How to Become a Real Estate Appraiser in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation handles the certification, licensing and registering of real estate appraisers to perform real estate appraisals. You must get the Appraiser Trainee License to obtain the experience hours that qualify you to take the test for the state certified and certified general licenses.

Illinois Associate Real Estate Trainee Appraiser

Appraiser TraineeAs an Illinois licensed real estate appraiser trainee, you will be able to complete inspections and appraisal reports under the direct supervision of a certified appraiser. However, the amount of work you do depends on the amount your supervisory appraiser allows you to do. He or she may just give you the task of researching property data and filling out reports. Ideally, the supervisory appraiser is a mentor who works with you through the entire appraisal process, helping and guiding you and answering questions. Finding a mentor (especially a good mentor) and obtaining experience hours can be the most challenging part of becoming a real estate appraiser.

Real estate appraising is a diverse field. There are many different factors and scenarios you will encounter and each appraisal assignment is unique. After completing your first few appraisals, you will understand the purpose of field work under a supervisory appraiser and on the job training (which can take six months to two years, depending on your states minimum time requirements and how often you can do appraisal work). It requires specialized knowledge. Obtaining your trainee license demonstrates that you have the elementary knowledge necessary to begin your journey.

Basic Requirements: Must be 18 years or older and submit a completed application
Training Requirements: None
Education Requirements: 75 hours of qualifying education courses from a provider such as McKissock, a leading provider in appraisal education. Sign Up to get FREE Career Advising from McKissock!
Fee: $225.00
State Required Test: Yes

Trainee Appraisers must also complete a course about the responsibilities of Supervisory Appraisers and Trainee Appraisers. The course must be completed by the Trainee Appraiser prior to obtaining a Trainee Appraiser credential from the individual credentialing jurisdiction. This Trainee Appraiser course does not count towards the 75 hours of qualifying education required.

Illinois Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser

Certified Real Estate AppraiserA certified real estate appraiser is the first level of Illinois state licensing for the appraisal of real property (Illinois does not offer a standard licensing level of licensing between trainee and certified). It is one above trainee and one under general certified (commercial). With this credential you are able to appraise all types of non-complex one-to-four family residential property without regard to the transaction value and other types of real property having a transaction value of less than $250,000 (two hundred fifty thousand dollars) (exact limitations may vary by state).

As a certified real estate appraiser, you may find yourself working for an appraisal firm or for yourself as a fee based appraiser. Your clients may be local, such as individuals, lawyers, accountants and small banks, or national, such as from large appraisal management companies (AMCs), national lenders or government sponsored enterprises.

As an Illinois state certified appraiser, you now meet the requirements of many larger lenders and financial institutions which enlist only certified appraisers to for their transactions. Likewise, as a field appraiser, your day will be divided between property inspections and completing research online and at local court houses and/or assessor’s offices. For most purposes, you will be completing appraisals for home purchases, refinancing, divorces, estates and portfolios.

As a state certified appraiser, you will also qualify for many in-house positions at large financial institutions and AMCs (generally as a review appraiser). Although years of experience is often desired, having the state certification meets one of the basic requirements set by many employers and makes you more qualified than if you only have your license. Check out job postings for real estate appraisers to get an idea of what positions are available, what they entail and their exact requirements and qualifications. Working an in-house position is one of the alternatives to field work and you also get to enjoy salary pay and health benefits.

Basic Requirements: Must be 18 years or older and submit a completed application
Training Requirements: 2,500 hours of experience in no fewer than 24 months
Education Requirements: Must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher; 200 hours of qualifying education courses from a provider such as McKissock, a leading provider in appraisal education. Sign Up to get FREE Career Advising from McKissock!
Fee: $315.00
State Required Test: Yes

After you obtain your state certification, you may desire to appraise commercial property. For this you will seek the certified general appraiser credential.

