How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser

It’s said that the sale price on a piece of real estate can be whatever the market will bear.

While that is true in the abstract per the law of supply and demand, a licensed real estate appraiser has several hours of training and many hours of trainee work to meet their goal of being an independent real estate appraiser.


You will need to take a minimum of 30 hours of coursework to start your training as a real estate appraiser. Be aware that the licensing for this work is regulated by the state in which you are licensed. If your state requires you to take more coursework or specialize in a particular field, such as:

  • condos
  • apartment buildings
  • commercial properties
  • farm ground
  • single family dwellings

you will likely need more training before you can start your trainee work, which you must complete before you can apply for your certification to allow you to work as a certified appraiser of real estate in your state of residence.

The first 30 hours of schooling will include:

  • title work
  • legal descriptions
  • creating contracts
  • financing and your legal requirements
  • economic principles as related to real estate
  • market study
  • ethics training

Once you finish your initial schooling and start your trainee appraisal work, you will need to take CPE courses to maintain your licensure. If you are not interested in going back to school for the long term, carefully review the requirements in your state before you start. Your home state could require more schooling than you are interested in.

Read more: How to Bird Dog Real Estate

After the Coursework

Once you have completed the coursework, you will need to log 1,000 hours of trainee work. Again, be aware that your state may require more than 30 hours of training. Why does this matter?

Getting in your 30 hours of trainee appraisal work will be tough; finding an appraisal company or a bank that will hire you as a trainee may be challenging. Additionally, if you don’t have a local real estate appraisal professional in your area and you end up working for a bank, your ability to get in the trainee hours you need may take more time.

If you don’t finish up all the required coursework before you start the trainee work, you may waste your trainee time.

At the end of your schooling and your 1,000 hours of training, you can become a Licensed Residential Appraiser. There are top limits to the dollar amounts of properties that you can apply for.

Before you take on a larger project for a client, make sure that you are not pushing against the edge of your dollar limits. A Licensed Residential Appraisal certification may be put at risk if you over extend your expertise and skills.

For properties considered non-complex residential properties, such as those that are not atypical in terms of:

  • size
  • house features
  • age
  • yard features, including view

a Licensed Residential Appraiser can value up to a million dollars. Any properties that fall out of the typical range for the neighborhood can be valued up to $250,000. Stay within the range to protect your licensing.

Read more: 8 Best Investments to Get Regular Monthly Income 

Getting Certified

Once you are a Licensed Residential Appraiser and have experience that totals at least 1,500 hours of appraisal work, you can look into becoming a Certified Appraiser. Be aware that getting your Certified status means that you need a total of 200 hours of coursework and at least 30 hours of college-level education. The training that you took to start your trainee work will count against those 200 hours of required coursework.

If you are not able to fulfill these extra hours of education, you can still find work as an appraiser. However, you will be constrained by the dollar amounts listed above. Additionally, you may lose private work opportunities from banks because banks tend to prefer Certified Appraisers.

For those who have done appraisal work for banks, it is a good idea to review the appraisers that your favorite bank prefers to hire. If you can justify the cost of the training and have time to take the college coursework, getting your Certification can greatly improve your work options.

Again, make sure you check your state requirements. If you already have some college coursework under your belt and you are interested in getting your certification, you can find ways to finance the additional coursework and pay it off with the additional income you make once you bump up your certification.

Read more: How to Make $50K Per Year From Your Home

How Much Can You Make as a Real Estate Appraiser

You must get in at least 30 hours of training before you can get work as a trainee appraiser. Once you get your coursework done, you can get paid as you build up your trainee hours and get your status as a Licensed Appraiser.

It’s important to note that getting out of the “going to school” mindset is a lot easier than getting into it in the first place. If you have worked with a Certified Appraiser and they are inclined to mentor or teach you, ask for:

  • guidance on the next round of training
  • access to their documentation and coursework
  • recommendations on time management

Going to school as an adult means that you may have to work around your spouse’s schedule, your parent’s medical needs, and your child’s chickenpox. It won’t be easy. Working with someone who has already been through the process can give you time management skills and hope to keep working toward the light at the end of your professional tunnel.

If you have the financial flexibility to work as a private contractor, consider getting your Certified status before you go out on your own. You can contract out with several banks in your region and may even be able to work for private lenders.

There are also appraisal firms that will split the payout for the appraisal with a Certified appraiser. For those who need a salary they can count on, a Licensed Appraiser can make up to $85,000 per year, depending on the value of the homes and the number of appraisals you can do each month.

Read more: Can You Live Off of Real Estate Income?

The Work Itself

Once you get your schooling work done and get hired as a trainee, you will need to be able to:

  • get out in the field
  • stay flexible
  • work autonomously

If you are working in the field gathering data, you will need to get good at documenting your arrival time, documenting what you did, and documenting when you left the site. For many trainees, your pay may be a combination of per project valuation and hourly time. Make sure your employer knows how you spend your time when you leave the office until you have built up the trust necessary to back off your tracking a bit.

Appraisers have ethical benchmarks to hit and training they must complete. However, if you are ready to expand your income and experience in the world of real estate, getting your appraisal Licensing and Certifications can allow you to be involved in an industry that can quickly get more lucrative.

Read more: How to Buy Your First Rental Property

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