Top 6 Organizations That Certify Fine Art Appraisers

Professional Organizations for Certified Personal Property and Art Appraisers

It may sound counter-intuitive, but presently, personal property (and fine art) appraisers are not required by law to be regulated. Regrettably, this lack of oversight can lead to shady dealings, the trade of counterfeit works, and other questionable practices.

However, certificates are given to qualified appraisers. The importance of Appraisal Certification ensures that both the consumer (i.e. collector, estate trustee) and the seller (i.e., dealer, appraiser) are protected in the business of art valuation and appraisal.

In order to avoid any regrettable decision when getting an artwork appraised, be sure to choose a certified U.S. appraiser from one of the main accrediting bodies including The Appraisers Association of America (AAA), the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).  These bodies provide rigorous training for art appraisers, which lead to a certification for their accredited members. While the AAA, ASA, and ISA are the best known, there are others, equally as good.

If you wish to work as an art appraiser, it is best to become certified and join one of the professional accrediting bodies listed here. Typically, art appraisers must complete a training course and pass the exams in order to be accredited.

American Society of Appraisers (ASA)

Art Appraisers
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Established in 1936, the American Society of Appraisers is the oldest appraisal organization and has strict requirements for membership.

Appraisers who wish to join the ASA must pass the ASA Ethics Exam and the 15-hour USPAP course and exam.

Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA)

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Photo by Oli Scarff © Getty Images
Old Master paintings on view in Dulwich Picture Gallery, which celebrates its bicentenary on January 4, 2011 in London. England’s first public art gallery, was founded in 1811 by Sir Francis Bourgeois who bequeathed his collection of old master paintings. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The ADAA service appraises art ranging from the old masters to contemporary work acquired for tax purposes.

Membership in the ADAA requires an invitation by the ADAA's Board of Directors. Dealers who become members have "an established reputation for honesty, integrity, and professionalism among their peers. They either make a substantial contribution to the cultural life of the community by offering works of high aesthetic quality, present worthwhile exhibitions or publish scholarly catalogs."​

Appraisers Association of America (AAA)

Appraising Art
Appraising art for legal issues. Photo Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Certified members of the Appraisers Association of America are qualified to appraise fine arts, jewelry, and personal property.

AAA membership includes over 700 appraisers. They are mainly independent, but some members have a gallery or auction house affiliation. To become a member requires appraisers must complete the NYU/SCPS Appraisal Studies Program or the AAA program.

Appraisal Foundation (AF)

Old Masters
Old Masters works never go out of fashion. Raphael's drawing Head of a Muse offered at Christie's on December 4, 2009 in London. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Appraisal Foundation was founded in 1987 as a not-for-profit educational organization.

Membership consists of non-profit organizations representing appraisers and users of appraisal services. Individual membership is not available.

One of the AF's mission is to promote the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

The International Society of Appraisers (ISA)

The International Society of Appraisers (ISA) is a not-for-profit organization. Membership includes appraisers, auctioneers, estate liquidators, and art gallerists.

Membership requires passing the Core Course in Appraisal Studies.

Private Art Dealers Association (PADA)

Art Dealer
An art dealer working at the Frieze London Art Fair which takes place in London's Regent's Park and runs from October 17 to 20, 2013. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Private Art Dealers Association (PADA) is an organization of sixty established art dealers who provide appraisals for charitable donations and estate tax.

Membership is by invitation only and is offered to art dealers who have been operating a minimum of five years. Members include dealers whose expertise ranges from appraising the old masters to appraising contemporary and modern art.