Becoming a Title Examiner: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a title examiner career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if a future in this field is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Title Examiner Career

A title examiner helps organizations to research and confirm ownership of real estate by researching legal paperwork and records. To find out if this career is a good fit, weigh the pros and cons listed below.

Pros of Becoming a Title Examiner
Can often work independently*
Minimal education needed*
Involves a lot of traveling and meeting people**
Instrumental in real estate transactions**

Cons of Becoming a Title Examiner
Average employment growth (9% from 2012-2022)**
Meeting deadlines could be stressful*
Requires a lot of research and accuracy*
Must be familiar with legal jargon*

Sources: *O*NET OnLine, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a title examiner is a professional who analyzes real estate titles and informs real estate agencies, title insurance companies and law firms about the details concerning a property. After receiving a search request, title examiners comb public and private records for items such as mortgage documents, deeds, judgments, contracts and related documents to look for discrepancies and/or confirm ownership. They compile their findings in a title report outlining what needs to be done to clear the title or to confirm the requested information.

Some fieldwork may be required, but your out-of-office time is dependent on the company's unique needs. Independent work is balanced by a number of company responsibilities including duties and deadlines, and any related errors become your responsibility. Hence, you need to be able to work accurately and quickly on a job, while cooperating with your supervisors.

Salary Info

Using data obtained as of May 2014, the BLS stated that the average salary for title examiners was $48,190. The bottom-earning 10th percentile of workers earned an average salary of $27,070 while the top-earning 10th percentile of workers earned an annual average salary of $76,300.The highest wages were found in the pipeline transportation, mining and gas extraction industries.

What Is Required?

Education/Training

O*NET OnLine, a website associated with the U.S. Department of Labor, stated that as of 2010, 56% of title examiners had a high school diploma while 40% had some college experience but no degree. Just 2% had a bachelor's degree. The employer usually offered on-the-job training. O*NET mentioned that candidates should have some work-related experience.

Skills

Title examiners need a core set of skills. Since they interact with a variety of individuals, a high level of professionalism and interpersonal skills are necessary. O*NET also suggests that title examiners be able to handle sensitive information, have excellent time management skills and be problem solvers. Considering that a lot of information can be found using the Internet and computers, title examiners should be computer literate and be familiar with basic word-processing software.

What Do Employers Look For?

Most listings on job boards for title examiners are entry-level positions. Therefore, the positions require a high school or equivalent education. However, some experience may be required, even for temporary positions, and knowing specific software programs may also help. Recent job postings as of April 2012 include:

  • A Texas title company needed a title examiner with a high school diploma and 2-5 years of experience. The title examiner would work on commercial properties and must have been able to comprehend information shown on land surveys, plat maps and other housing documents. The candidate should have had working knowledge of documents such as title insurance, liens and deeds.
  • A family-owned title company in Michigan was seeking a title examiner with excellent interpersonal and computer skills. The candidate must have been able to retrieve information from clients in a timely, professional and polite manner. In addition, the title examiner would reply to incoming calls from clients concerning their property transaction. Knowledge of title software was desired, but 1-3 years of title experience was required.
  • An Arizona title research company was looking for a full-time title examiner and abstractor. The candidate should have had a bachelor's degree and been able to work under pressure. Some responsibilities included reviewing title claims, preparing reports and serving customers.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Computer/Communication Skills

To stand apart from other candidates, title examiners need to develop a variety of skills. O*NET notes that being adept and comfortable with computer technology is a positive job trait for title examiners. They must not only read physical documentation concerning real estate, but they must also input data into computer programs that help calculate and record real estate information. Also, many banks and governments have most of their property and real estate data online, making computer use necessary.

O*NET also highlights the importance of strong written and oral communications skills because you'll likely need to contact estate holders, financial institutions and municipal departments, among others. Prior experience working with real estate, abstracting, mortgages and related fields can also help you stand out, according to most employers.

Get Certified

Job postings and O*NET suggest that since the level of education beyond getting a high school diploma varies, prospective examiners may be able to beat the competition by completing a certificate or degree program. If you have several years of experience, consider voluntarily getting certified to show employers your expertise. Most title examiner positions require significant experience, and certification exams test your knowledge.

The National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors (NALTEA) is a membership and educational association for title examiners. Certification options include the NALTEA Certified Abstractor and NALTEA Master Abstractor designations. NCA certification requires three years of working experience, maintaining ten academic hours of continuing education courses every two years, and passing the NALTEA exam. NMA certification has the same guidelines, but you need eight years of professional experience, show the NALTEA how you conduct a full commercial property review, and have a letter of recommendation from a client.

Alternative Career Paths

Paralegal

If you enjoy gathering significant facts concerning important cases and clients, but you don't want to work in real estate, a paralegal career may be an alternative. Paralegals assist lawyers by researching and organizing facts related to their legal cases. Like a title examiner, they must assess legal information and determine what's accurate. The BLS found that paralegal employment should rise by 18% between 2010 and 2020. Paralegals spend a lot of time in law libraries and researching documents in offices, so unlike a title examiner, travel is limited. Additionally, paralegals are more likely to need an associate or bachelor's degree. According to 2011 data from the BLS, the average annual salary of a paralegal was $50,000.

Claims Adjuster

If you'd like to work with the public both inside and outside of the office but in a different capacity, a career as a claims adjuster is an option. As such, you would assesses insurance claims individuals submit for their lost or damaged property, most often motor vehicles. Accuracy and attention to detail are similar traits necessary in claims adjusting and title examining. There could be some travel needed to sites in addition to communicating and receiving information for claims. Like title examiners, claims adjusters can typically enter the field with a high school diploma and learn on-the-job, but some states require adjusters to be licensed. While the job outlook was only three percent from 2010-2010, the BLS reported the average annual salary of a claims adjuster as $61,000 as of 2011.

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