Certified general appraiser using a digital tablet during on-site inspection of commercial building.

How to Become a Certified General Appraiser


Certified general appraisers, also known as commercial appraisers, are the highest earners in the appraisal profession. As a certified general appraiser, you will enjoy more stable fees, a higher income, and more choices in the assignments you decide to take on. Are you growing tired of appraising simple properties? Are you looking for more complex assignments with higher income potential? Here’s how to become a certified general appraiser.

Is now a good time to upgrade your appraisal license? Download our free salary guide to find out.

What is a certified general appraiser?

A certified general appraiser, or commercial appraiser, can appraise all types of real estate—including both residential and commercial properties. That includes everything from single-family homes to apartment complexes, strip malls, and airports. The certified general appraiser credential is the highest license level you can achieve as a real property appraiser. You must obtain this credential if you wish to appraise commercial properties.

How much do certified general appraisers make?

According to recent income data, certified general appraisers earned an average annual income of $145,094 in 2022, making them the highest earners compared to all other license levels. They earned 42% more than certified residential appraisers, on average, in 2022. That’s a big salary increase. Additionally, 44% of certified general appraisers earned more in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Average real estate appraiser salary by license type

Benefits of upgrading your appraisal license

In addition to a higher income, a higher appraisal license level gives you:

  • An advantage in your local market
  • Greater control over your fees
  • More stability in your work
  • More choices in the assignments you decide to take on

As a certified general appraiser, you can shield your income from the ups and downs of the real estate market, and you don’t have to compete for smaller residential assignments. You can appraise complex properties, luxury real estate, commercial real estate, and everything in between.

Steps to become a certified general appraiser

Depending on your state, the exact steps to upgrade your appraisal license will vary slightly. However, these are the general guidelines you’ll need to meet the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) criteria to become a certified general appraiser:

  • 300 education hours
    • Hours required include specific curriculum course and hours—please see the Real Property Qualification Criteria for details
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher (in any field)
    • Must be from an accredited college or university
  • 3,000 hours of experience in no fewer than 30 months
    • 1,500 of these hours must be in non-residential appraisal work

Note that state appraiser regulatory agencies may set requirements that are higher (i.e., more stringent) than AQB criteria. Make sure you check your state’s specific licensing requirements to know precisely what you need to do.

Once you’ve completed the required education and experience hours, you can sit for the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam. You will need to pass the exam and apply for your upgraded license as the final step toward becoming a certified general appraiser.

Getting started

You can complete all the courses you need to upgrade your license to certified general appraiser right here at McKissock. We provide access to top instructors in the field, flexible course formats and membership options, state- and board-approved materials, and more resources to elevate your career and give you a competitive edge. McKissock’s Education Specialists can help you understand all of the requirements you need to meet for upgrading your license. Call us at 877.204.1039.

Editor’s note: This post was updated in October, 2023.