How to Become a Property Appraiser or Assessor
Assessors and appraisers tend to take the same courses for certification.
The requirements to become a fully qualified property appraiser or assessor are complex and vary by state and, sometimes, by the value or type of property. These workers typically need a bachelor’s degree, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Appraisers of real estate also must meet state licensure or certification requirements. Check with your state's licensing board for specific requirements.
Although requirements vary, property appraisers and assessors typically need a bachelor’s degree. Common fields of degree include business, social science, and psychology.
College courses in subjects such as computer science, finance, and business or real estate law may be useful for prospective appraisers and assessors.
Most states set education and experience requirements that assessors must meet in order to practice. A few states have no statewide requirements; instead, each locality sets the standards. In some localities, candidates may qualify with a high school diploma.
Employers may require new workers to take basic appraisal courses and complete on-the-job training that lasts 12 months or more. Appraisers and assessors also may need to work enough hours to meet requirements for licensing or certification.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Federal law requires appraisers of real estate to have a state license or certification when working on federally related transactions, such as appraisals for loans made by federally insured banks and financial institutions. The Appraisal Foundation (TAF) offers information on appraisal licensing. There is no such federal requirement for appraisers of personal and business property or for assessors, although some states require certification. For state-specific requirements, applicants should contact their state licensing board.
Real estate appraisers usually value one property at a time, while assessors value many at once. However, both occupations use similar methods and techniques. As a result, assessors and appraisers often take the same courses for certification. In addition to passing a statewide examination, candidates must usually complete a set number of on-the-job hours.
The credential level determines what type of property a real estate appraiser may value. There are four federal appraiser classifications: Licensed Trainee Appraiser, Licensed Residential Appraiser, Certified Residential Appraiser, and Certified General Appraiser.
Each credential requires different education and training to complete. All of them except for the Trainee License also require that candidates receive instruction on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and pass an exam.
The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) offers information on professional appraisers representing all disciplines: Appraisal Review and Management, Business Valuation, Gems and Jewelry, Machinery and Technical Specialties, Personal Property and Real Property.
Unlike appraisers of real estate, neither appraisers of personal and business property nor assessors have federal requirements for certification. In states that mandate certification for assessors, the requirements are usually similar to those for appraisers. For example, the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) offers the Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE) credential covering topics such as property valuation, assessment administration, and property tax policy.
In states that do not require certification for assessors, employers may require candidates to take basic appraisal courses, complete on-the-job training, and meet the work-hours requirements for appraisal licenses or certificates. Assessors also may get a state appraiser license or credential.
Both appraisers and assessors must take continuing education courses to keep their license or certification. Requirements vary by state and credential.
Analytical skills. Property appraisers and assessors use many sources of data when estimating values. As a result, they must research and evaluate all factors before determining their estimate and producing a final report.
Customer-service skills. Because appraisers regularly interact with clients, being polite and friendly is important.
Math skills. Analyzing real estate data for valuation requires making calculations, such as square footage of land and building space, so workers must have good math skills.
Organizational skills. To successfully accomplish tasks related to appraising and assessing property, these workers need to keep good records and be methodical in completing their tasks.
Problem-solving skills. Appraising or assessing a property's value may involve unexpected problems. The ability to develop and apply alternative solutions is crucial to successfully completing the appraisal and report on time.
Time-management skills. Property appraisers and assessors often work under time constraints, sometimes appraising many properties in a single day. As a result, managing their workloads to meet deadlines is important.