Is This Appraisal Thing Actually a Profession?

Is real estate appraisal an industry or a profession?  Which term describes us?  Which term should describe us, as well as what we do?  

It is clear we provide our clients with a service, which is one of the hallmarks of a profession.  However, one of the components of one definition of industry is the production of a product.  We produce products, too; they are appraisals (really, they are, by definition, appraisal reports).  So, real estate appraisers provide both a service (the appraisal which, by definition, is a process, thus an intangible), as well as a report (even an oral report), which is a tangible product.  Therefore, is real estate appraisal a profession or an industry?

It is my personal opinion that real estate appraisal is a profession.  Here’s why.  Part of the definition of a profession requires the practitioner to master the knowledge of some department of learning or science.  This applies directly to real estate appraisal since there is a body of knowledge we must learn, then master, to provide our services competently.  Failure to learn, then master, that body of knowledge puts the individual appraiser at the mercy of those appraisers who have learned and mastered that body of knowledge.

Let’s consider Webster’s 1829 Dictionary definition of a profession:   

“Profession: open declaration, public avowal, or acknowledgement of one’s sentiments or belief; as professions of friendship or sincerity…[or] the business which one professes to understand and to follow for subsistence; calling; vocation; employment, as the learnéd professions.”    

Now, from the same source, let’s consider the definition of an industry, to compare it with the definition of profession:

“Industry: Habitual diligence in any employment, either bodily or mental; steady attention to business” (ibid).  

So this definition really means what we would call today industrious.   

Therefore, based on these two definitions, I conclude that real estate appraisal is a profession although, frankly, appraisers must be industrious, too.  So many of us are self-employed, thus have no choice but to be “…habitually diligent in [our] employment…”. 

Yes, there are those who will take exception to this conclusion for may reasons.  That is OK, since one of the ways we learn is to hear, and then reconcile, conflicting opinions.  How do you see yourself? Are you in an industry or a profession?

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 192 Appraisal Industry or Profession?

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