What Is the Job Description of an Appraiser?

Appraisers comb over the fine details of art, jewelry, buildings, and other assets and use their training to estimate value. As an appraiser, it'll be up to you to research, examine, and determine the worth of various items. Find out how to become an appraiser, and explore some of the appraisal specializations available. Get info about certification, salary potential and job outlook for this field. Schools offering Real Estate degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Although appraisers work in a variety of fields, the purpose of the job is consistent: to determine the value of an asset. Types of appraisers include those who estimate the value of property and/or buildings, those who place a value on personal property such as antiques, those who specialize in technology and machinery, jewelry appraisers, and those who determine the total worth of businesses. Read on for more detailed information on each of the fields.

Real Estate Property

Any time a piece of property is mortgaged, sold, taxed, insured, or developed, a real estate property appraiser assesses the value of the home, building or land. As a real estate appraiser, you'll need to document your extensive research used to appraise a property. You might need to take pictures of any areas of concern and note comparable sales, previous value estimates, potential income, location, and assets associated with the property. You could become proficient in appraising a particular type of property, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or vacant land, or offer appraisal services for several types. Real estate and property appraisers may be self-employed, work for local or state governments, or be employed by private companies.

Personal Property

As a personal property appraiser, you'll need to be able to identify the worth of various items. You could specialize in particular items types, such as fine art, antiques, collectibles, textiles, books, or wine. Becoming familiar with a particular era, artist, or region might improve your expertise in identifying the quality and authenticity of certain items. Some insurance companies employ personal property appraisers in order to help form policies for clients.

Machinery and Technical

As a machinery or technical appraiser, you'll focus on industrial-based appraisals. You could appraise the value of a personal computer or a supercomputer. You can also specialize in aircraft. With certification in oil and gas appraisals, you might appraise the value of developed or undeveloped hydrocarbon reserves. Learning the value of specific machinery and technical items could allow you to appraise industrial equipment, public utilities, or marine vessels.

Gems and Jewelry

Working as a gemstone and jewelry appraiser, you'll often determine the value of several types of jewelry. Appraised items can include small gems and jewelry pieces found in local department stores, antique heirlooms handed down through generations, or large, recently mined gems being sold at auction. Some jewelers choose to offer appraisal services in addition to buying and selling pieces.

Business Appraiser

As a business appraiser, you'll typically appraise the value of many types of companies, ranging from small, family-owned stores to large corporations with multiple holdings. Business appraisers attach a value to all tangible and intangible assets in a company's holding. You could also evaluate individual assets of businesses, such as patents, trademarks, or securities. The services provided by business appraisers are often required prior to the sale or merging of companies, or in preparation for a public offering of stock.

Certification

You can earn certification through the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), which represents top quality work in the appraisal field (www.appraisers.org). The organization offers credentials for all types of appraisers, including real estate, business, and jewelry. To become accredited by the organization, you'll need to complete sufficient education and experience as well as provide documented appraisals you've completed. You can earn accreditation in more than one field, and you'll need to participate in continuing education to keep your credentials valid.

Senior member accredited status requires five years of appraisal experience. With this level of membership, you can also seek certification as a Master Gemologist Appraiser if you specialize in jewelry and gemstone appraisal. You'll need to complete required training through the Gemological Institute of America, pass the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-Hue Test for color discrimination and take two courses offered by the ASA appraiser program.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salaries for varying types of appraisers were published as follows, as of December 2013: real estate appraiser, $61,329; automobile appraiser, $51,986; and business appraiser, $81,346. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information for all types of appraisers, it did project that the employment of appraisers and assessors of real estate will likely grow by about seven percent between 2010 and 2020.

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