A title abstractor's primary job is to make sure that titles — legal documents that show evidence of property ownership — are free of restrictions that can obstruct property sale or use. Also known as a title examiner or title searcher, a title abstractor may also verify a property's legal description. In order to become a title abstractor, one typically must have some level of education, though not necessarily anything beyond a high school diploma. There are also specific training programs geared toward this work. Some experience in the field will also help prospective abstractors land good positions.
Title abstractors comb through private and public records to assess title in property. A good understanding of applicable statutes and case law, including tax obligations and local zoning ordinances, is important. As a result, the ability to research this type of information, analyze it, and pay attention to detail are important qualities in a prospective title abstractor. Additionally, since title abstractors summarize the information they gather into a report to present to the interested clients, good writing skills are necessary.
There is no specific degree to acquire to become a title abstractor. Most of these types of professionals have at least a high school diploma, and the larger companies have their own in-house training programs. In some cases, if you only have a high school diploma, you may start off by working as an assistant — gathering information for more experienced title abstractors and gaining informal instruction from them. This period could last for a year or two before you can become a full-fledged title abstractor.
Many employers, however, are increasingly requiring that aspiring title abstractors have at least an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. Coursework relevant for someone to become a title abstractor includes subjects in real estate, banking, business administration, finance, law, and mathematics. Associate's degrees can be obtained from a community or junior college, while bachelor's degrees can be obtained from a four-year college or university.
Once you become a title abstractor, job opportunities will exist in a variety of places, including real estate agencies, title insurance companies, mortgage companies, and land development corporations. You can also become a title abstractor for the local, state, or federal government sector. In this capacity, you will likely be making sure that land is being used appropriately.
There is also room for advancement in being a title abstractor. Some people become supervisors of title abstractor teams, or move to administrative or managerial positions within the companies they work for. Other people branch out into related careers, such as paralegals, loan clerks, and claim examiners, and might even need to go back to school for additional education.