How to Become an Appraiser in Washington

The Department of Licensing (DOL) is Washington’s state appraisal board that oversees the laws and regulations to obtain and maintain an appraiser’s license. There are currently about 2,600 appraisers that are actively licensed in Washington.

Here’s the breakdown by license level:

Certified General (CG)
Certified Residential (CR)
Licensed Residential (LR)

 

38%
56%
6%

Short Answer

  1. Complete 154 total hours of qualifying appraisal courses
  2. Find and register a supervisory appraiser
  3. Apply for the Trainee license
  4. Acquire 2,000 hours of experience with a certified appraiser
  5. Pass the state exam
  6. Upgrade to the Licensed Residential (LR) license

From start to finish, it takes about 18 to 24 months.

Long Answer

Basic Requirements:

  • Applicants will need to be 18 years or older.
  • There is no longer any college requirement to get licensed.

1. Fulfill Education Requirements

You’re going to eventually be required to complete 154 total hours of appraisal education. You can take them all upfront if you want, or you can break them up into two parts (79 hours and 75 hours).

Here’s the first half of qualifying appraisal courses (79 hours):

30-Hour Basic Appraisal Principles
30-Hour Basic Appraisal Procedures
4-Hour Supervisor/Trainee course
15-Hour National USPAP Course

Here’s the second half of qualifying appraisal courses (75 hours):

15-Hour Residential Market Analysis and Highest & Best Use
15-Hour Residential Appraisal Site Valuation and Cost Approach
15-Hour Residential Report Writing and Case Studies
30-Hour Residential Sales Comparison and Income Approaches

These courses will require that you be logged in for at least 50 minutes online for every course hour. That translates to being logged online for a minimum of 128.33 cumulative hours for a 154 hour program.

There’s no limit to how many hours you can do in a day, so how fast you complete these courses will really depend on how many hours of studying you can fit per day.

Proctors

The DOL requires the final exams to have a proctor. This is a person that watches you while you take the exam to make sure there isn’t any cheating happening and that it’s really you taking the test.

A proctor cannot be someone who is related to you by blood, living in the same place as you, and can’t be one of your employees (if you’re a business owner).

You have a number of options for proctoring:

  • ProctorU and Examity are two of the largest companies that offer online proctoring services. They charge around $20 to $40 per exam, but the nice thing is you can take the exams from home. You’ll have to setup a webcam where they can monitor you during the test.
  • My personal favorite is to use public libraries because they’re usually free.
  • Another good option is colleges and public universities. I’ve also heard you can use members of the clergy and military officers.

If you’re not sure if someone is eligible to be a proctor, feel free to contact the DOL directly to make sure.

 

How Much Does It Cost?

The total cost of getting all 154 hours of appraisal courses will easily be over $1,000.

However, you do have the option to break them up into two halves, which allows you to spread the cost over time as well.

2. Find a Supervisory Appraiser

After you complete the 79 hours of appraisal education, you’ll need to find a supervisory appraiser so that you can start to acquire your experience hours.

This is the biggest hurdle that aspiring appraisers will face. You can read about how I was able to find my supervisory appraiser here.

You cannot begin obtaining your experience hours until your supervisor is registered and approved by the DOL.

You supervisory appraiser must meet all of the following:

  • Be a Certified General or Certified Residential appraiser for at least 3 years
  • Be in good standing for 3 years prior to registering as a supervisor
  • Have no more than 3 trainees who have less than 1 year of experience simultaneously
  • Complete the 4 hour Supervisory/Trainee course

If your supervisor gets disciplined while you’re a trainee, your experience may not count anymore.

3. Apply for the Trainee License

Once you have your Supervisor, you’ll send the Real Estate Appraiser Trainee Registration Application along with your course certificates and a $200 application fee.

It takes about two weeks for them to finish processing your application. Once approved, you initial license will expired on the second birthday from the date issue and every 2 years for a maximum of 2 renewals.

4. Acquire 2,000 hours of Experience

Once you’re ready to begin working as a trainee, you’ll need to log your work in chronological date order. The supervisor will have to sign off on each page to vouch for you.

You won’t get any credit for doing restricted appraisal reports.

If you’re like most people doing non-mass appraisal assignments, you’ll need to use this worksheet Real Estate Appraiser Applicant/Trainee Experience Log.

For mass appraisals, you need to log your work on a different worksheet. You’ll need to use the Real Estate Assessors Mass Appraisal Experience Log.

How much do trainees get paid?

There is no industry standard on compensation. It’s really up to you and your supervisor. However, you’ll most likely get paid per appraisal report (because that’s when the appraiser gets paid too).

This is where you can get creative and use this as an incentive for getting a certified appraiser to take you on as a trainee. Some trainees will offer to pay for their supervisor’s continuing education. I’ve heard some people work for free for the first 30 days.

In my experience, the best approach is to focus on getting the experience, not getting paid. This is training for you so that you can build an entire career from it.

5. Pass the State Exam

When you’ve got all your education and experience requirements done, you’re ready to apply for the state exam. You’ll send the Real Estate Appraiser Certification Application along with a $370 application fee to the DOL.  The application fee is non-refundable.

Once you’re approved by the DOL, you’ll take the state exam at one of Applied Measurement Professionals testing centers. They’re a national testing company so it’s very easy to find a time that’s convenient for you. You can make an appointment online at www.goamp.com

They have testing centers in Bellevue, East Wenatchee, Everett, Kennewick, Spokane, Tacoma, and Yakima.

The state exam fee is $105. It consists of 125 multiple choice questions with a passing score is 75% or higher.

Fortunately, the state exam appears to be getting easier over the years. According to The Appraisal Foundation, the average pass rate for Licensed Residential (LR) was 67% in 2017 (compared to 43% in 2013). 

6. Upgrade to Licensed Residential (LR)

This is the easiest step.

After you pass the state exam, you just need to send the following to the DOL:

  • A copy of your Notice of Approval letter
  • A copy of your passing score report from the exam vendor
  • Payment of $250 for the certification fee by check or money order

Congratulations! You’re officially a state-licensed appraiser in Washington!

Renewing Your License

Your license expires every 2 years on your birthday.

To keep it active, the DOL requires that you complete 28 hours of continuing education every two years (including a 7 hour USPAP course) and pay the renewal fee.

You can complete the continuing education courses at any time during your 2-year cycle. However, you’ll have to wait until 120 days before your license expires to turn in the certificates.

You can now submit your certificates and renew online here.