Only 42% of the 78,000 state-credentialed appraisers in the United States are certified general appraisers. If you’re growing tired of appraising simple properties or you’re ready to take on more complex assignments with more income potential, it may be a good time to upgrade your appraisal license. An upgrade can give you a much-needed advantage in the local market. It can also give you greater control over your fees and more stability in your work.
An appraiser’s career path
Once you have your appraisal qualifying education and trainee hours under your belt, you’ll want to consider which license level is right for you. Each level requires you to develop new skills that allow you to appraise different types of properties.
You don’t have to follow a linear progression to upgrade. 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.
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Why upgrade your appraisal license?
Since 1990 we’ve helped over 15,000 appraisers upgrade their appraisal license. Along the way, they’ve shared why they chose to upgrade. The most common response is that, with each appraisal license level you upgrade, you’ll usually see your earnings increase. In 2019, certified general appraisers’ average salary was 22% more than certified residential appraisers’ average salary.
- Certified residential appraiser average salary: $71,667
- Certified general appraiser average salary: $87,685
David Wimpelberg, president of Peconic County Appraisal Service (Mastic Beach, New York), specializes in the five eastern towns in Suffolk County (i.e., the eastern portion of Long Island). He says that in his market, the mixture of high-end residential, land, and commercial property favors the certified general appraiser. He notes that he has found many more opportunities to obtain assignments since he got that license.
Because Wimpelberg works in the Hamptons, he is accustomed to appraising a lot of higher-value residential properties that bring in good fees.
“But if your business is mainly cookie-cutter residential, getting a certified general license can represent a substantial boost in your income and an expansion of your base,” says Wimpelberg. “A lender might be looking at an investment that involves multiple properties, or a mix of residential and commercial, and might handle the transaction through its commercial lending department—which would naturally assign the job to a general appraiser.
“The fees that come through the commercial department may be higher than you’d get from the residential department, and you’ll have a chance at assignments you wouldn’t even have known about otherwise. Recently a lender’s commercial department needed a portfolio of residential properties appraised, so they sent me 14 appraisal orders that I would never have seen if I’d been a Residential Appraiser.”
Resources and helpful info to upgrade your appraisal license
McKissock Learning enables appraisers and real estate agents to maintain their licenses and achieve more in their careers through innovative courses, webinars, and job aids. You can upgrade your appraisal license, enroll in USPAP, and complete your continuing education courses with us. Plus, build skills to advance your career with our series of appraisal professional development courses.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on February 18, 2022.