How to Become an Appraiser in 5 Steps

Trainee appraiser looking around a home, learning how to become an appraiser through on-the-job experience

To become a licensed appraiser, most states require you to start out as an appraisal trainee and obtain a certain number of hours of experience before you can appraise real property on your own. Many states have different titles for trainees, such as apprentice appraiser or registered appraiser, and some states require you to have a college degree to be an appraiser, but some don’t. While it’s important to check the requirements in your individual state, this step-by-step guide walks you through the general steps on how to become an appraiser.

How to become an appraiser

Step 1: Complete appraisal pre-licensing courses

The first step toward becoming an appraiser is to complete and pass a minimum of 75 hours* of basic appraisal qualifying education, which includes three courses: Basic Appraisal Principles (30 hours), Basic Appraisal Procedures (30 hours), and National USPAP Course (15 hours). In addition, you will also need to complete a supervisor-trainee course.

Basic appraisal education courses

These are the minimum education requirements outlined by the Appraisal Qualifying Board (AQB), and education requirements vary by state. For example, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, and Wisconsin require more than 75 hours of qualifying education courses to become a trainee.

Step 2: Find an appraisal supervisor

Finding a certified supervisory appraiser to serve as a supervisor is the next required step to become an appraiser. You must find a certified appraisal supervisor who agrees to supervise your on-the-job training before you can apply for your trainee license.

Working under a certified supervisor will ensure that you learn the business and gain in-depth understanding of the appraisal process. You’ll work closely with them to get hands-on experience performing physical property inspections and completing research and reporting. 

Step 3: Apply to become a trainee

Once you’ve passed your basic pre-licensing coursework and have a supervisory appraiser, you’ll apply for your trainee license (sometimes called a registration or permit). Typically, the steps involved are:

1) Submit your application and fees to the state board
2) Submit your fingerprints and background check information
3) Receive your license or permit from your state’s board

Remember, steps and license are not the same in each state, so you’ll want to check your state for specific information or scroll down and click on your state below.

Step 4: Gain experience while completing remaining QE

With your trainee license in hand, you can begin working and earning money as a trainee appraiser. While gaining on-the-job experience under your supervisor, you’ll fulfill your remaining qualifying education requirements and get ready to take the national exam to become a Licensed Residential Appraiser, Certified Residential Appraiser, or Certified General Appraiser. 

Each licensing level has different education and experience requirements, and again, state requirements vary, too. To make it a bit easier to choose your path, we’ve outlined more detailed information in the table below.

Real property appraiser qualification criteria*

Classification Education Hours College Degree Requirements Experience Requirement
Trainee Appraiser 75 None None
Licensed Residential Appraiser 150 None 1,000 hours of acceptable appraisal experience in no fewer than 6 months
Certified Residential Appraiser 200 Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree in a focused field of study, successful completion of 30 college semester credit hours in specified topics or successful completion of CLEP exams 1,500 hours of acceptable appraisal experience in no fewer than 12 months
Certified General Appraiser 300 Bachelor’s degree or higher (in any field) from an accredited college or university 3,000 hours of experience in no fewer than 18 months (of which 1,500 hours must be in non-residential appraisal work)

* ​​Hours required include specific curriculum courses and hours — please see the Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria for details. Individual states may have stricter requirements.

Step 5: Pass the appraisal examination

Once you have your qualifying education and trainee hours under your belt, you will need to pass the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam as the final step toward becoming a licensed or certified real estate appraiser. You must pass the national exam to obtain your appraisal license beyond the trainee level.

There are three different exams—one for each license level:

  • Licensed Residential Examination
  • Certified Residential Examination
  • Certified General Examination

Each level has different education and experience requirements as well as college-level course requirements.

Once you’ve obtained the credential of Licensed Appraiser, Certified Residential Appraiser, or Certified General Appraiser, you can begin to work independently without a supervisor.

Click on the links below to find more info about the appraisal licensing requirements in your state:


An appraiser’s career path

When researching how to become an appraiser, you’ll want to consider which appraisal license level is right for you. Each level requires you to develop new skills that allow you to appraise different property types. The four federal appraiser classifications are:

appraiser career path graphic | how to become an appraiser

You don’t have to follow a linear progression to upgrade your license from Trainee Appraiser to another level. In fact, you can choose to upgrade from Trainee directly to Certified General, or upgrade incrementally to each license level. It’s really up to you.

Here’s what you can appraise at each license level:

Licensed Residential Appraiser
  • Non-complex 1-4 residential units with a transaction value of less than $1 million (subject to individual state laws)
  • Complex 1-4 residential units with a transaction value of less than $250,000 (subject to individual state laws)
Certified Residential Appraiser
  • 1-4 residential units without regard to complexity or transaction value (subject to individual state laws)
Certified General Appraiser
  • All types of real estate, from strip malls to airports

The higher the license level, the more advantage you’ll have in the local market, and the greater control you’ll have over your fees.

The future of home appraiser training

In recent years, there have been efforts to make the appraisal profession more accessible to a younger and more diverse population, and to achieve that, the AQB made some of their appraiser training and education requirements less stringent. While specific requirements vary by state, in general it is now easier than ever to pursue this career path.

In addition, the AQB created the Practical Applications of Real Estate Appraisal (PAREA) program in 2020 as an alternative to the traditional supervisor-and-trainee model for gaining appraisal experience. The PAREA program uses virtual technology to offer practical experience through real-world simulations. Virtual training programs like PAREA could represent the future of home appraiser training.

Take the first step to become an appraiser

Looking for flexible learning options? You can take your appraisal qualifying education courses completely online through an accredited appraisal school, such as McKissock. McKissock offers students two types of 100% online education: self-paced and livestream.

Self-paced allows students to complete the qualifying education courses at their own pace, on their own time, while livestream mirrors a classroom setting in which students learn from an instructor live and in real-time. Both enable students to learn from the comfort of their home or office. All you need is a computer or smart device and an internet connection, and you’ll be on your way.

Check your state’s appraisal licensing website to research how long it takes to become an appraiser in your state.

Want more information on how to become an appraiser? Learn more with our free career guide.

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