Step 3: Take Courses

What courses do I take?

To become a Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO), the IPAI offers two paths: CIAO Standard Option (99% will use this) and CIAO Certified Appraiser Option (for licensed IL residential and commercial appraisers).

All CIAO Candidates (persons pursuing a CIAO) have four years from the start of their first course to complete all required courses (If your first course began 4/2/19, you have until 4/2/23 to finish).


CIAO Standard Option

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. A complete list of required core courses and electives can be found below.

The four core courses are offered individually at various conferences throughout the state, or in a month-long series at our in-person Normal Qualifying Series (in Bloomington/Normal) or at one of our Virtual Qualifying Series (held online in the winter and fall). The two electives are offered in-person at various times throughout the year.


CIAO Certified Appraiser Option

The IPAI offers this expedited path exclusively for those possessing an Illinois “Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser” or “Certified General Real Estate Appraiser” license in good standing.  (Associate Real Estate Trainee Appraiser does not qualify).

Two of our core courses are required (either in-person or online) and a comprehensive exam. A complete list of requirements can be found below.


Course Exams

All students are required to an exam for each course. In-person course exams are held the morning of the third day of class. Students taking courses in our virtual learning environment are required to take their exams online. In-person students are offered online exams as an option.

Beginning in 2022, all CIAO Candidates will be required to take online exams for the four core courses.




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
  • Students 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 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

Please Note: No credit will be given until for a course until the exam is successfully passed.



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.

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