Commercial Appraiser Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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A commercial appraiser's median salary is around $53,000. Is it worth the education and licensure requirements? Get the truth about job duties and career prospects to determine if becoming a commercial appraiser is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Commercial Appraiser

A commercial appraiser examines a piece of business property and determines its value. Learn about the pros and cons of becoming a commercial appraiser to find out if embarking on the career is worth it to you.

PROS of a Commercial Appraising Career
Higher-than-average salary (median salary of $53,000 in 2014)*
Can be self-employed*
Relatively standard 40-hour work week for appraisers employed by a business*
Varied work environment (in-office and on-site duties required)*
Can work in most any geographic location*

CONS of a Commercial Appraising Career
Slow job growth rate (estimated at six percent from 2012-2022)*
Employment dependent on housing market (demand falls during recessions)*
Job requires continued education*
Strict certification requirements*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Whenever a commercial property is about to be sold, insured, developed or taxed, commercial appraisers are usually brought in to determine its value. They might work on behalf of buyers, real estate companies, insurance companies or government entities. They can evaluate parcels of land or buildings that are about to be sold as retail outlets, hotels or other commercial ventures. Appraisers document whether or not the property is next to busy roadways, has a unique architectural history or will bring in foot traffic. By combining these insights with further research on lease records and nearby property values, appraisers can determine how much a piece of property is worth.

Commercial appraisers can work independently or within an appraisal service. Independent appraisers often maintain a small staff and work longer hours, because they are solely responsible for completing on-site work and paperwork. Appraisers can also work within banks or mortgage companies, or they may work for local and state government agencies.

Job Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), real estate appraisers earned a median salary of about $53,000 in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The mean salary for appraisers working in local government agencies was $51,000 in 2014, while the mean salary for those working in the state government was $53,000 in 2012.

Some commercial appraisers work for the nondepository credit intermediation industry group, which is composed of public and private companies that extend credit or funds by credit-market borrowing. These entities may include government-sponsored businesses or private corporations. Commercial appraisers in this industry earned a mean salary of around $68,000 in 2014, according to the BLS. Additionally 4,700 new appraiser jobs were expected to be added from 2012-2022, a six percent increase from the previous decade.

Job Requirements

You will need a bachelor's degree to appraise commercial property. Your options for an undergraduate major are varied, and many different subjects can prepare you for this career. Although you won't be tied down to a specific major, you'll need to take courses related to finance, economics, mathematics, business and computer technology. Courses related to real estate business and law can also be beneficial.

Certification

Becoming a Certified General Real Property Appraiser will provide you with the credentials needed to appraise real estate property of all types, including commercial property. Each state has its own certification requirements, but all must meet the federal minimum requirements for general appraisers, which require you to have a bachelor's degree or compete 30 units of college-level courses in subjects such as English composition, real estate law, accounting, mathematics and economics.

You must also complete 300 hours of classroom training that is specifically related to the appraiser profession in order to gain certification. You are also required to complete 3,000 hours of professional experience over 2.5 years. Finally, you must pass an examination. Some states have additional requirements above the federally mandated minimums. For example, to become a Certified General Appraiser from the Oregon Appraiser Certification and Licensure Board, you will need to complete 450 hours of classroom training in subjects such as real estate law and business, along with 300 hours of training in appraisal principles and procedures. Many states will also require you to meet continuing education requirements every two years.

Skills and Qualifications

To work as a commercial appraiser, you should have strong analytical and organizational skills. You should be able to record all of the data surrounding a particular property and analyze it to determine that property's worth. You will also need to have strong time-management skills, particularly if you choose to become self-employed. In order to succeed as a commercial appraiser, you should be familiar with the community in which you work, since your understanding of local environmental factors will help you assess a property's worth.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers in the commercial real estate field are often looking for appraisers who can put together detailed reports. For this reason, most employers will require you to have an understanding of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You should also have the required certification and a strong understanding of the appraisal process. Below are a few job postings from March 2012 to give you an understanding of what employers are looking for from potential hires:

  • A central appraisal district in Texas was seeking a candidate to appraise property for tax assessments on behalf of the state. The ideal hire needed a degree in finance or real estate or at least ten years of appraisal experience. Applicants also needed to have a valid driver's license and pass a criminal background investigation.
  • A valuation-consulting firm in California was looking for a commercial appraiser at the senior level who could complete consultation and report directly to a senior partner. Familiarity with both Microsoft Office products and database systems was also required.
  • A school district in Hawaii was looking for a commercial appraiser to design real estate valuation models, as well as assess the value of a commercial real estate portfolio. Job applicants needed a bachelor's degree, knowledge of the appraisal process, the ability to make critical and rational decisions and a strong understanding of financial calculations.

How to Stand Out as an Appraiser

One way you can stand out as an appraiser is to become a member of a professional organization or networking society such as the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or a regional, state or even city organization for professional commercial appraisers. These groups help to educate and train aspiring appraisers through continuing education courses and webinars, while connecting clients with experienced and qualified appraisers through listings and referrals from fellow members. Some of these organizations offer voluntary certifications and designations like the ASA's Accredited Member designation that can stand out on a resume or when a client is choosing an independent appraiser. You can join some organizations as a commercial appraiser trainee, achieving full membership status once you fulfill the certification requirements in your state.

Other Possible Career Paths

Residential Property Appraiser

If you are interested in becoming a real estate appraiser, but you don't want to earn a bachelor's degree, you could consider becoming a residential property appraiser, which has a lower minimum education mandate. Most states will require you to have an associate's degree and complete specified training in order to gain certification. Many of your duties will be the same as those of commercial appraisers; however, you would assess individual homes and determine their value for tax or resale purposes. According to Salary.com, appraisers in the residential field earned a median salary of $45,000 in 2012. Residential property appraisers and commercial appraisers alike could see seven percent job growth from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

Assessor

Assessors sometimes assess entire neighborhoods as opposed to one piece of property. You would typically work for local governments to determine how much a large area of a city or state is worth. Typically, you won't have to meet federally mandated educational requirements to get started in a career as an assessor. Each individual state determines its own training requirements, and many will require you to gain on-the-job training through an assessor's office. Certification requirements for assessors are similar to those for appraisers; however, certification is not required in all states. The median salary for the profession was $49,000 in 2011, and jobs in this field are expected grow at the same rate as jobs for appraisers, according to the BLS.

Building Inspector

If you want to put your investigative eye and analytical skills to use as an inspector in the property world, but you're not interested in studying finance, you might consider becoming a building inspector. You would examine residential or commercial buildings to make sure they are safe and in compliance with building codes. You may need a certificate or an associate's degree in building inspection technology. In 2010, building inspectors earned a median salary of about $52,000, according to the BLS. Employment in the profession was predicted to grow 18% from 2010-2020, about as fast as average.

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MBA: Finance
  • BSBA - Real Estate
  • Associate: Business Admin.

Which subject are you interested in?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Master of Science in Finance

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Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization

What is your highest level of education completed?

American National University

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Business Administration Management - Associate
  • Business Administration - Diploma

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South University

  • Business Administration (DBA)
  • Business Administration (MBA)

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
  • Bachelor of Science in Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business

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South College

  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Notre Dame de Namur University

  • Masters in Business Administration

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