In a recent profile in the New York Observer, Jonathan Miller was called the most trusted (and quoted) person in New York City real estate. Surprisingly, Jonathan Miller is not a power broker or developer, he’s a real estate appraiser. He uses extensive training and research to assess the market value of real estate.
While we can’t promise you’ll be as successful and influential as Jonathan Miller, we can give you this step-by-step guide that teaches you everything you need to know to learn how to become a real estate appraiser. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be certified before you start your career as an appraiser: for training courses we highly recommend Brightwood.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:
- Take the Courses Required to Get a Trainee Appraiser License
- Complete 2,000 Hours of Work Experience under the Supervision of a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser
- Complete College Coursework and an Additional 75 hours of Appraisal Coursework
- Pass the Residential Real Property Appraiser Exam
- Submit Your License Application to Get Your Appraiser License
- Optional: Become a Certified Residential Appraiser
- Optional: Join the National Association of Realtors
Step 1. Take the Courses Required to Get a Trainee Appraiser License
While the appraisal industry is regulated slightly differently in each state, all states require you to start your career as a Trainee Appraiser before becoming a Licensed Residential Appraiser. In order to become a trainee, you need to complete and pass courses designed to give you a strong foundation in the principles and procedures of working in the field as a real estate appraiser.
You will need to take a minimum amount of coursework in order to become an appraisal trainee. The Appraiser Qualifications Board sets national minimum standards for the education of appraiser trainees. The following hours of coursework is the minimum required to become a trainee appraiser in every state.
- Basic Appraisal Principles – 30 hours
- Basic Appraisal Procedures – 30 hours
- 15-hour Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)
As of January 1, 2015, in addition to these standard hours of coursework, you will also be required to take a 4 hour supervisory/trainee class, for a total of 79 hours of appraisal education. This new required class will go over the expectations and responsibilities of the trainee/mentor relationship, which we’ll cover in detail in step 2.
Some states require slightly more classroom time to get your trainee licence. Here’s a quick breakdown of the requirements in these states:
- New York, California, and West Virginia: 150 hours of coursework;
- North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia: 90 hours of coursework
- Colorado and Florida: 110 and 100 hours of coursework respectively
Please note that you will still need to take the 4 hour supervisory/trainee class in addition to the coursework listed above for these states.
While there are many places that offer the standard appraisal courses required for getting your trainee licence, Brightwood, a trusted name in professional education for more than 70 years, offers some of the best in the industry. When you’re ready to start researching coursework, Brightwood should be the first name on your list.
Step 2. Complete 2,000 Hours of Work Experience Under the Supervision of a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser
Once you have your trainee license, you will then be able to work as a real estate appraiser, but only under the strict supervision and mentorship of a Licensed Real Property Appraiser. In order to graduate to the next level and become a licensed real property appraiser, you will need to complete 2,000 hours of work experience under their supervision in no less than 12 months.
This doesn’t mean that your mentor has to accompany you on every job. You can appraise any property the mentor is allowed to appraise. But the 2,000 hours of work experience will be logged by your supervisor.
Most good trainee appraiser positions will be at residential appraisal firms, or more frequently at banks, which generally have the greatest need for appraisal services. You can find opportunities as a trainee appraiser on the American Society of Appraisers job bank or job search aggregators like Indeed or Monster.com. You can also reach out directly to appraisal firms or lenders to see if they have any available trainee positions.
Get Your Foot in the Door
According to Dustin Harris, a residential real estate appraiser and coach from Idaho, getting your first position as a trainee appraiser can be tricky, so think of what you can bring to the table before looking for a mentor. Maybe you can offer connections in the real estate industry or skills in web design, sales, or email marketing.
Let’s face it, an appraiser is not going to take on the time commitment and liability required to train a newbie unless there is a clear financial incentive to do so. Appraising is not a charitable cause. So, do not leave it up to your potential mentor to come up with that incentive. Give it to them on a silver platter rather than saying, “I need a job. Will you please give me one?”
How Much You’ll Make Your First Year
While your earning potential as an appraiser is only limited by how hard you’re willing to work, you won’t get rich working as a trainee. Instead, you should expect to make somewhere between $24,000 and $50,000 per year depending on what region of the country you work in, your previous work experience and skillset, and your level of education. Our data comes from PayScale.com, but you can always research open positions on Indeed to get a better idea of the pay in your region.
Step 3. Complete College Coursework and Additional 75 hours of Appraisal Coursework
After finishing your 79 hours of appraisal education to become a trainee and completing 2,000 hours of work experience under the supervision of a licensed real estate appraiser, the next step is to complete an additional 75 hours of coursework in order to become a fully licensed licensed real property appraiser. You will need to take the following courses:
- Residential Market Analysis and Highest and Best Use—15 hours
- Residential Appraiser Site Valuation and Cost Approach—15 hours
- Residential Sales Comparison and Income Approaches—30 hours
- Residential Report Writing and Case Studies—15 hours
You will also need to complete an associate’s degree or 30 semester credits of college coursework from an accredited college, university, junior college, or community college.
If you already have a degree, coursework in statistics, mathematics, real estate, and business can be great assets for your resume. Since you will do a great deal of writing as an appraiser, a course in English composition won’t hurt either.
Step 4. Pass the Residential Real Property Appraiser Exam
The next step is to take and pass your state’s real property appraiser exam. You will need to pass this test to become a full fledged licensed real property appraiser. The exam will cover appraisal math and statistics, legal considerations, real estate markets, types of value, and more.
To learn more about the real estate appraisal exam in your state, click here.
