Sales & Buyers

An auctioneer manages the process of buying and selling in a sale ensuring that the best price is reached on the day.

Work Activities

An auctioneer earns money by getting the commission from buying and selling. Tasks involve publicising and organising the sale as well as overseeing the selling process on the day. This can be for diverse things such as land, houses, jewellery, antiques, painting, cars or livestock, and many auctioneers specialise in one of these areas. Auctioneers also value goods insurance or private individuals. Sales are sometimes televised, often for the internet.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • Assess the value of items
  • Decide on a “reserve” prices, the price below which the client would prefer not to sell the item.
  • If it is land or property, the auctioneer may have to write a report on the estate.
  • Organize the sale and booking a suitable venue for the
  • Publicizing the sale
  • Organising the sale catalogue and any other sales materials.
  • Holding the auction – describing each item to the bidders and suggesting a starting bid.
  • Encouraging bids in the room, some bids are through the internet or telephone with a representative at the auction in person.
  • Being aware of bidders who could be at any point in the room.
  • Making sure as many items are sold as possible and trying to avoid reserves not being met.
  • Organising insurance, transport and security for items
  • Valuing items (not for sale in an auction) for individuals, companies or for insurance purposes and may be asked to do this abroad.
  • Hours are usually around 37-40 hours per week though you may have to work outside office hours seeing clients or travelling.
  • The job is a mixture of office and work in the field.
  • There could be progression to management within a large company, moving to another auction house, becoming a company director or freelance.
  • Also called a valuer/auctioneer

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for auctioneers

  • Excellent mental maths is needed
  • An “expert” knowledge and interest in the area you wish to work in.
  • The ability to network.
  • Organisation and communication skills.
  • Able to stand for long periods of time.
  • Good report writing skills for valuations and for writing reports on property.
  • Many auctions are now televised on the internet, and you should be happy to be the centre of attention.
  • Ability to work in a highly pressurised environment.
  • Attention to detail
  • Many auction companies are multinational and so knowledge of a foreign language is an asset.
  • IT skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of auctioneers

  • Large auction houses
  • Smaller or regional auction houses
  • Can be self-employed or freelance
  • You can find vacancies on large company websites, on line job sites, newspapers and journals though many auctioneers work their way up through other roles.
  • Many opportunities are heard about through word of mouth.
  • Although, there has been an increase in on-line auctions in recent years e.g. Ebay, where a knowledge of e-commerce is useful, these do not employ auctioneers as sales are organised in a different way.


Qualifications and training required

No formal qualifications are needed but you need to know the market in detail, and much of the learning is through experience. Some auctioneers start as auctioneer's clerks prior to progressing to full auctioneer status and some start by working small scale charity auctions. It is useful to visit auctions to see and know the process thoroughly.

There are graduate trainee programmes at large auction houses with degrees in gemology, horology, art business, business management, digital marketing, e-commerce, economics and modern languages being useful or required. Internships and work experience can be a start in the profession.

Land and property auctioneers often have a degree or qualification recognised by RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) and there are graduate training schemes in this area. There are also recognised postgraduate qualifications. It is possible to begin work in property through an apprenticeship before specialising.

Once in employment there are short courses available through NAVA – National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers, with Propertymark for property auctioneering, from Levels 3 – 6 as well as short courses. NAVA also offer chartered status through taking accredited courses. Having chartered status through NAVA means that you are more likely to be valuable as an employee and if you are working independently could reduce costs such as insurance. NAVA also run competitions such as the Novice Auctioneer of the Year. There is in-house training in large auctioneering companies, including voice training and there is a need to constantly keep updated with trends and pricing. Taking part in career professional development is often a requirement of larger companies.

Short courses in livestock valuing are available at colleges/universities with an agricultural specialty.

A driving licence is usually needed.

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