How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser in 7 Steps



A real estate appraiser estimates the market value of commercial or residential property. The requirements for becoming an appraiser differ by state, but national requirements dictate that candidates must have college-level education, complete prelicensing courses, acquire industry experience, and pass the appraiser exam. Visit your state’s licensing board to confirm state-specific requirements.

Becoming a real estate appraiser can be the start of a great career, but you’ll need the proper education first. Check out McKissock Learning to see what’s needed in your state and enroll in necessary classes online for a reasonable cost — giving you the flexibility to complete coursework on your schedule. Click here to learn more.

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Here are the seven steps to becoming a real estate appraiser.

Step 1: Get a Trainee License By Completing Coursework

To become a trainee, you need to complete — and pass — specific coursework that provides a solid real estate appraisal foundation. The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) imposes national course requirements, and some states require additional coursework. The appraisal industry is regulated differently in each state, but all states require you to start your career as a trainee appraiser. Check with your local licensing board for specific requirements.

Complete National Coursework Requirements

To become an appraisal trainee, the AQB requires you to take a minimum of 75 credit hours covering appraisal principles, procedures, and practice. Aspiring appraiser trainees must also take a four-hour supervisory or trainee class.

National coursework requirements are:

  • Basic Appraisal Principles (30 hours): This course introduces aspiring appraisers to basic real property concepts, legal considerations, real estate finance, economic principles, and appraisal ethics
  • Basic Appraisal Procedures (30 hours): The procedures course teaches students about the actual valuation process, including the three traditional approaches to value — cost approach, sales comparison approach, and income approach — and how to collect data, describe the subject property, and communicate appraisal results.
  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) (15 hours): The USPAP 15-hour course sets forth industry requirements for ethical behavior and competent performance as described in the USPAP.

As of January 1, 2015, in addition to these standard hours of coursework, you are also required to take a four-hour supervisory and trainee class for a total of 79 hours of appraisal education. This required class covers the expectations and responsibilities of the trainee and mentor relationship.

Trainee Qualifying Courses - how to become a real estate appraiser

Breakdown of trainee qualifying courses.

Review State-specific Coursework Exceptions

In addition to national course requirements, some states require slightly more classroom time to become an appraiser trainee. However, these states still require the four-hour trainee class in addition to their state-specific requirements. Learn more about your state’s requirements by visiting the state licensing board website or by visiting an online education provider’s website.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the requirements in some of these states:

  • New York, California & West Virginia: 150 hours of coursework
  • Colorado: 110 hours of coursework
  • Florida: 100 hours of coursework
  • North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky & Georgia: 90 hours of coursework

There are many education providers that offer the standard appraisal courses required for getting your trainee license, but they are not created equal. McKissock Learning has more than 25 years of experience educating real estate professionals and offers in-depth, state-specific learning that prepares soon-to-be appraisers to be the best in their field. Click here for more information.

Rachel Massey - how to become a real estate appraiser

“Take quality education [courses] — live and in-person. Doing so exposes you both to sound theory and solid education as well as potentially introduces you to would-be mentors. Other appraisers are more likely to consider hiring someone as a trainee if they have a solid education from a reputable education provider.”

― Rachel Massey, Principal, Massey & Associates Valuation Services, LLC

Step 2: Complete 1,000 Hours of Real Estate Work Experience

After becoming an appraiser trainee, you can only work as a real estate appraiser under the strict mentorship of a licensed real property appraiser. To graduate to the next level of appraiser licensing and become a licensed real property appraiser, you must complete approximately 1,000 hours of work experience under the supervision of a licensed real property appraiser in no fewer than six months.

Getting a position as a real estate appraisal trainee can be challenging. Trainee appraisers can usually find positions at residential appraisal firms and, more frequently, at banks, which generally have the greatest need for real estate appraisal services. Places like the American Society of Appraisers job bank or Indeed or can often be great resources once you reach this point. Just be sure you work under a certified appraiser and keep track of the hours you work.

Certified residential appraiser Doug Haderie gave a great tip for those just starting out: “Go to the state board website and print out every appraiser within a 10-mile radius and just start calling them.” Haderie stated that he printed out about 40 pages of information but didn’t get to the bottom of the second page before he had a lead for a job that ended up becoming his beginning steps in real estate appraising.

Step 3: Complete Final College-level Coursework for Appraiser License

Appraisers can earn a license after becoming an appraiser trainee and completing a minimum of 1,000 hours of work experience under the supervision of a licensed real estate appraiser. Additionally, some states require trainees to complete final preparatory coursework or degree programs, such as an associate degree or college-level courses. However, as of May 1, 2018, there is no longer a national college-level education requirement imposed by the AQB.

State appraiser regulatory agencies are only required to adopt minimum AQB criteria, and many states do not impose college-level education requirements. However, some opt to require additional coursework, so contact your state to confirm licensing requirements. For example, New York requires applicants to complete 30 semester hours of relevant college-level education or hold an associate degree or higher.

Step 4: Pass the Residential Real Property Appraiser Exam

To become a licensed appraiser, some states require you to take and pass a real property appraiser exam. This exam generally covers appraisal math, legal considerations, real estate markets, types of value, and other national subjects. To qualify to sit for the exam, states generally require applicants to have completed appraiser trainee requirements. Contact your state’s licensing board to learn more about examination requirements in your state.

You can also learn about the appraisal requirements in your state by contacting the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).

