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How to Become a Title Abstractor
Title abstractors, also called title examiners, help determine the ownership history of land and its properties. Lenders, real estate agents and prospective buyers use this information to establish whether a property has restrictions that might prevent its use or sale. If you enjoy research and can pay attention to detail, a career as a title abstractor might be right for you.
Title abstractors search, analyze and evaluate records on titles for land, buildings and homes. It’s their job to ensure the property is free of any restrictions that could affect its sale, transfer or use. Restrictions could include delinquent taxes or a property lien, which means that the owner has debt that must be resolved before any sale.
The results of the title search are needed to obtain title insurance, secure mortgage loans, buy and sell property, obtain rights of way, and acquire and protect mineral rights. Based on their research, title abstractors prepare reports that describe any title encumbrances. They outline activities that must be completed to clear the title.
To be a title abstractor, you’ll need a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Although it may be possible to get on-the-job training, most employers prefer candidates with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. A degree in business or paralegal studies is desirable, but not required.
To succeed as a title abstractor, you’ll need top-notch reading and writing skills, interpersonal skills, and analytical and problem-solving abilities. You must be able to use the internet as well as document query and management software such as Microsoft Access and Adobe Acrobat.
Title abstractor certification is not required, but it can enhance employment and salary opportunities. Obtain title abstractor certification through the National Association of Title Abstractors and Examiners and, in Pennsylvania, the Association of title Examiners (ATE). Membership in the National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors (NALTEA) entitles you to take part in NALTEA events, including educational seminars, and it provides a listing in a national directory.
American Land Title Examiners (ALTA) offers a three-month online course for $299 that can help you develop a solid foundation in the industry. Topics include methods and procedure of title examinations, title insurance, government agencies, management and leadership. Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll receive a certificate of achievement.
American Land Title Examiners (ALTA) also awards the National Title Professional (NTP) designation to individuals who qualify with exam and experience. The credential attests to an individual’s knowledge inthe field and makes it possible to be listed in a national directory of title professionals.
Title abstractor jobs can be found at insurance firms, property management companies, law firms and utility companies. Other title abstractor jobs exist within the oil and gas industries with companies that provide title abstracting services and at the offices of real estate agents and brokers. With sufficient start-up capital, experienced abstractors can venture into self-employment by starting their own title abstracting companies.
Title abstractors work indoors in an office environment. They must work well with others and be comfortable spending a good deal of time communicating by phone and email. Deadlines are important in this profession. Title abstractors typically work Monday through Friday during normal business hours.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles data on almost all civilian occupations. According to the BLS, the median wage for title examiners, abstractors and searchers in 2018 was $47,130 per year, or $22.66 per hour. Median wage means that half in the occupation earned more, while half earned less.
A title abstractor salary depends on a variety of factors, including employer and geographic location. The typical title abstractor salary in the oil, gas and electric power industries is the highest in the profession. Top-paying states for the occupation are the District of Columbia, Oregon, Idaho, Texas and California.
States with the highest concentration of jobs are Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho. Metropolitan areas with the most jobs are New York City; Minneapolis; Los Angeles; Warren, MI; and Fort Worth.
- College Foundation of North Carolina: Title Examiner/Abstractor/Searcher: What They Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers
- Spartanburg Methodist College: SMC Paralegal Program to offer Real Estate Title Search Course
- American Land Title Association: Educational Training Videos from ALTA®'s Land Title Institute
- NALTEA: National Association of Land Title Examiners
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.