Antique dealer
Sales & Buyers

As an antique dealer you would find beautiful old objects and furniture, buy them and then sell them to people who will enjoy and re-use them. You'd identify potentially valuable items at sales, auctions, on the internet and in people's homes, judge their value and negotiate a price. You'd find out more about the item or repair minor damage. You'd advertise it to collectors and members of the public, convincing someone to buy it at a higher price so that you make a profit.

Work Activities

You could work with a wide range of objects or specialise in a particular area, like jewellery, glass, furniture or china. You would:

  • Buy items from salesrooms, auctions, markets, trade fairs and private owners
  • Sell items to the general public from a shops or a stall in antique centres
  • Negotiate purchases and sales
  • Buy and sell items online
  • Carry out minor restoration work
  • Research the identity and value of objects
  • Advise owners on the value of their antiques for sale or getting a piece insured.

Some antique dealers specialise in certain items, for example:

  • furniture or sculpture
  • ceramics and glass
  • paintings, prints and drawings
  • books and maps
  • objects made from silver, gold or other precious metals
  • toys and games
  • clocks, watches or scientific instruments
  • items of a certain age or from a particular period
  • antiques from one country or region.

Personal Qualities and Skills

You'll need:

  • an interest in old and interesting objects combined with business skills
  • a willingness to research, study and learn from others
  • negotiating and selling skills
  • the ability to spot saleable items
  • good judgement and the ability to make quick decisions
  • be able to get on well with a wide range of people
  • be creative so that you can display items in an attractive way
  • have technical knowledge and practical skills to keep items clean and in good condition
  • you are likely to need a full driving licence
  • have an eye for detail
  • be able to keep accurate records
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • honesty and integrity.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of antique dealers

Employers are antique/collectable shops. They vary in size and some specialise, for example, in antique furniture, clocks or silver, or in collectables such as glass, ceramics or textiles. Other opportunities exist with auction houses.

Self-employment is possible for those with experience in the industry, and some people turn their collecting hobby into a full-time or part-time business.

Many antique dealers are self-employed, so income may vary depending on the dealer's level of expertise and location.


Entry routes and training

It is possible to become an antique dealer by applying directly to antique shops for vacancies as an assistant. Other dealers start in auction houses as saleroom assistants or porters.

Some people start by collecting antiques as a hobby, and increase their knowledge by reading books and visiting museums and stately homes.

Another entry route is to take a degree in a relevant subject such as fine art or history of art. Entry requirements for degrees vary so it is important to check with individual universities.


There are no minimum qualifications required to become an antique dealer. Some employers prefer English and Maths at GCSE. Other qualifications include Edexcel (BTEC) First qualifications.

Some people enter with A levels or equivalent, or with a higher education (HE) qualification such as a degree, foundation degree or HND.

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