How do I Become an Antique Appraiser?

Jodee Redmond

With a goal of becoming an antique appraiser, you will need to start by developing a deep appreciation of antiques and knowledge of how to determine genuine items from reproductions. Not all appraisers have a college education, but obtaining a degree can be helpful. Many antique appraisers are members of a professional organization, and this designation gives them credibility with the clients they serve.

Professional associations offer training for antique appraisers.
Professional associations offer training for antique appraisers.

Some people who end up working as antique appraisers have a degree in fine art, but this is not a requirement. Most people who decide to become an antique appraiser have a background in antique sales, jewelry sales, or real estate. They may also have previous experience as an art dealer before getting into this career field.

An antiques appraiser should be an expert on the provenance and history of the items they're asked to evaluate.
An antiques appraiser should be an expert on the provenance and history of the items they're asked to evaluate.

A person who is deeply interested in antiques and who is looking to make a career change to become an antique appraiser can gain the knowledge he or she needs to evaluate items by taking an appraisal course. Study options include courses offered by professional associations for appraisers and distance learning by studying at home. Prospective students should consider their options carefully to choose a quality program that will give them the skills they need to work in this field.

Frames are just one of the many kinds of items an antique appraiser may encounter.
Frames are just one of the many kinds of items an antique appraiser may encounter.

Choosing a program carefully is important because antique appraisers don't just give clients an estimate of how much an item is worth. They prepare documentation that the client can use to arrange appropriate insurance coverage for their antiques collection. The appraisal documents can also be used to show to a potential buyer if the owner is interested in selling part or all of his or her collection and used as part of the price negotiation process. They may also be called in to provide evaluations for estate valuation or gift tax calculation purposes.

Antique appraisers may focus on certain kinds of items, such as dishware.
Antique appraisers may focus on certain kinds of items, such as dishware.

Check out professional associations to find out about their accreditation process. Some of them require people who want to become an antique appraiser to complete courses offered by the association before becoming certified. They may also require new members to have a specific level of professional experience before they can advertise themselves as being certified antique appraisers.

Getting established in the business is the next step for a person who wants to become an antique appraiser. Developing a clientele can take some time. Many people who work as appraisers started off working part-time until they can generate enough paying clients to earn enough income to work full time in this capacity.

An antique appraisal may be necessary to get adequate insurance.
An antique appraisal may be necessary to get adequate insurance.

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Discussion Comments


For the "poster" who goes on about USPAP, I've taken it, and it's a 500-page book devoted to real estate, with two very small chapters that are marginally related to "personal property appraising!" Hardly an exploration of appraising as it relates to antiques and collectibles (which I believe this article is about).

And, to qualify this point even further, it's not even a "required" standard by any lawful measure, let alone a necessity for banks, insurance companies and the IRS (though I notice you chose to use the more ambiguous term "forgone conclusion" rather than a "necessary requirement.") Sounds more like add-copy for appraisal societies, than accurate information. \

I also noticed that the antique school mentioned earlier in these posts, seems to offer USPAP at a greatly reduced price compared to appraisal societies. I only wish I'd known that when I took the test!


I'd agree with the last few posters that Asheford is probably the way to go if you're wanting to really get into the business of appraising antiques and collectibles. Unlike some other places where you're learning about everything under the sun, the Asheford program is solely devoted to "antiques appraising" - as the headline in this article suggests - not the appraising of real estate, which is primarily what many of these other organizations are teaching, "with several sections of personal property" thrown in for good measure.

If I were hiring an appraiser for "antiques," I'd want a specialist in that area, not someone versed in just general goods and chattels.


There are several sources for personal property education. The appraisal associations (societies) offer something, like USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice). USPAP is organized primarily for real property *but* with several sections devoted to personal property. The USPAP people (the Appraisal Foundation) are increasing the reach and influence of USPAP into the personal property field. All major societies (The New England Appraisal Association, The International Society of Appraisers, ASA and AAA) require that their members take and remain current to the writing standards of USPAP. If an appraiser is working with a bank, an insurance company, or their appraisal is to be reviewed by the IRS it is a forgone conclusion that the appraisal be USPAP-compliant.

I my opinion if you want to be an appraiser of personal property 1) join a major society 2) take USPAP 3) stay current.

Is it expensive? Can be. Is it worth it? You bet!


As an insurance rep (I work for State Farm), we're always hiring out antiques appraisers. We've used a number that came from the Asheford Institute school(as the other poster was mentioning). I can't comment on all of them, but the ones I've spoken with seemed pretty positive about their training, and we've always found them to be professional, and good with valuations.

In addition, they always seem to be on TV shows about antiques, so we figured they must know something! Anyway, if you're looking to get into this line of work, they may be the folks to speak with, since appraising antiques is all they seem to specialize in.


Go online and look up learning to be an antiques appraiser. You will see that there are quite a few options out there. From appraisal societies like the ISA to international schools such as the Asheford Institute of antiques and even some colleges. There are even some privately taught classes from experts in individual fields. I'd look up each of them, and see if they will offer you unbiased reviews of their programs.


This is true. I've been in the antiques business for 35 years, and a self-professed appraiser for 25 years, but in the last while I've noticed a change in how people are going about choosing their appraisers, and the credentials they want the appraiser to have.

This didn't happen in the "old' days - if you were the local antique dealer - you got the job. Now it's almost an absolute necessity to have some kind of credential from an appraisal society or an antique and appraisal school like Asheford Institute or something similar, before someone will even consider hiring you.

I have even seen universities beginning to offer programs related to the appraising of antiques, so I guess it's only going to be a matter of time before 'old timers' like me are going to be out of a job, or heading back to school!

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