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Appraiser Career Guide

What is an appraiser?

Appraisers are the detectives of property value. They take a close look at real estate or other valuable items and figure out how much they’re worth. This job is super important because property values affect lots of stuff—like housing prices, taxes, and even investment decisions. An appraiser makes sure that when properties are bought or sold, everyone gets a fair deal, and this helps keep the market stable.

Duties and responsibilities

An appraiser’s main job? To decide what properties are worth. They check out every detail of a property, from how it’s built to where it’s located, and also keep an eye on market trends and past sale prices. After a thorough inspection, they write up a detailed report that explains how they figured out the property’s value.

Appraisers must also stay informed about anything that could change property values, like new zoning laws, economic shifts, or environmental issues. Plus, they work with public records offices to make sure the legal stuff about properties is correct. It’s not just about the appraisal itself—they need to understand the bigger picture of the property market too.

Work environment

Appraisers split their time between the office and the field. They travel around to different properties, taking photos and making notes, and then head back to the office to do research, write reports, and analyze data. Depending on their specialty, they could be checking out homes, commercial buildings, industrial sites, or even art and antiques.

Typical work hours

Most appraisers work around 40 hours a week, but they need to be flexible. Sometimes they have to work evenings or weekends to fit their clients’ schedules or to inspect properties under certain conditions. If they’re self-employed, they’ve got more control over their hours. So, while they generally have a standard schedule, it can vary depending on their workload.

How to become an appraiser

If you’re thinking about becoming an appraiser, you’re looking at a career that involves a mix of education, exams, and hands-on experience. Here’s a simple breakdown of the steps to get there:

Step 1: Finish high school

Start with getting your high school diploma or GED. High school is where you pick up key skills like how to communicate and solve problems, which are super important in this job.

Step 2: Get a bachelor’s degree (optional, but helpful)

While not always necessary, having a bachelor’s degree can boost your job prospects. Degrees in business, economics, finance, or real estate are especially useful since they cover a lot of what you need to know as an appraiser.

Step 3: Take appraisal courses

After your formal education, you’ll need to take specific courses in appraisal methods. These are set by the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) and are all about the nuts and bolts of appraising.

Step 4: Pass the Uniform Appraiser Examination

This is a big one. The exam covers everything from different property types and market analysis to laws and regulations. Passing it shows you’re ready for real-world appraising.

Step 5: Gain work experience

Before you can be licensed or certified, you need to rack up some real-world experience. This means working under a seasoned appraiser, and the amount of time you need varies based on what kind of license or certification you want.

Step 6: Get licensed or certified

Once you’ve got your education and experience, you can apply for a license or certification in your state. You’ll need to show proof of your schooling and work experience.

Step 7: Keep learning

After you’re licensed, keep your skills sharp with ongoing education. As you grow in your career, consider pursuing higher-level credentials to open up more opportunities.

Step 8: Take online courses

To really stand out, look into online courses that focus on real estate fundamentals, data analysis, and communication. These can help you become a top-notch appraiser who’s great at understanding properties and explaining your assessments to others.

How much do appraisers make?

Compensation for appraisers varies by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. Their specialty (like real estate or fine art), certification level, and the complexity of the job can also significantly impact their salary.

Highest paying industries

  • Securities and Financial Activities: $100,550
  • Insurance Carriers: $81,480
  • Federal Executive Branch: $77,690
  • Land Subdivision: $76,820
  • Local Government: $71,100

Highest paying states

  • California: $96,220
  • New Jersey: $94,810
  • Oregon: $91,780
  • Connecticut: $91,430
  • New York: $90,320

Browse appraiser salary data by market

Types of appraisers

Appraisers come in all shapes and sizes, each specializing in a different kind of valuable. Here’s a rundown of the different types you might become:

