisal.
  • A.CRE Job Board: This job board features commercial real estate occupations. There is an appraisal category on the site where commercial real estate appraisers can find job opportunities.
  • Indeed: While Indeed is a popular job board for all types of jobs and industries, it is still a helpful resource in finding real estate appraiser jobs.

Upward Mobility

Many residential real estate assessors pursue additional education and licensing to become commercial real estate appraisers. Commercial appraisers provide similar services to residential appraisers, but they focus on commercial buildings. Payscale listed the average annual salary of a commercial real estate appraiser at $69,559 as of October 2022.

Another possible career path is becoming an assessor. Their job duties are similar to that of an appraiser, but assessors work for government agencies and provide property valuations. Since it is a government role, assessors often have better stability and benefits than appraisers.

Many real estate appraisers also start their own businesses. This is a good option for real estate appraisers with an entrepreneurial spirit. Real estate appraisers that pursue this career path often still maintain their standard appraiser job duties.

Starting your own appraisal business requires you to take on management responsibilities. Additional tasks may include hiring and training staff, managing the budget, and marketing the business' services. The earning potential can be higher but you may have less financial stability.

Questions About the Real Estate Appraising Career Path

What degree do you need to become a real estate appraiser?

Many real estate appraisers obtain a bachelor's degree in real estate. However, the specific requirements vary by state, and you can become a real estate appraiser without a degree.

How long does it take to start a real estate appraiser career?

You can get started with a real estate appraiser career in as little as a year. However, if you decide to pursue a bachelor's degree, that can add an additional four years.

What certifications do you need along the real estate appraiser career path?

You need to become certified as a trainee appraiser to begin on-the-job training as a real estate appraiser. To work independently after training, you need to take an exam and become certified as a licensed residential appraiser. These certifications and the requirements to obtain them are governed by state regulatory bodies.

Are real estate appraisers in demand?

The demand for real estate appraisers varies by region. Demand for appraisers is typically higher in areas with strong real estate markets. The industry overall is projected to continue growing at a rate of 4% from 2021-2031, which is average for all occupations.

Do you have to be good at math to be a real estate appraiser?

Real estate appraisers need skills in areas including customer service and mathematics. Individuals can gain these proficiencies during educational programs or through work experience.

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