A real estate appraiser calculates values for pieces of real estate. The most common task that an appraiser performs is letting banks know what a house or investment property is worth, so that they can appropriately size mortgage loans. Appraisers also help value properties for estates, determining both new cost bases and values for any estate tax that needs to be paid. They also provide opinions of value in eminent domain proceedings, where government takes land from private owners, in partnership disputes and breakups, and in any number of other instances. Pennsylvania requires that appraisers doing business there hold a license from its State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.
Graduate from college with at least an associate's degree or, for general certification, with at least a bachelor's degree. If you are not a college graduate, you can also be qualified for a residential certification with 21 semester credits in appropriate fields or 30 credits for a general certification. These fields include economics, finance, mathematics at or above the level of algebra, computer science, business or real estate law and English composition.
Complete 75 hours of classroom education toward your Licensed Appraiser Trainee certification. Courses should be divided into 30 hours of training in basic appraisal principles, 30 hours of training in procedures and 15 hours in a national USPAP course or its equivalent. You can substitute one semester credit for 15 classroom hours.
Complete the Licensed Appraiser Trainee Application and attach a $75 check as well as transcripts from your courses. Return it to the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers at P.O. Box 2649 in Harrisburg, PA, with the zip code 17105-2649. You will receive a license as an appraiser trainee.
Work under a licensed appraiser to obtain the experience to become a certified appraiser. You will need 2,500 hours of appraisal experience over at least 24 months to qualify for a residential certification and 3,000 hours of appraisal experience over at least 30 months to qualify for a general certification. For the general certification, at least half of your experience must be nonresidential. In either case, keep your experience log current.
Complete a total of either 200 or 300 classroom hours of appraisal education, depending on whether you seek a residential or general certification. The 75 hours that you have already completed count toward this requirement.
Submit the Application for Certification as Real Estate Appraiser with all of its supporting documentation and enclose a check for $235. Mail it to the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers.
Wait to receive an approval letter from the state board. Once you receive it, register for, take and pass the state examination. The cost is $145, as of January 2011.
Send in your national registry fees and initial certification fees once you receive confirmation that you have passed your examination. The board will send you your license.
Complete 14 hours of continuing education every year to maintain your license. This should include a seven-hour National USPAP update course as well as two hours of instruction specific to the laws and regulations of Pennsylvania.