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What are the appraisal categories and what types of properties can they appraise?

If you’re interested in becoming a real estate appraiser and want to know about your career path options, or you’re already an appraiser and ready for the next step, we’re breaking down the types of appraiser licenses and what you can do at each licensing level. We’re specifically using the minimum recommendations outlined by Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation, but it’s important to check with your state for specific requirements to achieve each type of appraisal license.

Four types of appraisal licenses

Trainee Appraiser

A Trainee Appraiser License is for someone just beginning their appraisal career. This license allows you to perform property appraisals, complete market and property research, and write reports under the guidance of a certified supervisory appraiser.

To become a trainee appraiser, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 75 hours of Qualifying Education
  • Complete a 4-hour Supervisor-Trainee Course
  • Find a supervisory appraiser
  • Pass a background check with your state board and apply for your license.

It’s important to note that a trainee license is not available in California, Colorado, Kansas, or Wisconsin. Instead, appraisers begin their career path by working toward becoming a Licensed Residential Appraiser.

Licensed Residential Appraiser

A Licensed Residential Appraiser is qualified to appraise non-complex one to four units having a transaction level less than $1,000,000 and complex one to four residential units having a transaction value less than $250,000. This classification does not include the appraisal of subdivisions. Examples of properties someone with this type of appraisal license may appraise include single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, or single-family homes with auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) or garage apartments.

To become a Licensed Residential Appraiser, most states require:

  • 75 additional hours of Qualifying Education (after the Trainee level, or 150 hours total)
  • 1,000 hours of supervised appraisal work
  • A passing score on the Licensed Residential Appraiser section of the National Uniform Licensed and Certified Exam
  • Pass a background check
  • Submit all fees to your state board along with your application

This appraisal license level is not available in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. Instead, appraisers will upgrade their license from Trainee to Certified Residential Appraiser. This option is also available in all states for appraisers who want a higher level of licensure.

Certified Residential Appraiser

Certified Residential Appraisers are qualified to appraise one to four residential units without any regard to value or complexity, though this doesn’t include appraising subdivisions.

To achieve this type of appraisal license, the AQB recommends:

  • 50 hours of Qualifying Education (after the Licensed Residential Appraiser level, or 200 hours total)
  • 1,500 hours of work experience within 12 months
  • A passing score on the Certified Residential section of the exam
  • Bachelor’s degree, associate degree, OR 30 college credit hours in specified areas of study

Those who have held a Licensed Residential credential for at least 5 years can also qualify for their Certified Residential license if they have not received any adverse, final, and non-appealable disciplinary action in the 5 years before applying for a Certified Residential credential.

As with the Licensed Residential and Certified General exams, the Certified Residential appraiser exam is 125 questions, of which 110 items are scored and the other 15 items are pretest questions that will not be scored. As a candidate, you are allowed up to 4 hours to take the 3 exams.

Certified General Appraiser

This is the highest appraiser license level, and those with their Certified General Appraiser license can appraise any type of real property, including apartment complexes, commercial properties, and single-family homes. To achieve this type of appraisal license, the AQB recommends:

  • 100 additional hours of Qualifying Education (after the Certified Residential Appraiser level, or 300 hours total)
  • 3,000 hours of appraisal work experience in 18 months, including 1,500 of qualified commercial appraisal work
  • A passing score on the Certified General section of the exam
  • Bachelor’s degree

Remember, each state has their own requirements you must fulfill, no matter what type of appraisal license you want to obtain. Also, you don’t necessarily have to follow a linear path of licensure. For example, you can go from Trainee to a Certified Residential or Certified General Appraiser as long as you fulfill the state minimum requirements.

Meet your appraisal career goals with McKissock

No matter whether you’re exploring an appraisal career and want to complete your Trainee Appraiser Qualifying Education or you need to maintain your appraisal continuing education credits, we have everything you need to meet your goals.

Find out what kind of salary you can expect with each type of appraisal license when you download our FREE 2023 Salary Guide.



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