A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum requirement to work as an appraiser. However, employers sometimes prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor’s degree or some insurance-related work experience or vocational training.
Different backgrounds or college coursework are best for different types of work in this occupation. For example, a business or an accounting background might be best for someone to specialize in claims of financial loss due to strikes, equipment breakdowns, or merchandise damage. College training in architecture or engineering is helpful for adjusting industrial claims, such as those involving damage from fires or other accidents. A legal background is beneficial to someone handling workers' compensation and product liability cases. A medical background is useful for examiners working on medical and life insurance claims.
Auto damage appraisers typically have a two-year postsecondary diploma or experience working in an auto repair shop, identifying and estimating the cost of automotive repair. Although auto damage appraisers are not required to have a college education, most companies prefer to hire people who have formal training, experience, or knowledge and technical skills to identify and estimate the cost of automotive repair. Many vocational colleges offer two-year programs in auto body repair and teach students how to estimate the costs to repair damaged vehicles.
At the beginning of their careers, insurance appraisers work on small claims, under the supervision of an experienced worker. As they learn more about claims investigation and settlement, they are assigned larger, more complex claims. Auto damage appraisers typically get on-the-job training, which may last several months. This training usually involves working under supervision of a more experienced appraiser while estimating damage costs until the employer decides the trainee is ready to do estimates on his or her own.