Step 5: Submit Your License Application to Get Your Appraiser License

After completing your work experience, meeting educational requirements, and passing your exam, submit a license application to your state’s real estate appraisers board. Once you have your license, you can begin working as a real estate appraiser with some limitations on what types of property you can appraise. If you want to grow your appraisal business, consider upgrading your license so you can appraise more complex properties.

State application requirements vary but generally include:

  • Background information: In addition to providing a social security number and other identifying information, applicants must generally provide background information regarding criminal charges or convictions, revoked or suspected licenses, and child support
  • Evidence of course completion: Applicants will be asked to provide the name of the training courses they completed, the course providers, and the date of course completion
  • Employment: Employment histories are requested to provide background information and to provide evidence of relevant appraisal experience
  • Experience report: In addition to providing general job history, you will have to provide an accounting of your appraisal experience; the amount and type of experience varies by state

As a licensed residential appraiser, you can only appraise noncomplex, one to four-unit residential properties worth less than $1 million and complex, one to four-unit residential properties worth less than $250,000. To appraise more complex properties or properties valued higher than $1 million, you need to take additional coursework to become a certified residential appraiser.

Step 6: Find Work as a Licensed Real Estate Appraiser

To find work as a licensed real estate appraiser, search for job openings on job search aggregators like Indeed. In the first few years of your career, you’ll likely work for a bank or private appraisal company. However, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth rate for real estate appraisers is 14%, and the number of real estate appraisers has declined significantly so there will soon be a need for more qualified appraisers.

To appraise real estate accurately, you’ll need access to a multiple listing service (MLS) to research closed and current properties for sale. To gain access to an MLS, join the National Association of REALTORS®️ (NAR) by registering with your local realty association. Yearly dues vary by state, but most charge $150 to $250 per year. Depending on your firm, this cost may be covered by your employer.

Step 7: Upgrade Your License

After working as a licensed residential appraiser for a few years, you may want to upgrade your license to become a certified residential appraiser or certified general appraiser. Certified residential appraisers can appraiser larger, more valuable residential properties while certified general appraisers can appraise all types of real property. Consider upgrading your license if you want to expand your business to larger residential or commercial properties.

Become a Certified Residential Appraiser

The main benefit of upgrading your license to become a certified residential appraiser is that you can appraise properties valued at more than $1 million. To do so, meet national and state requirements for appraisal coursework, experience, and college-level education. Once you become certified, you’ll be more marketable because many banks prefer to work with certified residential appraisers rather than licensed residential appraisers.

To become a certified residential appraiser, meet the following additional requirements:

  • Coursework: Certified residential appraisers are required to complete 200-plus hours of AQB-approved appraisal coursework; previous coursework to get your appraisal license counts toward this goal, so you only have to complete the balance of credits to be eligible for a certified appraiser license
  • Experience: Certified residential appraisers must have at least 1,500 hours of experience working as an appraiser or appraisal trainee in no less than 12 months; the hours of work experience you completed as a trainee count toward this total, so you only need to make up the balance with work as a licensed appraiser
  • Education: Certified residential appraisers must have a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, complete 30 hours of college-level courses or a combination thereof as summarized by The Appraisal Foundation; contact your state’s agency to see how they are adopting new standards and what is required of you to meet them

As a certified residential appraiser, you can appraise one to four-unit residential buildings of any 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. To appraise vacant or unimproved land suited for more than four residential units, you need to get additional certifications.

Become a Certified General Appraiser

Appraisal professionals can also become certified general appraisers. As a certified general appraiser, there are no limitations on the type of real property you can appraise. To attain this certification, the AQB requires a minimum of 300 hours of qualifying education and a bachelor’s degree or higher. Professionals must also complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of fieldwork in no fewer than 30 months, including at least 1,500 hours of nonresidential experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much money can I make as a real estate appraiser?

According to data from the 2017 NAR Member Profile, the median income for all NAR-affiliated real estate appraisers in 2016 was $83,759. According to the BLS, the 2017 median pay for a real estate appraiser was $54,010 per year. Considering that the median income for NAR member real estate sales agents is only $33,750, real estate appraisal is a more lucrative career option.

Do you need a degree to be a real estate appraiser?

Real estate appraiser education requirements vary by state. However, the national standard set forth by the AQB does not require appraisal professionals to have a college-level degree to earn an appraiser license. However, there are college-level education requirements for upgrading your license to become a certified real estate appraiser or a certified general appraiser. Check with your state licensing board to confirm education requirements in your state.

Do real estate appraiser trainees get paid?

Appraisal trainees should expect to make between $24,000 and $50,000 per year, depending on what region of the country they work in, previous work experience, skill set, and their level of education. You can always look at the available trainee jobs at Indeed to get an idea of what the salaries currently are in your area.

What is the best school for real estate appraisal training?

Check out our guide to the six best real estate appraiser training options for information on online course providers. We chose McKissock Learning as the best option because they offer required courses for most states that can be completed on your schedule. Click here to see a list of courses required by your state.

Bottom Line ― How to Become an Appraiser

To become a licensed real estate appraiser, you must complete training requirements and work under the supervision of a licensed appraiser. Once you apply for and earn your license, you can upgrade your license to become a certified residential or general appraiser, which enable you to inspect larger, more valuable properties. To learn more about specific licensing requirements, visit your state’s licensing board.

Quality education and mentorship are key factors for future success in the appraisal industry, so be sure to choose your education provider with attention to detail. McKissock Learning offers national and state-specific prelicensing, license upgrade, and continuing education courses to help appraisers at every stage of their career. Click here to get started.

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