County tax assessors estimate property values for their counties for tax purposes. Assessors typically are elected or appointed public officials. The certification requirements to become a county tax assessor can vary by location, so check with your local or regional government for more details. In the United States, assessor boards in individual states determine certification requirements for property tax assessors, and some states leave it up to county and local governments. Generally, achieving certification involves taking specified assessment courses followed by an examination.
Many states also require tax assessors to have undergone a specific number of hours of on-the-job training before granting them certification. People who go to work as assessors often start their careers in offices that are willing to provide this training. Larger county governments sometimes contract out revaluations of previously assessed properties to revaluation firms. These firms work under the oversight of county assessors offices. You sometimes can gain the work experience you will need for certification by working at a revaluation company.
The background that will help you to become a county tax assessor includes strong knowledge about real estate as well as tax laws and tax codes in your county. A four-year degree is not necessarily required, but having an educational grounding in finance, business, economics or related areas can be beneficial. Including courses in tax law, real estate law, business law and similar areas in a degree program will be helpful. Joining a professional organization for tax assessors can be helpful to gain knowledge about the field and can give you possible contacts. One such organization is the International Association of Assessing Officers.
Characteristics that will help you to become a county tax assessor include strong ability with math and numbers. Assessors conduct a lot of research and write many reports, so strong research, analytical and writing skills are important. Good communication skills to work with people, including the general public, are important. An attention to detail will help ensure that you don't miss anything when preparing assessments and will help your work stand up to potential challenges from taxpayers. It is helpful to have computer skills in order to conduct online searches for information and to use word processing, spreadsheet and other programs in this role.
After you become a county tax assessor, continuing education typically is required to maintain the position. The number of hours of continuing education you will need will vary from place to place. Some jurisdictions do not have this requirement.