I fell into residential appraisal in 1993 by way of a newspaper advertisement and willingness to work for a low starting salary. My four year college degree was a requirement for this company, but in my home state of Illinois, a two year degree or equivalent is needed for licensure. My company paid some travel and educational expenses. As my experience grew and I upgraded my license, I eventually became a "split fee" appraiser, working independently for other independent appraisal offices, not "in house".
I don't currently recommend residential appraisal to anyone, because fees have actually decreased over the last 13 years and more work/research is being requested. Also, much of the work flow is being controlled by managment companies, rather than mortgage companies/banks choosing which appraisal firm to work with.
However, I'm currently in commercial appraisal which is much more varied and offers better opportunities in my view. A four year degree, and again, a willingness to start for a lower salary will help land the first job. You can search the national and your local appraisal institute websites for potential job postings. Also, you can go to the institute website and send your resume to the local mai's who are listed there. I'm sure there are other methods as well, such as indeed.com.
I think the salary can jump nicely after three to five years in commercial appraisal, given good experience and a decent real estate market. My firm is currently slow because of the slow market, and I'm earning only a base salary which does not pay the bills as I have a family of six. I'm hoping the market picks up and keeping my eyes out for other opportunities as well.
If a potential employer wants you to work for free at first or wants you to bring in business, stay away. There are old-school appraisers out there who still want to do business this way, but obviously, they won't really care about you in this scenario.