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I talked to a few people who are considering to become a real estate appraiser. Some of them are new graduates who are about to enter the workforce, while some are working in another field but are looking for a career change. Most of them know that they would need to take appraisal courses and pass the exam to obtain the State appraiser license. However, they are confused about whether there is a post-secondary education requirement.
Do you need a college degree to be a real estate appraiser? Generally speaking, a certified real estate appraiser is required to have a college degree. However, depending on the level of appraiser license you are pursuing, some alternative education routes may replace the college degree requirement.
According to a 2019 study from the Appraisal Institute, a majority of appraisers have college-level education or higher. But I suspect this is just an overall trend in our society. They probably have a degree before they even joined the appraisal industry.
In this post, I’ll go over in depth the college education requirement for each appraiser license level, what do existing appraisers think of this requirement, and the changes that the Appraisal Qualification Board has implemented. I hope you’ll find them helpful!
College Degree Requirement for Each Level of Appraiser License
Most states would have four levels of appraiser licenses. They are the Trainee Appraiser, Licensed Residential Appraiser, Certified Residential Appraiser, and Certified General Appraiser. (I have written articles for each license level, you could click on these links to read them.)
For Trainee Appraiser and Licensed Residential Appraiser, there is no college degree requirement.
For a Certified General Appraiser, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
The most variable is on the Certified Residential Appraiser. There are six routes to fulfill the education requirement, you just need to choose one of the following below:
- Bachelor’s Degree or higher
- Associates Degree related to Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Finance or Real Estate
- Complete 30 semester hours of college-level courses that cover each of the following subject and hours:
• Algebra, Geometry, or Higher Math (3 hours)
• Business Law or Real Estate Law(3 hours)
• Computer Science (3 hours)
• English Composition (3 hours)
• Finance (3 hours)
• Macroeconomics(3 hours)
• Microeconomics (3 hours)
• Statistics (3 hours)
• Two elective courses in any of the above topics, or Accounting, Agricultural Economics, Business Management, Geography, or Real Estate (3 hours each)
- Complete at least 30 semester hours of College Level Examination Program®(CLEP®) examinations
- Any combination of Option #3 and Option #4 that includes all of the topics listed in Option #3
- The college-level education requirement can be waived if you have been a licensed residential appraiser for at least five years, while your license has been remaining in good standing.
These are the guidelines outlined by the AQB, but each state could impose an additional requirement. For instance, you need to hold an Associate Degree or higher, or completed 30 semester hours courses to become a Licensed Residential Appraiser in North Dakota. In Montana, you are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher to become a Certified Residential Appraiser. Click here to check out the license requirement in your state.
Most appraiser designations require college/bachelor’s degree
To pursue the appraisal career to a higher level, many appraisers would obtain a professional designation – for instance, the MAI designation is a credential that many are going after. It is a credential being highly recognized by clients who demand sophisticated appraisal work, and it’s offered by the Appraisal Institute (AI). To obtain such a designation, AI does require you to hold a college/bachelor’s degree.
(If you want to know more about the MAI designation, here’s an article you could be interested)
What do Real Estate Appraisers Think about the College Degree Requirement?
I asked several appraisers. Although some of them believe having a college/university degree could improve the professionalism of the industry, many find this requirement impractical and unnecessary.
I also agree with the latter view. Having a higher education, of course, is always a great thing to do. But when the knowledge has absolutely nothing related to appraisal, I don’t see how will this benefits the overall industry or the clients.
For example, some states would require you to hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher to become a certified appraiser. Ironically, there is no requirement for what major it needs to be.
I could understand the option where you need to complete college-level courses such as math, business law, real estate law, finance, economics. At least, these classes are more relevant to appraisal.
Rather than taking these courses, an applicant could hold a degree in a random major subject. So a person who holds a degree in Drama fulfill the college requirement, but what does it have to do with an appraisal?
I was reading a post from the Appraiser Coach, Dustin Harris. Although he is holding both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree, he also questioned the necessity of this college degree requirement.
“It is just one more arbitrary step that one must take before they can be crowned with the reward of being called an appraiser.”Quote from The Appraiser Coach Blog
Some states are taking a more lenient approach, where one could skip the college requirement to become a Certified Residential Appraiser if they have been a Licensed Residential Appraiser for at least 5 years. However, some states still have a rigid rule on this matter, which makes it impossible for appraisers to become certified without completing post-secondary education.
There Had Been Significant Changes to the College-Level Education Requirement
As you may have noticed, there is a shortage of real property appraiser throughout the U.S. To encourage more people in joining the industry, on May 1st, 2018, the Appraisal Qualification Board (AQB) has lowered the bar for licensee about the post-secondary education requirement.
Before the changes, the applicant was required to have completed 30 semester hours of college-level education to become a Licensed Residential Appraiser. Now, the AQB has waived the college-level education requirement for this license type.
On the other hand, there used to be the requirement for Certified Residential Appraiser in holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Currently, you have the six routes (the one we just went through) to fulfill the post-secondary school requirement.
1) Can I complete the college-level education from any school?
No. The institution must be recognized by the accreditation board.
- For Bachelor’s degree or higher, it must be obtained from an accredited college or university.
- For an Associate’s degree or higher, it must be obtained from an accredited college, junior college, community college, or university.
2) Besides fulfilling the college-level education requirement, are there any appraisal courses I need to take?
Yes, you’ll need to complete the qualifying appraiser classes. According to the AQB requirement, you’ll need to complete the following:
- 75 hours of appraisal courses – trainee
- 150 hours of appraisal courses – licensed residential appraiser
- 200 hours of appraisal courses – certified residential appraiser
- 300 hours of appraisal courses – certified general appraiser
To maintain the professionalism of the appraisal industry, I agree that real estate appraisers should meet a certain level of education. However, this is only given if the education requirement can enhance appraisal knowledge of the licensee.
Before the rule changes, regardless of how much experience a Licensed Residential Appraiser has, they cannot upgrade the license in becoming a Certified Residential Appraiser unless they hold a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher. However, they could do that if they hold a degree in Music. I just could not see the logic behind the randomness of these college education requirements.
Fortunately, the rule was revised in 2018, so that licensed appraisers have the opportunity in upgrading their license through their hard-earned experience in the appraisal field.
If there is really a need of higher education standard for new applicants, rather than setting a random demand for college-level education, the AQB could consider having the licensee to take more appraisal or real estate related courses.
Interested in becoming a real estate appraiser? Here is an Education Resources Page which could be helpful to you in getting the appraiser license.
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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change anytime without notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. For full and exact details, please contact the Appraisal Board in your state, the education or service provider.