These specialized research professionals are responsible for the expert sourcing and locating of records such as titles, deeds, tax records, mortgages, liens, contracts, map books, land plats, reports and permits that are used for real estate, vehicle, financial, legal and many other personal and business transactions. Title examiners also inspect these records to make sure that all information is complete and accurate before any transactions can take place in the buying and selling of property.
The work requires having a keen eye for detail, a persevering nature and a high level of discretion at all times. Most title examiners work for real estate firms, auto dealerships, and government agencies conducting thorough research of all titles for a wide variety of purposes.
- In 2008, there were almost 70,000 title examiners, abstractors and searchers employed in the U.S.
- Jobs as title examiners, abstractors and searchers require an in-depth understanding of regional laws pertaining to the purchase, transfer and sale of property.
- Title examiners, abstractors and searchers most often have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field.
- Jobs are plentiful for title examiners, abstractors and searchers in many growing industries, including finance, real estate and general business.
Work Environment for Title Examiners, Abstractors and Searchers
The majority of title examiners, abstractors and searchers work in comfortable office surroundings, using general office technology such as computers and telephones. They work in a professional environment from 20-40 hours weekly during standard business hours. Some title examiners may also work on the weekends for companies that do on-demand searches of titles, deeds and other records of importance.
Title examiners most often use public and secure databases to find copies of records, search online for digital copies, may visit court houses, government administration offices and record storage locations to pull physical copies of records when needed. As it takes time to find and request records, title examiners must handle a multitude of projects which can be stressful at times.
Education, Training and Licensing
Most employers who hire title examiners, abstractors and searchers require at least a high school diploma or a general education degree (GED), plus one or more years doing related administrative work. High school students who wish to perform this work should focus on classes in reading comprehension, English, law, business and mathematics to develop the right skills for this occupation. In addition, having the ability to effectively research for information using public databases in the library will help to promote the type of skills that title examiners, abstractors and searchers have.
A vast majority of title examiners, abstractors and searchers go on for some form of vocational or university education, most often in field related to business administration, the legal field, social science, or public research. Title examiners should work diligently to obtain strong research skills while in college to develop these skills which will easily transfer to the workplace. An associate’s degree is acceptable, but a bachelor’s degree will enable a candidate to have a wider range of title examiner and abstractor jobs from which to choose from.
In addition to an education, in many regions in the United States, title examiners must become certified by the Association of Title Examiners, of the ATE, in order to become eligible for employment opportunities. This process involves taking a written exam and paying a small fee as designated by the ATE. There are two levels of certification, the Certified Title Examiner (CTE) and the Senior Certified Title Examiner (SCTE) which are also dependent on the years of experience that the examiner has earned on the job.
Title examiners and abstractors can expect to receive much of their training on the job by working under more seasoned title and records examiners. This experience can take as much as one year to five years to become fully versed in the work that is produced.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
As of the most recent figures published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 56,820 Title Examiners, Abstractor and Searcher jobs, according to the most recent research published in May 2009.
The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 3.5% from 2008 to 2018. In addition, there will be an increase in the number of title examiners who work independently and offer these services in conjunction with other helpful administrative duties, making their pay scales and demand go up accordingly.
Most recent BLS reports indicate that the average annual wage for title examiners, abstractors and searcher careers was $42,960 USD as of May 2009, among some of the higher paying administrative roles in the industry. The middle 50% earned between $38,770. While the lowest 10% of title examiners earned an annual income at or below $23,940, the top 10% earned upwards of $66,480 per year, including many other benefits and perks of working in the real estate, finance and auto industries.