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How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser – A Step-by-Step Guide

Last updated on September 11, 2023

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser - A Step-by-Step Guide

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Thinking of becoming a real estate appraiser, but confused about how to get there? 

We hear you.

Because we know: it can get confusing. 

There are courses to take. Exams to sit through. Applications to file. 

So if you’re looking for a complete step-by-step guide on how to become a real estate appraiser…

…you’ve come to the right place. 

In this blog you’ll learn:

  • Exactly what a real estate appraiser does 
  • The pros and cons of becoming a real estate appraiser 
  • How much you can earn as a real estate appraiser 
  • How to become a real estate appraiser, step by step
  • And more


Let’s dive right in. 

Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Appraiser: What’s the Difference?

Think real estate agents and appraisers do the same thing?

They don’t.

In fact, aside from the phrase “real estate,” these two careers are as different as night and day.

On the one hand, a real estate agent is a person who brings buyers and sellers together. 

On the other, a real estate appraiser is a person who puts value on a property. 

While an agent is hired by individual buyers, an appraiser is hired by banks, lenders, or sellers, to help put a fair estimate on how much a piece of property is worth.

Check out Investopedia’s definition of the term “real estate appraiser.”

Source: investopedia.com

So as a real estate appraiser, your job will be to carry out inspections on properties and come up with a fair price based on size, location, quality, and other factors. 

Is Becoming a Real Estate Appraiser Worth It? (The Pros and Cons of Being an Appraiser) 

Dreaming of becoming a real estate appraiser?

Sure, it’s an excellent career with huge opportunities in store for ambitious, hard-working people. 

But it’s all sunshine and roses. 

So before you quit your job and dive into the seemingly mouthwatering career of an appraiser, check out these pros and cons.

The Pros of Becoming a Real Estate Appraiser

  • Real estate appraisal is predicted to become a $9.4 billion industry this year.

Source: ibisworld.com

  • The average earning of a real estate appraiser is $61,000 a year. On the high end, this number jumps up to $90,000 a year.

Source: payscale.com

  • Real estate appraisers don’t have to stick to the nine to five rat race, as they get to work independently and create their own work schedules. 
  • As a real estate appraiser, you can enjoy a dynamic lifestyle which includes travel, meeting a lot of new people, and taking part in different experiences (as opposed to a more static office job).

The Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Appraiser

  • It takes work to get to the top. In general, your earnings will be on the low end (around $39,000 a year) for about 12 months after beginning your new career.
  • It takes time to find a Certified Appraiser who’ll take you on as a trainee. Before you can work independently, you’ll need to complete 1,000 hours as a real estate appraiser trainee. However, finding an appraiser to be your trainer isn’t always a walk in the park. 
  • You can’t rely on a set income. If you’re the kind of person who likes the stability of a monthly paycheck, don’t become a real estate appraiser. This is because your income will depend on how much you work and how many banks, lenders, sellers, and buyers hire you. (Note: If income stability is a must for you, you can work as a full-time appraiser for a bank or lending company.) 
stepbystep Inforgraphic

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser: The 5-Step Process

Think the challenging, lucrative career of a real estate appraiser is the one for you?

Here’s how to get to your goals, step-by-step.

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser Step #1: Know the Minimum Requirements You Need (Plus Your State’s Requirements)

For the minimum requirements you need to become a real estate appraiser, check out The Appraisal Qualifications Board’s Real Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria

The criteria lists how many hours of coursework you need to complete, plus other requirements. 

Here’s an idea of the coursework you’ll need to complete for your minimum requirement as a trainee: 

  • 30 hours of Basic Appraisal Principles
  • 30 hours of Basic Appraisal Procedures 
  • 15 hours of National Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice

Remember, you may need extra requirements depending on which state you’re in.

Check out this page to learn more about specific state requirements. 

Looking for a school that offers the basic real estate appraisal courses, both online and through live stream?