Step 5: Submit Your License Application to Get Your Appraiser License
After completing your work experience, educational requirements, and passing your exam, the final step to becoming a real estate appraiser is to submit your license application to your state’s real estate appraisers board. To find your local appraisers board, click here.
Once you have your license, congratulations! You can officially begin working as a real estate appraiser. There are a few limitations on what types of property you can write appraisals for though.
As a Licensed Residential Appraiser, you can only appraise non-complex one through four unit residential properties worth less than $1,000,0000, and complex one through four unit residential properties having a value of less than $250,0000. In order to appraise more complex properties or properties valued at higher than $1,00,0000, you will need to take additional coursework to become a certified residential appraiser. More on that next.
Optional: Become a Certified Residential Appraiser
After working as a licensed residential appraiser for a few years, you will more than likely want to upgrade your license to become a certified residential appraiser. The main benefit of becoming a certified residential appraiser is that you are allowed to appraise properties valued at over $1 million. In addition, you will become much more marketable as an appraiser as many banks prefer to work with certified residential appraisers rather than licensed residential appraisers.
In order to become a certified residential appraiser, you will need to have the following:
- A bachelor’s degree.
- At least 200 hours of AQB-approved appraisal coursework. Since you already took 154 hours of AQB coursework to get your appraisal license, you will only need to take an additional 46 hours of coursework to be eligible for a certified appraiser license.
- At least 2,500 hours of experience working as an appraiser or appraisal trainee in no less than 24 months. Since the 2,000 hours of work experience you completed as a trainee counts toward this total, you will only need to complete 500 additional hours of work experience.
As a certified residential appraiser, you can appraise one to four unit residential buildings without regard for complexity or value. You may also appraise vacant or unimproved land that is utilized for one to four residential units, or is best suited for one to four residential units. In order to appraise vacant or unimproved land suited for more than four residential units, you will need to get additional certifications.
Optional: Join the National Association of Realtors
In order to appraise real estate accurately, you will more than likely need access to an MLS (multiple listing service) in order to research closed and current properties for sale. To access an MLS, you will need to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
To join, you will need to register with your local association of realtors. Yearly dues vary from state to state, but most charge between $150 and $250 per year. Depending on what firm you work for, this cost may be covered by your employer. If you’re working freelance, than you will have to pay this expense on your own.
How Much Do Real Estate Appraisers Make?
According to data from the 2016 National Association of Realtors Member Profile, the median income for all NAR affiliated real estate appraisers in 2015 was $69,670. While these are only real estate appraisers who are members of the National Association of Realtors, it’s in line with the median income listed on PayScale.com which is $60,733.
On the high end, a lucky 26% of all real estate appraisers who are NAR members make between $100,000 to $199,000 per year. 10% of real estate appraisers make $200,000 to $250,000 and up per year.
Considering that the median income for NAR member real estate agents is only $29,560, it’s pretty clear that real estate appraisal is a more lucrative career option. When we break down the numbers, it becomes even clearer. For example, only 11% of real estate agents make between $50,000 and $74,999. For real estate appraisers, that number is 35%. On the higher end, only 8% of real estate agents make between $100,000 and $149,999. For Real estate appraisers, that number is 16%.
Gross income distribution for NAR-affiliated real estate appraisers 2015
|Gross income range||Percentage of NAR-affiliated real estate appraisers who earned this income in 2015|
|Median gross income for all NAR affiliated real estate appraisers|
|Less than $10,000|
|$10,000 to $24,999|
|$25,000 to $34,999|
|$35,000 to $49,999|
|$50,000 to $74,999|
|$75,000 to $99,999|
|$100,000 to $149,999|
|$150,000 to $199,999|
|$200,000 to $249,999|
|$250,000 or more|
Number of Properties Appraised Per Year
What kind of workload can you expect as a real estate appraiser? The median number of properties appraised by NAR member real estate appraisers in 2015 was 200 per appraiser. This represents a significant increase from the median number of properties appraised in 2014, which was only 170 per appraiser. Many industry experts chalk this up to an aging population of real estate appraisers and too few new real estate appraisers joining the workforce.
Finding Work as a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser
Finding work as a licensed real estate appraiser is relatively straightforward. Search for job openings on job search aggregators like Indeed or Monster.com. In the first few years of your career, you will more than likely work for a bank or private appraisal company.
What’s the Career Outlook for Real Estate Appraisers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate for real estate appraisers is 8%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 7%. However, this statistic alone doesn’t give a complete picture of the career outlook for real estate appraisers.
According to an article on MarketWatch, there were 78,500 real estate appraisers working in the US in 2015. This is down a full 20% from 2007. A big part of this change can be attributed to an aging population of appraisers. According to data cited in the article, 62% of all appraisers are 51 or older, rapidly approaching retirement age. Meanwhile, only 13% are 35 or younger. That may mean that there will soon be a need for more qualified appraisers.
Another reason that the population of appraisers is shrinking is the increased training and qualifications needed to become a real estate appraiser today. Before the 1990s, a real estate license was generally all that was required to become a real estate appraiser. As you learned in this article, becoming a real estate appraiser requires more time, education, and effort these days. But if you’re willing to work hard and have an analytical mind, the hard work can pay off.
The Bottom Line
A career as a real estate appraiser can be a financially rewarding and fulfilling path for people who are willing to put in the time and effort to train for it. Quality education and mentorship are key factors for future success so must be chosen with great care.
Ready to get started? We recommend Brightwood’s appraisal education program, which offers courses online and in-person. Click here to visit Brightwood and start your path to becoming a licensed real estate appraiser.