There are an estimated 75,100 licensed appraisers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they come from many different backgrounds. People decide to launch a real estate appraisal career because they’re following in a family member’s footsteps or they’re intent on building a career in a field they love, as well as one that pays well and has a flexible schedule.
Top reasons people enjoy a real estate appraisal career
Appraisers share the following as the top reasons they enjoy the appraisal profession:
- Potential to earn a high income
- Opportunity to work flexible hours
- Low startup costs compared to other small businesses
- Opportunity to take on complex and challenging assignments
- Diverse career paths and specializations
“As a kid, I drew floor plans for some of the properties my dad was appraising. I like the freedom to take on your own assignments, and earn as much as you can by taking on as much work as you can,” says John R., a commercial and residential appraiser in Washington D.C.
A day in the life of an appraiser
Every piece of real property, from a two-bedroom condo to a 500-acre alfalfa farm, has a value. It’s an appraiser’s job to offer a written opinion of that value, which lenders, insurers, property owners and buyers, and divorce and estate attorneys need to do their jobs.
The nuts and bolts of appraising a property can include:
- Researching county and municipal public property records
- Diagramming or photographing a property and its structures
- Inspecting the property to determine its condition and improvements
- Analyzing comparables, or similar nearby properties, to develop value conclusions
- Preparing written reports of the property value
A real estate appraisal career is challenging and fulfilling. “Just like an art historian sees more in a Monet than just a bunch of water-lilies, an appraiser views property through an educated and experienced lens,” says Phil Crawford, a third-generation appraiser and host of the Voice of Appraisal podcast. “You’re seeing the world of real estate in a way most people don’t,” says Crawford, from Cincinnati, Ohio. “It can be a very lucrative and purpose-driven career.”
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on September 14, 2021.