Finding a supervisor will feel like you're trying to scale Mount Everest... if you don't know what you're doing.
If you want to become a licensed real estate appraiser, you’ll have to obtain experience as a trainee. This is basically an apprenticeship position under a certified appraiser (Certified Residential or Certified General level). They will be your mentor and teach you the ins and outs of the trade. They are the ones who will show you how to actually write an appraisal report.
Most states require trainees to obtain 1,000 hours of experience in no less than 6 months. California and some other states have the highest requirement at 2,000 hours in no less than a year. (Update: As of April 1, 2020, California only requires 1,000 hours!)
You can work with as many certified appraisers as you want.
Now, to address the elephant in the room. The #1 question (and concern) for anyone trying to get into appraisal is:
“How do I find a certified appraiser to hire me?”
The easiest, and most obvious, way is if you already have a friend or family member who’s a certified appraiser.
Another option is to contact banks or Appraisal Management Companies (AMC) and see if they’re hiring. Some of them even pay you on a salary.
There are a few states like Iowa where the appraisal board will actually provide you with a list of active supervisory appraisers. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these states that offer this, you can simply go down the list and call each one to see if they will hire you. Pro tip: I would start from the bottom of the list and work your way up. Since everyone else usually starts at the top, the appraisers at the top of the list get the most calls and won’t be as receptive.
If you have exhausted those options, then you’ll have to find one by reaching out to them yourself.
I hear a lot of people complaining that they can’t find anyone. And you know what? I’m not surprised. The reason why so many people struggle is that they have the wrong expectations and wrong approach.
I personally didn’t know anyone in the industry when I started. I didn’t have any prior connections, and I’ve been able to successfully find multiple supervisory appraisers. They’re definitely out there. In fact, I know some who are actively looking to take on new trainees all the time.
How did I do it?
Set the right expections.
I’ve heard a lot of people say something like, “I’ve sent my resume out to 50 appraisers and haven’t heard back.”
What I’m thinking is, why should you expect to hear something back?
I mean, if you were to randomly send your resume out to 50 companies for any other profession, do you really expect them to respond? Or just hire you out of the blue?
You have to put yourself in their shoes. You are not the first person to ask them for a job.
And since you are the one looking for the job (not them), you have to first prove that you’re even worth talking to.
It’s also a good idea to know what you’re getting into. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. You’re going to be required to invest a lot of time and energy from the start. This entire process is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. You have to pace yourself. If you set your hopes up too high in the beginning, then you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
You are not going to be making very much money as a trainee. This inconvenience is only temporary. Keep your eye on the prize. Remember, you’re building the foundation so you can have a successful 10+ year career.
The #1 way to get hired is by talking to a certified appraiser face-to-face. I cannot stress how valuable meeting someone in person is. They will remember you and get a good feel for the type of person you are.
Here’s my secret on how to contact them in person:
As a trainee, you’re required to take continuing education (CE) courses to keep your appraiser’s license active. Find live courses in your area, and use your CE as an excuse to meet other appraisers.
Don’t take all your CE hours at once. You’ll want to spread your CE schedule over a long period of time, so you have a better chance of meeting more people.
This makes breaking the ice much easier. You can just casually strike up a conversation, and say something like, “so how long have you been in the industry?”
Remember, if you introduce yourself, you are on the “clock.” Your interview has started.
They are sizing you up as a person and as a professional. They are consciously (and subconsciously) looking at how you dress and present yourself. They will remember you, so make sure you leave a good impression.
Keep in mind, there are good mentors and bad mentors out there, so you want to be vigilant about who you work with. If they come to class with a disheveled appearance and papers spilling out of their binders, that’s probably not a good sign that they will make a good supervisor.
If you do find someone that presents themselves professionally and seems knowledgeable, simply ask them if they are willing to take on any trainees.
If you are in a remote location or there aren’t very many live classes in your area, then you will have to just pick up the phone and call them. Fortunately, you can easily search the National Registry of Appraiser’s to find one in your area. Your state board also provides a directory.
Whether you meet them in person or call them, they will most likely say “no.”
Expect this to happen, but don’t get discouraged. A “no” today isn’t a “no” for tomorrow. I’ve personally talked to several certified appraisers who agreed to take on trainees (even though they didn’t want to) simply because the trainee was persistent.
This is where you can separate yourself from people who complain on internet chat rooms that they can’t find anyone.
If you meet them in person, ask for their business card. If they didn’t bring one, ask for their phone number and email address.
You are still in the "interview" process.
You must send them a follow-up email within 24 hours. Timing is CRUCIAL. This is a small window where you have a chance to prove that you know proper business etiquette.
Keep it casual but professional. Don’t over-analyze the message. Simply tell them it was great to meet them, and that you hope to have an opportunity to work with them in the future.
You are planting a seed in their mind. If you want, you can attach your resume.
Connect with them on LinkedIn. Before you do though, make sure your own LinkedIn profile is polished and up-to-date.
At this point, you will need to follow up with them every 1-2 months. Calling them over the phone gives you the best chance of getting hired. If they don’t pick up, then just leave a message.
If you’re an introvert like me and don’t like making phone calls, you can alternate between phone and email.
It doesn’t matter if they respond or not. What’s happening is that they are getting to know you. They get to see your communication and writing skills. They get to see your work ethic and drive. And hopefully, they are even starting to like you.
How long do you have to keep following up? It’s up to you. This is YOUR “interview.” It ends when you quit.
Remember, you only need to find one supervisor.
Some Last Thoughts
Finding someone to train you doesn’t have to be hard.
Most people struggle because they are stuck in an “I can’t do it” mindset. Remember that every contact you make with a potential mentor is a “test,” so you should always put your best foot forward. Certified appraisers, and pretty much every company, want to hire people with an “I can” attitude. If something is not working, then try something else.
That’s not to say that finding a supervisor will be easy. But if you set the right expectations for yourself and be patient with the process, your persistence and hard work will pay off.