Appraisers typically work in real estate and present clients with value estimates of buildings, land, and other relevant assets. They construct their estimates—appraisals—through inspection and investigation. Appraisers will gather information from public and private records, bank and tax statements, photographs, and careful examination of the properties to be assessed.
They are adept at identifying key features that add or diminish value, and they rely upon the values of similar properties when making a claim. Not only do they provide estimates for clients, but appraisers are also responsible for maintaining this information for private and public use.
Appraisers typically work in two fields: commercial or residential. Commercial properties include various buildings for business and public use, such as shopping centers, office space, gas stations, and more. Residential properties describe any location in which an individual and his or her family may live. While residential properties may include condominiums or apartments, residential appraisers maintain records for up to four dwellings.
Real estate is a large expense, therefore, clients and the public must trust the information produced by appraisers. In addition to being credible and knowledgeable about this market, appraisers must also exhibit the following qualities:
Appraisers mostly work indoors, inside an office setting. Appraisers do have to conduct field work—investigating and assessing properties—however, commercial appraisers typically spend less time in the field and more time in the office, due to legal documentation. This is especially true for appraisers who work for mortgage companies and banks, which need individuals to analyze and organize data on their behalf.
Various industries exist for appraisers, including government bodies, credit intermediation agencies, and general real estate firms.
The typical appraiser will work full time, during normal business hours, although some evening and weekend work in not uncommon. About a quarter of all appraisers are self-employed, and these individuals typically work more than 40 hours per week, as they usually receive compensation on a commissioned basis.
Appraisers can expect to make a median annual salary of $51,860, per year. The range of pay for appraisers is anywhere between $27,040 and $97,080, annually. The depository credit intermediation industry pays the highest compensation rates, while appraisers working for local governments will typically earn the least. Self-employed appraisers’ fees vary widely due to per-appraisal payments.
Appraiser Career Outlook
The real estate market fluctuates and is often cyclical in its peaks and troughs. Job growth for appraisers depends mostly on this market (location and era); however, properties will continue to need assessment and evaluation. At present, the job outlook for appraisers is average, at about 8 percent growth.
Although this industry is seeing growth, technological advancements are making it a more competitive field, as fewer appraisers will be needed to conduct the same work load. Smart phones, software, and automated valuation models (AVM) will increase efficiency and decrease time spent on assessments.
In order to conduct independent appraisals, an individual must become a licensed residential appraiser. Licensing and other requirements vary by state but most will require at least 30 hours of collegiate-level courses.
Step 1: Become an apprentice appraiser. To become licensed, an individual must first become a trainee, apprentice, or registered appraiser (depending on state and locality). Three courses, 75 hours, of basic appraisal coursework are required:
Basic appraisal principles (30 hours)
Basic appraisal procedures (30 hours)
Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) (15 hours)
Step 2: Gain appraisal experience. Once an individual becomes an apprentice appraiser, he or she must gain on-the-job experience under the supervision of a certified appraiser. Both the supervisor and apprentice must complete a supervisor/trainee course together and log experience hours.
Step 3: Obtain educational credentials. Not every state will require a college degree to become a licensed residential appraiser; however, most will for aspiring commercial appraisers. Credit intermediation, banking, and government employment will also typically require a college degree in a relevant program. Many real estate and real estate appraisal programs exist, and in completing an associate or bachelor’s degree, most aspiring appraisers will meet the 30-credit hour requirement. It is important for students to take courses in economics, business, real estate law, English, computer science, mathematics, and finance to prepare for a career in real estate appraising.
In addition to formal education, the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) has set a number of training requirements for appraisers (although state prerequisites may not have the same standards):
Certified general appraiser: 3,000 experience hours and 300 license education hours
Note: States and localities vary widely regarding educational and licensure requirements, so it is important for individuals to check with state and local licensing bodies.
Step 4: Pass the Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser examination. This is a national test approved by the AQB. To take the test, an individual must complete all education and experience requirements.
Step 5: Apply for licensure. Once an individual has satisfied all requirements, he or she must apply for licensure with the appropriate state or local credentialing agency.