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Question (12 SEP 09): “Could you offer a bit of direction in regards to becoming a PP Appraiser I would greatly appreciate any advice. I have a BS and am considering a Masters in Art History. Looking into an internship at a museum in San Francisco and or in London. Am I on the right track?

Answer: A Masters helps as would an internship at a museum here or abroad, but the most effective method to become broadly knowledgeable is to work in the marketplace. Museum work is good for identifying objects but worthless for learning the market. Ditto Masters. Work at an auction house if you want to fast-track. You need to be able to identify and understand market forces in order to be a successful appraiser. That takes years and understanding values cannot be had in an academic or curatorial environment. Until you are credentialed no one of importance will take you seriously, and even then not until you’ve sprouted a few gray hairs.

It takes fewer years to become a physician than it does to become an accredited personal property appraiser. Most appraisers have about 20 years of practical experience that is relevant to appraising (e.g. curating, dealing, auctioning, etc.) before they seek accreditation as an appraiser. From the first day they set forth on the accreditation path to the day they realize this lofty goal, it typically takes 5 to 10 years of ticket-punching before they grasp the golden ring. And that is only if they have entrepreneurial skills because one of the steepest hurdles in the process is finding clients, the billable hours, which are logged and ultimately submitted for approval to the candidate’s appraisal society. Applicants that have been attached to a corporate or government teat most of their lives discover the world of the entrepreneur to be extremely difficult.