Do You Need a College Degree to Become an Appraiser?

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Looking for a career that doesn’t necessarily require a college degree? Consider becoming a real estate appraiser. Before you jump in, you probably have questions like, “What education and training are required?” and “Do you need a college degree to get licensed?” and “How much money can you make as an appraiser?” In this post, we provide answers to these questions and more.

What are the requirements to become an appraiser?

To become a licensed real estate appraiser, you must pass the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam. Before you can take the exam, you’ll need to meet the AQB’s qualifying education requirements for the specific license level you wish to obtain. The minimum requirements set by the AQB are summarized in table below. However, please note that individual states may have stricter requirements.

Real property appraiser qualification criteria*

Do you need a college degree to become an appraiser?
* Hours required include specific curriculum courses and hours — please see the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria for details. Individual states may have stricter requirements.

Do you need a college degree?

It depends on the state in which you wish to become licensed. According to the minimum requirements set by the AQB (shown in the chart above), Trainee Appraisers and Licensed Residential Appraisers are not required to have a college degree. However, some states have stricter requirements.

In the state of Tennessee, for example, you can get started as a Trainee Appraiser without any college education under your belt. However, you must have an Associate’s Degree or higher (or 30 college credit hours covering specific subject matter) before you can earn the Licensed Residential Appraiser credential in Tennessee.

Alabama is an example of a state where you do not need a college degree or any college-level education to become a Trainee Appraiser or Licensed Residential Appraiser.

Click on the links below to find more info about the appraisal licensing requirements in your state, including the college education requirements for different license levels:


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What if you want to upgrade your license further?

To become a Certified Residential Appraiser, you do not need to possess a Bachelor’s degree. You may alternatively satisfy specific college-level education requirements by:

  1. Possessing a Bachelor’s degree in any field of study
  2. Possessing an Associate’s degree in focused fields of study
  3. Successful completion of 30 semester hours of college-level courses in specific topic areas and hours
  4. Successful completion of 30 semester hours of CLEP examinations in specified subject matter areas
  5. Or any combination of #3 and #4 above that includes all of the topics identified

To obtain the Certified General Appraiser level, you must possess a Bachelor’s degree or higher in any field of study.

How much do appraisers make?

A survey reported in the 2020-2021 Appraisal Income Guide shows that an appraiser’s annual earnings depend on many different factors. One of the biggest factors impacting potential income is license level. The higher the license level, the more appraisers earn.

On average, Certified Residential Appraisers earn $2,500 more than Licensed Appraisers. Certified General Appraisers (a.k.a. commercial appraisers) earn nearly $18,000 more than Certified Residential Appraisers. That’s a big jump in yearly income each time you upgrade your appraisal license.

However, keep in mind that the income chart above shows the nationwide average. There are Certified Residential Appraisers who make more than Certified General Appraisers; it depends on the market and type of appraisals completed. Some Certified Residential Appraisers make six-figure salaries. Download the 2020-2021 Appraisal Income Guide to learn more.

So, do you need a college degree to become an appraiser? It depends on the licensing requirements in your state. In some states, you can launch a career in the appraisal industry without any higher education under your belt.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on October 20, 2020 and updated on July 8, 2022.

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