How to Become an Appraiser in 5 Steps

How to Become an Appraiser in 5 Steps

To become an 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. 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.


To earn your real estate appraiser license, the five steps are:

  1. Complete your appraisal qualifying education
  2. Connect with a supervisor appraiser
  3. Apply with your state board for your trainee license
  4. Gain experience with your supervisor while completing additional qualifying education
  5. Pass the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam

Learn more about the details of each step below.

How to Become an Appraiser

Step 1: Complete appraisal pre-licensing courses

National course requirements to become a real estate appraiser are set by the Appraiser Qualifications Board, yet the specifics with regard to training to earn a license varies by state.

The first step toward becoming a real estate 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)
  • National USPAP Course (15 hours)
Pie chart of basic appraisal education courses | How to become a real estate appraiser

In addition, you will also need to complete a supervisor-trainee course.

These are the minimum education requirements outlined by the Appraisal Qualifying Board (AQB) to earn your appraiser certification, 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. 

Plan on working alongside your supervising appraiser for between six months and two years depending on your state.

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, the 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, as does each state. 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*

ClassificationEducation HoursCollege Degree RequirementsExperience Requirement
Trainee Appraiser75NoneNone
Licensed Residential Appraiser150None1,000 hours of acceptable appraisal experience in no fewer than 6 months
Certified Residential Appraiser200Bachelor’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 exams1,500 hours of acceptable appraisal experience in no fewer than 12 months
Certified General Appraiser300Bachelor’s degree or higher (in any field) from an accredited college or university3,000 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 real estate appraiser 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:



























New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota





Puerto Rico

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota



US Virgin Islands





Washington DC

West Virginia



An Appraiser’s Career Path

When researching how to become a real estate 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 real estate appraiser 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 bigger the 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.

FAQs about Earning Your Real Estate Appraiser License

How do I find an appraiser supervisor?

If you have a certified appraiser in your network, such as a friend or family member, they can serve as your supervisor to help you meet your experience hours. If not, you can also contact banks and real estate companies, check job boards to search for companies hiring trainee appraisers, or begin networking to connect with possible supervisors.

Dive deeper into how to find a supervisor.

Do I need a college degree to become an appraiser?

Whether or not you need a college degree depends on two factors: where you live and what level of licensing you want to obtain.

The Appraisal Qualifying Board (AQB) sets the minimum education prerequisites for each level:

  • Trainee appraiser: No college degree is required.
  • Licensed residential appraiser: No college degree is required.
  • Certified residential appraiser: The AQB requires a bachelor’s degree, associate degree in an approved field, or 30 college semester credit hours in specific topics or completion of CLEP exams.
  • Certified general appraiser (or commercial appraiser): A bachelor’s degree or higher in any field is required.

However, individual states may have stricter requirements. For example, Alabama follows the AQB prerequisites, but Indiana requires certified residential appraisers to have a bachelor’s degree.

Do I need a real estate appraiser license to appraise houses?

Yes. In all 50 states, you are required to obtain some level of real estate appraiser license or certification before you can appraise homes. As an appraisal trainee, you can appraise houses only under the supervision of a supervisor. Once you advance to the level of licensed residential appraiser, certified residential appraiser, or certified general appraiser, you can appraise houses independently.

Explore the average appraiser salary for each license level.

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 a real estate appraiser? Explore our free career guide.