Illinois Certified General Real Estate Appraiser

Certified General AppraiserA certified general appraiser is the highest level of licensing. He or she is able to appraise all types of property – residential or commercial –  with no value limit.  Typically, these appraisers will spend the majority of their time appraising commercial properties. The type of appraisal could vary from a small, one-story office building valued at $250,000 to a high-rise apartment building with a value of $20,000,000.

The main differences between a certified appraiser and certified general appraiser are many additional hours of coursework and 1,500 of commercial appraising (non-residential) experience under a certified general appraiser and a bachelor’s degree. Commercial appraisals are much more complex and time consuming and require far more research. There is far less margin of error. The intended user of the appraisal may be basing a significant business decision on the outcome and an erroneous appraisal could result in a loss of millions of dollars. As a result, the requirements to become a certified general appraiser are more stringent.

As an Illinois certified general appraiser, you will typically work in a small to medium sized firm devoted to commercial work. You may but rarely will complete residential assignments. But if you do decide to complete residential appraisals you can (just like licensed or certified appraisers) do work for local and national clients devoted to residential transactions.

Basic Requirements: Must be 18 years or older and submit a completed application
Training Requirements: 3,000 hours of experience in no fewer than 30 months (1,500 of these hours need to be in non-residential experience)
Education Requirements: Must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher; 300 hours of qualifying education courses from a provider such as McKissock, a leading provider in appraisal education. Sign Up to get FREE Career Advising from McKissock!
Fee: $315.00
State Required Test: Yes

When Should You Take The Appraisal Courses?

appraiser_traineeIt is not required to take the required appraisal courses before finding a mentor.

However, I suggest taking the courses first for three reasons:

1)  It will help you determine your level of interest and aptitude for actual appraising. Maybe you’ll change your mind after going through the courses, or maybe you’ll become much more interested. I offer an eBook about being an appraiser, but the courses will show you actual appraising and you’ll do it in theory by completing samples (case studies).
2)  If you find a supervisory appraiser, he/she may tell you to come back later once you complete the courses for the trainee level (at a minimum) and obtain the trainee license, which could take two months, depending how quickly you can complete the courses. In the meantime, someone else could take your spot.
3) Your experience hours don’t count until you’ve taken the courses and obtained your trainee license. So if you wait to find your supervisory appraiser before taking the courses, you’ll lose two months worth of experience hours (or however long it takes you to get through the courses). You’ll get the experience, but the hours won’t officially count.

Here’s an example of a trainee posting from Craigslist illustrating this:

“Certified Residential Appraiser looking to take on a trainee… Preferable applicant will have a minimal 2 year degree and will have completed all required basic level training to acquire an appraiser trainee license. Please submit a resume for consideration.”

Of course, if you find a supervisory appraiser who is willing to take you on immediately even before you complete the courses or obtain your trainee license, do it! You don’t want to lose the supervisory appraiser. Just accept the loss of initial “log” hours for the immediate opportunity you have.

Free Career Advising

Appraiser Career Center has partnered exclusively with McKissock Learning, a leading provider in appraisal education, to offer free career advising to its readers. This service is available to help you learn more about becoming an Illinois real estate appraiser and decide whether it’s right for you. Complete the simple form below and a career adviser will contact you!

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An adviser at McKissock will call you and help answer your questions about becoming an appraiser, how to get started, finding a mentor, which courses to take and other questions you may have about this profession. 

If you decide it isn't for you, or you're not yet ready, that's OK! There's no obligation or pressure to continue. We are here to help. (not available in  MA, NC or TN due to state board in-person class requirements for qualifying education)



Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation

The author of this article, Chris Dolland, is an active Certified Real Estate Appraiser. If you have questions about becoming an appraiser, post one in the comments below!

Want to know more? Read our 60-paged eBook written by a state certified appraiser!
  • Front CoverGet an inside look at being a real estate appraiser
  • Determine whether appraising really is the right career choice for you
  • Discover the little known experience hour “loop hole”and how it can help you get more hours
  • …and Much More!


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