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Appraisers and Assessors Of Real Estate - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Many appraisers and assessors choose to become a designated member of a regional or nationally recognized appraiser or assessor association. Designations are a way for appraisers or assessors to establish themselves in the profession, and are recognizable credentials to show employers and potential clients a higher level of education and experience. Obtaining a designation usually requires 5 to 10 years of training and experience, which is more than the minimum licensing requirements. Many appraisal associations have a membership category specifically for trainees, who then can receive full membership after licensure. Since States differ greatly on the requirements to become an assessor, licensure is not necessarily required for membership or designations; however, the imposed designation qualifications tend to be very stringent.

Advancement within the occupation comes with experience. The higher the level of appraiser licensure, for example, the higher the fees an independent fee appraiser may charge. Staying in one particular region or focusing on one type of appraising specialty also will help to establish one's business, reputation, and expertise. Assessors often have a career progression within their office, starting as a trainee and eventually ending up appointed or elected as a senior appraiser or supervisor.

In 2008, appraisers and assessors of real estate held about 92,400 jobs. About 27 percent were self-employed; virtually all were appraisers. Employment was concentrated in areas with high levels of real estate activity, such as major metropolitan areas. Assessors are more uniformly spread throughout the country than appraisers because every locality has at least one assessor.

About 29 percent of appraisers and assessors worked in local government; nearly all were assessors. Another 31 percent, mainly appraisers, worked for real estate firms.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow more slowly than the average. Job opportunities should be best in areas with active real estate markets, and most job openings will result from the need to replace appraisers and assessors who retire or otherwise leave the occupation permanently.

Job Growth
Employment of appraisers and assessors of real estate is expected to grow more slowly than the average over the 2008-18 decade, increasing by 5 percent. Demand for appraisal services is strongly tied to the real estate market, which can fluctuate in the short term. Over the long term, employment growth will be driven by economic expansion and population increases—factors that generate demand for real property. However, employment will be held down to a certain extent by productivity increases brought about by the increased use of computers and other technologies, which allow appraisers and assessors to deal with more properties. The increased use of automated valuation models to conduct appraisals for mortgage purposes might also shift work away from appraisers.

Most job openings will result from the need to replace appraisers and assessors who retire or otherwise leave the occupation permanently. Employment opportunities should be best in areas with active real estate markets. Although opportunities for established certified appraisers are expected to be available in these areas, aspiring entrants to this occupation may have difficulty locating a trainee position because traditional sources of training positions, such as real estate offices and financial institutions, increasingly prefer not to take on new trainees.

The cyclical nature of the real estate market will have a direct effect on the job prospects of appraisers, especially those who appraise residential properties. In times of recession, fewer people buy or sell real estate, causing a decrease in the demand for appraisers. As a result, opportunities will be best for appraisers who are able to switch specialties and appraise different types of properties.

Because assessors are needed in every local or State jurisdiction to make assessments for property tax purposes regardless of the state of the local economy, assessors generally are less affected by economic and real estate market fluctuations than are appraisers.

Median annual wages of appraisers and assessors of real estate were $47,370 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,330 and $66,640. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,680. Median annual wages of those working for local governments were $43,550. Median annual wages of those working in activities related to real estate were $47,890. Earnings for independent-fee appraisers can vary significantly because they are paid fees on a per appraisal basis.

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