Successful art appraisers have a keen eye, a deep understanding and extensive knowledge of art history and the ability to research a piece of art completely. Classifying the art or the artist are two ways to successfully appraise a piece of art — and knowing the artist’s contemporaries goes a long way to establishing the art’s value. Art appraisers work for a variety of organizations and companies, from auction houses, galleries and museums to insurance firms.
Though not listed in its own category by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art appraisers classify somewhere between real estate appraisers and financial investment activity positions in terms of job responsibilities and functions. The BLS states the average salary for a real estate appraiser is $57,270 and other financial investment activity positions at $67,340 per year as of May 2010. The State University's website sets the art appraiser wages between $43,390 and $65,000 a year.
Insurance appraisers typically earn $58,180 per year, according to BLS in May of 2010. Many art appraisers work for an insurance company's underwriting division to value the art to ensure proper insurance coverage for individual pieces of art or collections. Galleries and art museums also utilize the services of independent art appraisers to ascertain a collection’s worth or to set prices for sale such as at a gallery.
Salary by Location
SalaryExpert.com states that art appraisers in Orlando, Florida, make the least amount of money nationally, at $42,028 per year, while art appraisers based in New York City make the most at $53,610. Art appraisers in Chicago make $48,627 per year and appraisers in Los Angeles make on average $50,123.
An advanced degree in art history and an art appraiser’s certificate course from an accredited program or school, permits an art appraiser to work at auction houses, museums, galleries, independently or as an insurance appraiser of fine art. Independent art appraisers often earn higher pay than those who work for a company or organization. Most appraisers with solid reputations are also members of the Appraiser’s Association of American or the American Society of Appraisers.