  • Real estate appraiser: These are the go-to experts for figuring out what a house or a commercial building is worth. They look at everything from where it is, to its special features, and what’s happening in the property market. 
  • Personal property appraiser: These pros focus on stuff you can move – like antiques, equipment, and all sorts of collectibles. They decide how much these items are worth based on their condition, how rare they are, and other cool features. 
  • Business appraiser: If you want to know how much a whole business is worth, these are the people to ask. They look at everything about a company to figure out its value, which is crucial for sales talks, mergers, or investment decisions. 
  • Art and antique appraiser: Love art and history? This might be your calling. These appraisers judge the value of art and antiques, like paintings, sculptures, and old furniture. 
  • Gem and jewelry appraiser: Are sparkly things your thing? These appraisers assess the value of gems and jewelry. They look at the details of gemstones—think cut, carat, clarity, and color—and the craftsmanship of jewelry pieces. 

Top skills for appraisers

To be a standout appraiser, you need more than just the ability to put a price on things. Here are some essential skills and traits that are super important in this field:

  • Analytical skills: You must be able to analyze all sorts of info—market data, property details, past sales—and make sense of it all. This skill is crucial for generating accurate and trustworthy value estimates.
  • Real estate market knowledge: Property appraisers need to keep their finger on the pulse of the real estate market. They should understand trends, pricing, laws, and even how environmental factors impact property values.
  • Attention to detail: Whether it’s a tiny flaw in a property or a subtle touch-up on an old painting, the smallest details can hugely impact an item’s value. Being super observant and thorough in your evaluations is key.
  • Communication skills: You need to clearly explain your valuation process and stand by your estimates, especially when they’re challenged. This is crucial when dealing with complex assets like real estate or antiques.
  • Integrity: Your reputation is everything; being impartial and honest is non-negotiable. Any bias or unethical moves can seriously hurt your credibility and land you in legal hot water.

Appraiser career path options

Embarking on an appraiser career is like starting a journey full of growth and diverse opportunities. Here’s how your path could unfold:

Specializing in appraisal types

As you get more experienced, you can choose to specialize. This could be in residential properties (like homes), commercial properties (like office buildings), or even industrial real estate. Specialization means you’ll get really good at valuing certain types of properties, which can make you more sought-after in those areas.

Moving up to senior roles

After a few years, you might step into senior roles. Here, you’ll handle bigger, more complex appraisal projects. Senior roles are not just about doing more; they’re about leading and making more significant decisions.

Freelance or consultancy work

With a solid reputation, you might find doors opening for freelance or consultancy gigs. This route offers more flexibility and often more variety in work. Freelance or consultancy can lead to working with a range of clients and on a variety of projects.

Running your own appraisal business

Many appraisers eventually start their own businesses. This big step involves managing a team and handling all aspects of running a company. Owning your business means you can shape the kind of work you do and the clients you serve.

Your skills are transferable! You might move into roles like a real estate agent, mortgage advisor, or insurance underwriter, where your appraisal knowledge is a huge asset. Working in related fields allows you to see the property world from different perspectives and use your expertise in new ways.

Roles in government organizations

Appraisers are also needed in government, usually to help determine property values for tax reasons. These roles offer stability and a chance to contribute to public policy and community planning.

The world of appraising is evolving, and there are some exciting trends and a positive job outlook for those in the field:

  • Increased demand: There’s a growing need for appraisers in both commercial transactions and residential projects. Skilled appraisers are in high demand as more properties are developed and change hands.
  • Technology’s role: Modern tech is transforming how appraisals are done. Drones, for instance, let appraisers check out properties from the sky, making the process quicker and more thorough. Plus, software tools help keep track of market trends and property details more accurately.
  • Sustainability focus: There’s a big push for environmentally friendly buildings. Appraisers who understand how energy efficiency and sustainable features affect property value are becoming more critical. They’re helping the real estate world go green in a big way.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for appraisers are expected to grow by about 4% through 2031. This growth is driven by economic expansion and population increases. More people and businesses mean more properties being built and sold, which means more work for appraisers.

Appraiser career tips

Stay informed about the market

Keep a close eye on what’s affecting property values in different areas by regularly reading industry publications and subscribing to newsletters. Staying informed helps you make accurate appraisals and keeps you ahead in the game.

