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Learn How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

When choosing the right career or major, many young adults don't immediately think of real estate. However, it is a big industry around the world, and it is one that requires hundreds of thousands of employees in order to function properly.

Real estate agents sell and broker properties to prospective buyers, for example, and real estate lawyers oversee the transactions. Real estate appraisers ensure that the value of the home is accurate when a bank finances the property, and their role in the buying and selling of properties is vital.

If this career stands out as something that you might be interested in, read on to discover more about what it takes to become a real estate assessor, what education is required, what the job description entails, places where assessors can work, average salaries and forecast job growth in the United States.

Quick Facts: Real Estate Industry
Median Pay:   $50,873 per year | $24 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience:   Less than 5 years
Number of Jobs, 2014:   733,000

Real Estate Occupations:

  • Property, real estate, and community association managers$54,270
  • Real estate sales agents$40,990
  • Real estate brokers$57,360

Understanding the Job of a Real Estate Assessor

If you are considering a career in real estate appraisal, you should have a clear picture of what this job entails. Essentially, an appraiser takes an in-depth look at a piece of property and determines what the value of that property should be.

In order to gather all of the required information and make a reasonable assessment, a real estate assessor might tour the property, take extensive photographs and check on key structural factors.

Assessors often look at residential homes, condos, apartments, commercial office spaces and retail properties. The appraiser will also take into account the neighborhood, the comparable properties nearby and other factors to increase or decrease the estimate price of the land.

For example, a beautiful home near an airport might be worth less than the exact same home overlooking the beach.

How to Become a Property Appraiser

Although there are degree programs in this field, they are not mandatory for property assessor. In fact, there are some real estate appraisers who come from completely different fields or who have degrees in subjects as varied as history, math or economics.

The key to being hired as a full-time or freelance real estate appraiser starts with becoming licensed and registered in the state where you would like to be employed.

There are three major types of certifications available, and they include the following:

  • Certified Residential Real Property Appraiser
  • Certified General Real Property Appraise
  • Licensed Residential Real Property Appraiser

Each requires a certain number of classroom hours in appraising as well as up to three full years of work experience. Most individuals complete these courses and earn the work experience by taking on a similar real estate career like that of a broker or real estate agent.

Many of the skills overlap and can help aspiring assessors gain familiarity with real estate terminology and the variables that influence a home or property's net value.

Degrees That Can Help Secure Your Career in the Field

Each of the three certifications listed above require a minimum of an associate degree, but having a bachelor's degree can go a long way in helping you prepare for the assessor training as well as improving your chances of landing a great interview and finding a career for your future goals.

A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete for the average student, but the option to study online can make it easier to fit into your schedule. Online students can watch lectures from the comfort of home, schedule online exams at their convenience and increase or decrease the pace of the program according to their needs.

Some of the best bachelor's degrees to obtain if you want to become an assessor include the following:

  • Economics
  • Property Management
  • Business Management
  • Real Estate
  • Math

Average Salary For a Property Appraiser

As with most careers, the exact salary varies depending on factors like geographical location, experience, education and how well you are able to complete your job. However, the 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the median annual salary for appraisers of real estate is $49,540.

The highest salaries tend to go toward those appraisers who work in credit, lending and finance, and the lowest salaries tend to be for those appraisers working directly for real estate firms.

Job Growth in the Field

When planning for a future career, job growth is an important element to keep in mind. Jobs that are predicted to grow substantially will be less competitive by the time you graduate college and enter the workforce, which means better opportunities for you and the potential to command higher salaries.

Unfortunately, job growth in this field is slightly below average despite that fact, the BLS estimates that an additional 4,700 real estate appraisers will be hired by 2022.

Top Skills to Have as a Property Assessor

Along with being certified and having a college degree, there are a few traits that can help you to succeed as a property assessor. Since there are frequent deadlines, assessors should be accustomed to working quickly in order to meet a goal for a client.

In addition, they should be comfortable working outside of a traditional office, as part of the job typically involves traveling throughout the area to physically see each property during the assessment period. Finally, the very best assessors out there will be comfortable researching, capable of using computers and spreadsheets, have excellent written communication skills and be very organized.

Being organized is an integral skill for many jobs, but for assessors it could be the difference between someone qualifying for a home loan or being turned down due to the value of the property.

Along with becoming a real estate appraiser, many candidates decide to pursue similar real estate careers such as an agent, a broker, a claims adjuster, a home inspector or an insurance examiner. Whatever career is the best fit, a college degree can help you achieve your goals. Learn more about earning your degree in real estate online.