If you've attended an auction, you've no doubt been struck by
the performance of the auctioneer. With enviable verbal skills
and a quick wit, the auctioneer keeps the crowd focused and sale
moving at a steady clip.
And they make auctions fun, too. Couple that with bids for seemingly
astounding amounts, and auctioneering starts to look like a viable
and lucrative profession.
Can you make a living as an auctioneer? Yes. Can you become wealthy
in the auction industry? Yes.
But succeeding in the auction industry isn't a sure thing. Like
any business venture, a combination of training, skills and determination
are essential to the success of an auction business. In addition,
auctioneers should adhere to a standard of professional conduct
and often need to meet local and state licensing requirements.
Here then, is a brief overview of the duties of an auctioneer
and the path one might take to establish an auction business.
The most common public perception of an auctioneer is that of a
man or woman, holding a gavel, spitting out a torrent of words
and yelling "Sold!" as one lot after another crosses
the auction block.
The chant, that often-indecipherable string of words, is a crucial,
but minor aspect of an auctioneer's job. From the moment they've
been contracted, an auctioneer fills several roles: office manager,
public relations manager, accountant, traffic coordinator and janitor
to name a few.
The single most important role an auctioneer takes on is that
of marketing expert. Auctioneers are adept at marketing a client's
property through the appropriate media and reach a specific audience.
In large part, their livelihood depends upon being able to attract
those individuals most interested, and therefore, most willing
to buy a particular item.
The ability to market auctions and merchandise effectively comes
from an intimate knowledge of the specific types of merchandise,
its value, the demand for such merchandise, and the targeted market.
Beyond being able to juggle a number of duties, the prospective
auctioneer needs to be personable and work well with a variety
of people. During the course of organizing a sale, the auctioneer
consults with the seller, field questions from potential buyers
and, on occasion, mediates disputes.
The majority of auction companies are independent ventures, although
there are some larger regional and national auction houses. Building
and maintaining an auction business can be time-consuming endeavor,
with dozens of hours of preparation for every hour of the actual
sale. Auctioneers often call on family members to help handle sale
logistics and staff auctions.
In addition to long hours, an auctioneer's annual income depends
upon the effort and time devoted to the business. There are auctioneers
who have become wealthy after establishing their business. But,
often, beginning auctioneers get their start working as a part-time
auctioneer and holding down another job. Like any business venture,
the return in income is largely dependent upon the amount of time
and effort spent making a go of the business.
How do you learn the auction business?
Many auctioneers got their start working as a clerk or bid caller
for the family auction business. Some NAA members now run businesses
that have been in their family for two or three consecutive generations.
Many auction companies continue to be family-held endeavors, with
extended family members helping organize and staff sales.
If you haven't been involved in a family auction business, there
are two other ways to learn the trade. First, there are dozens
of auction schools and programs, either independent institutions
or programs that are affiliated with a community or four-year college.
Schooling can last for a couple weeks or as long as a college
semester. You can expect to learn the trademark auctioneer chant,
how to market your services and sales and how to get started in
the auction business. The NAA has developed a growing list of auction
schools from across North America.
A second option is to gain practical experience as an apprentice
under an experienced auctioneer. Apprentice auctioneers assist
in organizing and running sales, and learn many of the crucial
day-to-day operations of running an auction business.
Either option also includes holding a high school diploma or a
GED. Some auctioneers find completing some additional education,
either through a local community college or four-year institution,
Your choice of education could largely depend upon the licensing
requirements for auctioneers in your state. Many states that require
licensing for auctioneers only accept educational credit from specific
auction schools or programs. Often licensing boards will waive
the educational credits if an applicant served as an apprenticeship
under a licensed auctioneer. Required apprenticeships can range
in length from conducting a few auctions under an auctioneer's
guidance to one or more years. Call your state government offices
to determine if your state has auctioneer licensing laws and educational