Invest in your professional development

The market and technologies are always changing, so continuous learning is vital to staying competitive and competent. Consider enhancing your qualifications with additional certifications or academic degrees, like becoming a Certified Residential or General Real Property Appraiser or pursuing a master’s in real estate or a diploma in property appraisal.

Think critically

Being able to view properties and market conditions from different angles is crucial. It helps you come up with more accurate valuations. Sometimes, you’ll need to defend your valuation. Strong negotiation and persuasive skills are important in these situations.

Build a professional network

Attend industry events, seminars, and become an active member of professional organizations. This can open doors to new opportunities and provide valuable insights into industry trends. Consider joining groups like The American Society of Appraisers (ASA), The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), The Appraisal Institute, or the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers (NAREA).

Where the appraiser jobs are

Top employers

  • CBRE
  • Altus Group
  • JLL
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • Newmark

Top states

  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • New York

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn Jobs
  • Upwork
  • Monster


What skills are beneficial for an appraiser to have?

They need exceptional attention to detail, excellent communication and customer service skills, analytical skills, and a solid understanding of business, economics, and market trends. Proficiency in database software and GIS is also beneficial.

What are common tasks for an appraiser?

Common tasks often involve inspecting properties to observe their condition, verifying property features by comparing them to public records, and using comparable market analysis to estimate property value. Preparing written reports on property values, taking photos of the property, and detailing any noteworthy characteristics are also common tasks.

What is the work environment of an appraiser?

They typically split their work time between a main office and field visits for property evaluations. Fieldwork can include visiting a variety of property types, such as residential homes, commercial buildings, or land parcels. Office work generally involves analysis, report writing, and client communication.

What qualifications are needed to become an appraiser?

Qualifications typically involve a bachelor’s degree in finance, real estate, economics, or business. Additionally, specialized training or certification may be required depending on the location and type of appraisal work. For example, real estate appraisers in the United States need licensure or certification, which involves coursework and an examination.

Is there demand for appraisers?

Yes. There is a consistent demand, particularly in the real estate sector. Growth in the housing market and financial sector often drives this need. It’s also worth noting that they are needed in various other sectors as well, such as insurance, art, and antiques, where establishing the value of assets is required.

Is appraisal a suitable career for those who prefer working alone?

Yes. Those who prefer working alone may find the appraisal career suitable. While there is interaction with property owners and clients, a large part of the work, such as research, analysis, and report writing, is often done independently.

What are the challenges that appraisers face?

They often face challenges tied to market fluctuations and their field’s varying standards and regulations. Keeping updated with changing market conditions, technology, and laws governing appraisals in their respective fields can be demanding. There can also be pressure related to accuracy, as financial decisions often rely heavily on appraisal values.

What is a typical day like for an appraiser?

A typical day might begin with administrative tasks such as checking emails and scheduling appointments for property visits. The rest of the day might be spent on property inspections, taking photographs, making notes on the property’s specifics, and speaking with property owners. Later, back in the office, they would correlate their findings, conduct research, and create comprehensive reports detailing their valuation assessment.

How can an appraiser maintain their skills?

Continuing education and professional development is critical to maintain and enhance their skills. Keeping up to date with changes in legislation, methodology, and technology affecting the appraisal field is also very important. Participation in industry networks and professional organizations can provide resources for growth and learning.

What is the difference between an appraiser and an assessor?

Both appraisers and assessors estimate property values, but they do this for different reasons. Appraisers generally determine a property’s value for purposes like sales, mortgages, or insurance. Assessors, typically employed by local governments, calculate property values for taxation purposes. Assessors work more with collective data and broader market trends, while appraisers focus on specific property details.

How does an appraiser handle disagreements over valuation?

When disagreements over valuation arise, they rely on their skills, knowledge, and the data they have gathered to justify their assessment. It involves explaining the factors and comparative market data used to arrive at their appraisal value. However, they must also be open to checking their work and considering any valid points or data brought by the disagreeing party.