Just saw a poorly worded post on social media, with the poster asking a group of appraisers for help finding someone to mentor their trainee. It turns out the poster was actually asking for suggestions on how to find a mentor, and that she was the trainee. This is a common question, and many of us who have been appraising for a long-time, field these types of questions on a regular basis. The question is essentially what can I do to become licensed or certified.
We need fresh blood coming into the industry, but the appraisal field does not have a limitless supply of work, and taking on a trainee is a time-consuming and costly venture for the supervisor. The commitment of the potential mentor is much more onerous than that of the trainee. Not only is the time commitment enormous, if done correctly, but the potential of training someone who lacks loyalty and harms your business is real. As such, the potential trainee needs to approach the supervisor with something of value that would help create a mutually beneficial relationship, not one that is one-sided. The trainee needs to be committed to being loyal to the person who takes the time to properly mentor them, and not to start with the idea of “hanging their own shingle” as soon as certified.
Appraisers throughout the blogosphere are talking about a lack of work. While it is common that the autumn months are slower than the early spring through summer months, this could be different. There is not a plethora of work for residential and commercial appraisers alike, and when appraisers see fewer orders, they are less likely to consider taking on additional help, including trainees. The cyclical nature of appraising makes it more likely, in my opinion at least, that a potential trainee will more successfully navigate finding a supervisor in the spring, than in the fall or winter. If the slow-down in work continues, then it may be difficult regardless of the season. In that case, the potential trainee is going to need to bring something valuable to the table.
Becoming an appraiser takes commitment and gumption. Just to become a trainee, the trainee has to have 75-hours of pre-licensing qualifying education including the 15-hour National USPAP course. That is without the guarantee of a supervisor. The trainee will have to be directly monitored by a Supervisory Appraiser who is in good standing with their state. The supervisor has to maintain an experience log with the trainee, and will need to directly supervise until they deem the trainee is sufficiently competent to complete certain aspects of the appraisal process without direct oversight. The supervisor remains responsible for the work of the trainee throughout this training period, which typically lasts at least two years.
More information about the trainee and supervisor requirements can be found on the Appraisal Foundation website at Appraisal Foundation. If you are exploring the idea of becoming an appraiser, please study these requirements, as well as listen to the Real Value Podcast from Blaine Feyen about trainee appraisers. This is found at Real Value Podcast.
Both trainee and supervisor have uncertainty related to the future. The supervisor can rightly worry about training someone who will leave as soon as they become valuable, and the trainee has a legitimate concern about being taken advantage of, and working with someone who lacks either ethics or competency, or even both.
Appraising can be a fascinating and rewarding career, and I do encourage people to explore it. If you have a passion for research, communication, and are able to put in a sufficient amount of time to properly develop your skills, then it can be a fabulous career. Great appraisers never stop learning and never stop expanding on their skillsets, be it with the valuation analysis, type of property appraisal report, or writing skills, or in other aspects. If this excites you, and you want to put forth your best work at all times, please do the research and talk with appraisers. Network, and take high quality coursework. Although not limitless, there is always room for ethical and competent appraisers in the field. It is not necessarily easy, but those of us who love it, remain passionate about it throughout the years.