The buying and selling of homes, commercial properties and other real estate is a complex process. The business and finance occupation of real estate appraiser and assessor plays an important role in this process. Appraisers and assessors ascertain the worth of a property for the intents of getting a mortgage or determining property tax rates. A bachelor’s degree is the typical level of education needed for this job, but several different programs of study can help prepare you for the work of appraising or assessing real estate properties.

What Degree Should Real Estate Appraisers Major In?

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Jobs in Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment

While appraisers and assessors perform some similar job functions, there are a couple of big differences between these roles. For one thing, appraisers may work in the real estate or finance and insurance industry or may be self-employed, while assessors usually work for municipal governments, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This distinction is due to the purpose of these workers’ inspections. An appraiser determines how much a property is worth for the purposes of buying or selling the property, while an assessor’s job is to figure out how much money the owner should pay in property taxes. Finally, an appraiser looks at individual properties, researching and calculating the value of one property at a time, while assessors set out to determine the tax liabilities of entire neighborhoods, the BLS reported.

The median salary for real estate appraisers and assessors is $54,010. Appraisers working in finance and insurance earn the most, with a $66,170 median wage, followed by a $54,050 median salary in the real estate industry.

What Degree Should Real Estate Appraisers Major In?Business, Finance and Economics Degrees

While you don’t need a specific major to work as a real estate appraiser or assessor, choosing a degree in the field of business can offer you a lot of opportunities. In particular, studies in business, finance and economics are valuable to real estate appraisers, the BLS reported. Some business schools or departments even offer majors, minors or concentrations in real estate, which can help students develop industry-specific skills they won’t find elsewhere.

In a bachelor’s degree program in real estate, students take classes in real estate principles, property management, real estate finance and investments, real estate law and, of course, real estate appraisal. They may also study urban and regional economics and general topics of insurance and risk management.

Students enrolled in either specialized real estate programs or in conventional business majors – including business administration, finance and economics – also complete core coursework that draws from all areas of business. The business core curriculum differs from one school to another, but it often incorporates studies of accounting, finance, marketing, operations management, strategic management, business communication and business law. In business administration programs, students often divide their studies between pursuing a breadth of knowledge in these diverse areas of business and exploring a concentration or specialization to gain a depth of expertise. For finance majors, courses in investment types, corporate finance and financial planning and portfolio management are common. Economics majors learn more about micro and macroeconomics and the mathematical skills – including calculus and statistical analysis – used to interpret quantitative economic data.

Hands-on work experience is often important for business majors. Aspiring real estate appraisers and assessors should look for internship opportunities that relate to real estate transactions.

Math and Computer Science Degrees

Since the goal of either an appraiser or an assessor is to assign a numerical value to a property, it should be no surprise that the BLS recognizes math skills and analytical skills as among the most important qualities for success in this career field. Since computer software and computer-assisted appraisal systems are also used in the field, it is important for real estate appraisers to have computer and technology tools, as well.

Some of the best ways for aspiring appraisers to develop these skills is to major in a subject like mathematics or computer science, according to the BLS. Math majors complete classes in different fields of theoretical and applied mathematics, including linear algebra, probability and statistics and extensive studies of calculus. Geometry, number theory, graph theory, matrices and mathematical modeling are just a few of many other subjects math majors can pursue. Computer science degree programs also include mathematics courses such as algebra, statistics, discrete mathematics and calculus. However, most of the major requirements for computer science students fit into the categories of programming, networking, software engineering, databases, computer and operating systems, data structures and data mining.

If you major in math or computer science, consider taking business and liberal arts courses to help develop your skills in problem-solving, organization and time-management. Even English classes are beneficial for aspiring real estate appraisers, the BLS reported.

Additional Resources

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