Assessors are accountable to taxpayers and property owners when they value properties. In the case of a property owner disputing the assessment, the assessor must defend the accuracy of the property assessment.
A state or local assessor board sets education and experience requirements, which vary from state to state. The highest level of education required for any state is a bachelor’s degree while many states hire assessors with only an associate degree.
Areas of study for assessors include business, finance, economics, computer science or real estate.
Some states have multiple levels of certification, while all states require approved basic appraiser courses. In addition to passing a state exam, many states also mandate that a certain number of on-the-job hours be completed. Many assessors hold the same certificates required for appraisers. Although the number of hours varies by state, assessors are usually required to take continuing education courses regularly.
Assessors evaluate property values for the tax assessment purposes and notify the property owners when a reassessment has taken place. They use computer software to evaluate and record assessments. This database includes every parcel in the jurisdiction, property owner information, assessment history and property size. Assessors also work with maps featuring the property distribution of the jurisdiction.
Assessors deal directly with property owners and taxpayers, and they need to be confident in their assessment reports. The only situation when an assessor might determine the value of an individual property is if a property owner disputes the assessment.
An assessor commonly performs the following duties:
Strong analytical and math skills along with a detail-oriented personality prove to be positive attributes for an assessor. Many assessors are self-employed, which requires them to understand how to run a small business and communicate effectively to maintain business. Politeness and patience are valuable traits of assessors as they have to deal with the public regularly.
Although they work with real estate, assessors are not seriously affected by fluctuations in the real estate market. Their employer is the local government, so even in a struggling economy, property must be assessed for tax purposes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this profession will grow by 5% through 2016.
As of May 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the mean annual wage for assessors is $53,520. The annual salary range is from $26,000 to $90,000. Assessors who operate independently generally make slightly more than those who work exclusively for local governments.