Both marine surveyors, and appraisers specializing in marine assets, are unlicensed by state and federal governments. In other words there is no requirement by regulation or statute that practitioners of either profession obtain licensure prior to practicing their craft. However, both professions have professional associations that certify / accredit members.
The two main marine surveyor associations offering certification / accreditation are the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). The only practical difference between the two groups is that NAMS has a conflict of interest limitation, and SAMS does not. This can actually be a big deal because a SAMS surveyor can be a yacht broker or a mechanic doing pre-purchase surveys.
Neither NAMS and SAMS have any formal coursework or training in place to become certified or accredited; instead they rely on the individuals prior education, experience and training. Both associations require 5 years of experience as a surveyor, and then require that the prospective member pass a written test. Both NAMS and SAMS require that a member take a minimum number of continuing education units. NAMS requires 24 credits every two years and SAMS requires 60 every 5 years.
The only professional association offering accreditation in marine survey specific appraisal is the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Like both NAMS and SAMS, ASA requires 5 years of appraisal experience. However, ASA goes a step further requiring completion of four area specific courses that are 30 hours each. The courses include in-depth instruction and testing on the three appraisal approaches; the Market (sales) Approach; the Cost Approach; and the Income Approach. ASA also requires a test to achieve a designation in commercial or yacht marine surveying, as well as taking the updated Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) once every five years. ASA also requires reaccreditation once per five-year period by submitting a minimum of 100 hours of continuing education units.
In summary, either a NAMS certified or SAMS accredited marine surveyor may have the background, experience and training to conduct a simple appraisal using the Market Approach. However, if the property being appraised is unusual in any way then it may be worth hiring an Accredited Senior Appraiser who has the education, training, and experience to produce an appraisal report that will be as accurate as possible, and will stand up to scrutiny (i.e. litigation, IRS audit, etc.).
Currently there are ten ASA accredited commercial marine surveyors, and seven ASA accredited yacht marine surveyors in the entire country. The link for the “Find and Appraiser” is http://www.appraisers.org/find-an-appraiser.
Dana Teicheira is a NAMS Certified Marine Surveyor and an ASA Accredited Senior Appraiser with a designation in Commercial Marine Surveying.