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Monday, August 30, 2010


a.k.a. How to Become Designated in 3 Easy Steps

So how does one become certified within the appraisal community? Is it a matter of time, effort, or endurance? This article will provide you a simple roadmap to explain how to arrive at that seemingly elusive destination.

The Certified Appraiser of Personal Property designation was introduced in the appraisal community in the 1980’s through the efforts of ISA and Indiana University. It was designed to provide skills and training in personal property valuation to advance those within the profession. It was also meant to convey a standard of competence to the public by quickly recognizing the four letter designation. This standard, the CAPP, was the pinnacle of all we stood for in our society.

Although times and small details have changed, the program is basically the same as when it was instituted. It is based on three things: education, experience, and expertise.

ISA membership is tiered at three major levels*. The first full level, general membership, is the basic membership. It requires the passing of a general studies course in appraisal methodology and principles (The Core Course in Appraisal Studies) and a completion of the 15 hour USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice). The core course is presented and taught by ISA two or three times a year or is available through distance education (DE). The USPAP two day class is available throughout the country at many venues, including those given by ISA. You do not have to take the ISA version.

In addition to these educational requirements, we insist upon a three year documentation of appraisal or market experience. This can be working in the auction field, interning in a museum, being a dealer in antiques, collectibles, or a certain product, or a host of other related possibilities.

Once one has become a full member (as stated above), they may demonstrate their experience and knowledge in a select specialty area of their own choosing. ISA has a couple of broad categories that are available through completion of our own classes, like Fine Art or Antiques and Residential Contents. Both is slightly less than a week long and taught once or twice a year. (These two areas form the current bulk of our membership.) The jewelry division accepts certain GIA designations in lieu of a specific ISA course. We currently do not have a Machinery & Equipment class.

For those wishing acceptance of another specialty, proof and demonstration of their expertise is required. This is handled by the Special Studies Committee of ISA (SSC). They will review credentials and may ask for a brief thesis or paper of 8-10 pages that verifies expertise in that area. This allows for unique and narrow specialties that exist within our product fields. In addition, they will want to examine an actual appraisal in that product which supports the claimed mastery. Other courses may be approved without the rendering of a thesis, i.e. NAWCC Clock Course, since their programs have been pre-approved by ISA.

As you can see, the accredited level is about product knowledge. Since most, if not all, appraisers work in certain categories, this requirement of education or expertise is not burdensome or unreasonable. It is easily attainable by anyone working in this profession on a regular basis. For those young in the profession, it is most quickly and efficiently done through attendance at our approved FA or ARC class.

One the main changes in the CAPP program since its inception is the concept of certification. Originally ISA would award a designation in a certain area, like Fine Art. The designation would indicate a level of proficiency within the fine art field. This became confusing since it implied that the member was an expert in a category. Since “fine art” can be extremely broad-based and far reaching, to indicate a person was an expert in this entire field was misleading. At the same time, to indicate a member might be an expert in netsuke was extremely difficult to verify. The endless possibilities made it unworkable.

Therefore, ISA decided to award their highest designation, the CAPP, to those who have already achieved both a level of expertise in their specialty field, as proven in their AM designation, and in appraisal methodology and experience. The CAPP is now a general designation and specialty areas are declared by the member.

The process for achieving this highest level of membership is not elaborate, although not quite as simple as the AM. Once registered for the process through an application and fee, the applicant must prove their merit through the three avenues: education, experience, and expertise.

An applicant must pass a comprehensive examination on appraisal methodology and principles, similar to the Core Course exam take previously for general membership. Although not a “bar exam,” it does test the applicant in a very thorough manner.

The applicant must submit documentation proving 500 hours of appraisal experience (1/4 of a year full time) and 50 PDCs (Professional Development Credits). These are easily obtained through attendance at seminars, conference, and professional meetings and activities.

Finally, the applicant must submit two appraisal reports for peer review. These “products” of our knowledge are what we do on a regular basis and the submissions should be examples of our daily work. One is a self-contained report and the other a summary. Only a few items are necessary for these appraisals. The submission is not onerous.

The entire process from entrance as a new member to certified member can take as little as a year. Most full time appraisers can achieve the designation within five. It is not unattainable. In fact, the certified designation is what our society is all about. We strive for excellence in valuation theory and practice. We want our clients to be satisfied and comfortable knowing that our work is the very best and stands up to public scrutiny. Our CAPP is the declaration that our member is trained, tested, and qualified to do solve the valuation problem at hand.

*Other levels of membership, i.e. life member, associate, etc. may still exist due to previous credentialing processes, but are not considered the main three on the road to designation.

Leon Castner, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

1 comment:

  1. Hi !

    I am from India. Since in India we do not have appraisal programs nor we do often hear of qualified proffessionals for appraisal in jewelry or Arts.
    It is through the profile of GIA qualified proffessionals esp from US and EU that i came to know about appraisal.
    Can you elaborate more on the course and how it can help one in earning.
    Too often i see on GIA job database requiremnets of Appraisers.
    Being from India i do not know much about it.

    The information could be quite helpful for aspirants like me, esp from countries like India.