Step 3: Take Courses

What courses do I take?

The IPAI offers a variety of in-person, online, and home study courses. CIAO Candidates may take their courses in the style that best meets their needs.

  • In-person courses are held over a period of two back-to-back days (7.5 hours each day).
  • Online courses are not self-paced and conducted in a virtual classroom environment with an instructor and other CIAO Candidates. More information about technology requirements for taking an online course is available under the “Learning” menu.
  • Home study courses are only available for some elective courses and involve downloading a PDF copy of the course book and taking an online exam.


Below is an overview of required courses to obtain a CIAO designation. Please keep these helpful tips and information in mind as you put together your plan of study:

  • Detailed course schedules and locations are available on the IPAI website under the “Learning” menu.
  • You must register and pay for the courses through the IPAI Student Portal.
  • Remember, CIAO Candidates have four years from the start of their first course to complete all required courses (If your first course began 4/2/21, you have until 4/2/25 to finish).
  • All students are required to pass an exam for each course. Beginning January 1, 2022, all CIAO Candidates must take exams for the four “core courses” online. This is mandatory for virtual as well as in-person core courses. Exams will open at the conclusion of the last day of class and are open for one week. Learn more about online testing technology requirements.
  • After obtaining the CIAO designation, 60 hours of continuing education (CE) are required every four years to maintain your credentials.



CIAO Standard Option requirements:

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
  • CIAO Candidates taking the continuing education version of ethics will not receive credit. You must take "Ethics for New Assessment Professionals".

Elective Courses:

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

  • IPAI Electives
    • Homestead Exemptions, 15 Hours
    • Office Management, 15 hours
    • Practical Math for Assessment Officials, 15 hours
    • Residential Data Collection, 22.5 hours
    • Valuation of Farm Buildings, 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



CIAO Certified Appraiser Option Requirements:

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 Assessment in Illinois, 15 hours with exam
  2. Basics of Mass Appraisal, 15 hours with exam

(These courses are taken in the classroom or online)

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 Course "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 courses listed above. Contact the IPAI office to request exam materials, pay the fee, and to schedule your exam.



Go to Step 4

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