Become a CIAO

The Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO) designation is the premier designation for assessors in Illinois. The CIAO designation not only instills industry best practices but shows an understanding of the laws and statutes governing property assessment within the state of Illinois. You can choose two paths to qualify for the Certified Illinois Assessing Officer designation: Standard Option or Certified Appraiser Option (see below).

To obtain a CIAO, you must take six courses (four core courses and two electives). Each of the six courses are 15 hours in length and cover two days (7.5 hours each day) in the classroom, with an exam given the morning of day three. The four core required courses are offered individually at various conferences throughout the state, or in a month-long series during our Chicago Qualifying Series and Normal Qualifying Series. The two electives are offered at various times throughout the year. CIAO Candidates have four years from the start of their first course to complete all six required courses (If your first course began 4/2/18, you have until 4/2/22 to finish).




CIAO Standard Option 

Core Required Courses:

Must complete all four courses and pass accompanying exams.

  • Introduction to Assessment in Illinois, 15 hours
  • Property Valuation, 15 hours
  • Basics of Mass Appraisal, 15 hours
  • Ethics for New Assessment Professionals, 15 hours

Elective Courses:

Choose two from the list below (may be an IPAI or IDOR courses). Must complete both and pass accompanying exams.

  • IPAI Electives
    • Office Management, 15 hours
    • Communication for the Assessment Professionals, 15 hours
    • Practical Math for Assessment Officials, 15 hours
    • Residential Drawings, Fieldwork, and Photographs, 15 Hours
  • IDOR Electives
    • Introduction to Property Tax, 15 hours  
    • Introduction to Residential Assessment Practice, 15 hours  
    • Introduction to Commercial Assessment Practice, 15 hours
    • Introduction to Sales Ratio Studies, 15 hours
    • Introduction to Farmland Assessments, 15 hours  
    • Introduction to Mapping for Assessors, 15 hours

Note: Each course is two days with the exam taken the morning of the third day. If a student cannot take an exam on the third day of class, they must schedule to take it at a later date. No credit will be given until the exam is successfully passed.



CIAO Certified Appraiser Option

Must possess a “Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser” or “Certified General Real Estate Appraiser” license in good standing.  (Associate Real Estate Trainee Appraiser does not qualify).


Required Assessment Courses:

  1. Introduction to Property Tax, IDOR Course, 15 hours with exam
  2. Basics of Mass Appraisal, IPAI Course, 15 hours with exam

(These courses are taken in the classroom)

Required 100 Question Comprehensive Exam:

In addition to the above courses and exam, those seeking the CIAO Certified Appraiser Option must successfully complete a 100-question exam covering material from:

  • IPAI Courses “Introduction to Assessment in Illinois”, Property Valuation”

  • IDOR courses “Introduction to Residential Assessment Practice”, “Introduction to Commercial Assessment Practice”, and basic concepts from “Introduction to Farmland Assessments”

A $500 fee must be paid prior to study materials being provided for the comprehensive exam. This fee is in addition to costs associated with the in classroom courses listed above.


Contact the IPAI office to request exam materials and to schedule your exam.

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