Here are two we recommend:

  • McKissock Learning. This school offers both online courses and livestream packages. It has all the basic courses you need, plus additional courses for upgrading your license. Best of all, it has special packages for each state, allowing you to customize your learning based on where you live. 
  • VanEd. This school offers online classes and an educational environment that appeals to all learning styles, which allows our students to achieve high levels of success on the real estate exam and throughout their professional careers.  

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser Step #2: Apply to Work with a Supervisory Appraiser 

As mentioned earlier, you can’t dive right into the life of a real estate appraiser. 

First, you’ll need to complete time working with a supervisory appraiser. (This is after you’ve successfully completed your coursework.) 

This licensed appraiser will supervise all your work, and later give approval of your application for license. 

Another thing to note is that your time working under a supervisor won’t be brief. 

You’re required to complete 1,000 hours as a trainee, and finish it in no more than six months. 

This means you’ll need to work approximately 40 hours a week to complete your supervised hours in the required time. 

This equates to working a full-time job, but remember that it won’t last forever. 

If you’ve set your heart on becoming an appraiser, your hard work will soon pay off. 

Note: To find a supervisory appraiser, you can check out sites like LinkedIn or Indeed.

You can also go to The Appraisal Foundation to search out appraisal sponsors. 

Appraisal sponsor

Source: appraisalfoundation.org

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser Step #3: Complete the Required Appraiser Coursework to Prepare You for the Exams

Completed your 1,000 hours under a supervisory appraiser?


Now it’s time to complete your coursework, so you can go on and take the exams for your real estate appraiser license. 

According to AQB, here are the minimum required courses you’ll need to take:

  • 15 hours of Residential Market Analysis and Highest Best Use
  • 15 hours of Residential Appraiser Site Valuation and Cost Approach
  • 30 hours of Residential Sales Comparison and Income Approaches
  • 15 hours of Residential Report Writing and Case Studies

Remember that these are the minimum requirements, and you’ll need to check with your state for additional ones. 

As with the basic courses, you can buy these individually at McKissock. Or you can subscribe to their unlimited learning plan and get access to all their courses and tools. 

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser Step #4: Take the Licensed Residential Exam

Now that all your required courses, plus your 1,000 hours working with a supervisory appraiser, are completed…

…it’s time to register to take the Licensed Residential Exam. 

To start, reach out to your state’s local advisory board to register. 

After you’ve registered, make sure to spend some time practicing first!

The exam is long, often running to 125 questions, and includes everything you studied in your coursework.

The organization you took your courses with will probably have practice tests, which are a good idea to take if you want to give yourself every chance of passing. 

When you’re ready, you can take your exam at a proctored site, or online with someone monitoring you through a webcam.

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser Step #5: Apply to Become a Licensed Residential Appraiser 

Passed your exam?


It’s time to celebrate with some champagne. 

After you’ve danced around your living room, however, you’ll need to go on to the next step: 

Apply to become a licensed residential appraiser. 

To do so, you’ll need to submit your application to your state’s licensing board. 


You can now go on to do appraisals on your own and start living the life you’ve always dreamed of. 

Note: Want to take your real estate appraiser career to the next level?

You should consider becoming a Certified Residential Appraiser. 

This type of license is different, and allows you to work on more complex cases.

Of course, you’ll need to complete additional coursework and take another exam.

But if you love the real estate appraiser business and want bigger success, this is the surefire way to get there.

How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser: The Basics

Wondering how to become a real estate appraiser?

Sure, it can get hard.

Go online, and you’ll be bombarded with a ton of contradicting advice. 

But don’t worry.

The road towards your dreams isn’t really that long and winding.

The first step, of course, is to just get started.

Find a good online school like McKissock to complete your basic coursework.

Jump on LinkedIn or a similar site to find an appraiser to sponsor you, checking all the work you do for 1,000 hours.

Complete your remaining coursework, then take your exam.

Apply for your license…

…and voila! 

You’ll be ready to start valuing property on your own.

You’ll be on your way to a lucrative, exciting, promising career.

Image credits:

All screenshots taken by the author, January 2021. 

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