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Auctioneer Profile

 
Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Auctioneer. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Auctioneer
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Auctioneer Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

An auctioneer is responsible for running a sale by auction. This type of sale is used in various situations to get the best market rate for sale items. The auctioneering firm earns its money by taking a commission from both the buyer and seller.

Auctioneers are involved in selling:

• chattels - all kinds of moveable items
• land and buildings - both houses and business premises can be sold by auction
• livestock

Auctioneering firms usually operate from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday. There may be occasional sales in the evening, and valuation work might involve visiting clients outside of office hours. An auctioneer should:

• have a strong, clear voice
• be able to work under pressure
• be able to work with customers, advising them tactfully on value
• have a wide knowledge of the types of goods they are auctioning.

There are auction houses in most parts of the country, but vacancies are quite rare.

It is possible to start by approaching a firm of auctioneers for work as a saleroom assistant. The qualifications required will vary, but employers look for outgoing people with good communication and numerical skills.

To work in a major auction house, applicants need a degree, eg in fine or decorative arts, followed by professional qualifications. Arts, humanities, science or language degrees can be acceptable.

Once in employment, auctioneers can study for the examinations of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), by full-time or part-time study, or through distance learning.

With experience, auctioneers can move from smaller firms to the large prestigious auction houses. Within a firm, an auctioneer might be able to progress to a management role, and possibly become a partner in the business.

What does the role encounter?

The public face of an auctioneer is of a confident figure on a rostrum, running through all the items in a sale, allowing just enough time for each item to sell at its best price. The job involves a lot more background work, and auctioneers deal with many different kinds of auction.

Sale by auction is used in various situations to get the best market rate for sale items. The auctioning firm earns its money by taking a commission from both the buyer and seller. The different types of auction are usually divided into:

• Chattels - all kinds of moveable items, including furniture and household belongings, antiques and works of art, cars (both historic and modern) and machinery and equipment.

• Land and buildings - both houses and business premises can be sold by auction.

• Livestock - the traditional livestock market has been a part of rural life for many centuries, and although it has declined in importance, there are still many in operation.

An auctioneer must ensure that each item sells for the best price - both through the auctioning process on the day, and through organising and publicising the sale to the right people. Most auctioneers will be involved in preparing for the sale, researching the items, writing the descriptions and agreeing beforehand the reserve price (the lowest bid the seller will accept). They need a considerable level of expertise on the items they will be selling, as mistakes can be expensive. They must know when to consult a specialist expert to make sure they do not make a costly blunder. In a large auction house such as Sotheby’s or Christies in London, there will be a number of experts on hand, but in a country auctioneers, independent research is necessary.

Once an auction is underway, everything moves very fast and auctioneers have to stay alert, taking bids from the floor, and with more valuable items, on the phone. They have to decide how long to spend on selling each item, balancing achieving the best price with keeping the sale moving fast.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Auctioneering firms usually operate from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday. There may be occasional sales in the evening and valuation work might involve visiting clients outside of office hours. It may sometimes be necessary to work late when preparing for a big sale. Most auctions take place in salerooms, though the sale may be moved to a country house if all the items come from one source. Agricultural and livestock sales will often take place in the open. In smaller salerooms, auctioneers might help with moving and setting out heavy sale items, although this work would normally be carried out by porters. The working environment could be dusty during the sales of lower priced items.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Trainee and new entrants could expect to earn from £12,000 to £14,000 a year.
• With some experience, auctioneers can earn from £16,000 to £18,000, more in London.
• Senior managers can earn up to £30,000 or more.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• have a strong, clear voice
• have a friendly, confident manner
• be able to work under pressure
• be able to work with customers, advising them tactfully on value
• have a wide knowledge of the types of goods they are auctioning
• have a good visual memory to identify objects
• have a good business sense
• understand the legal aspects of the work in detail.

What type of training will I receive?

Training is mainly on the job, working with experienced auctioneers before taking on the responsibility of running a sale. Personal study to learn more about antiques and their valuation will be necessary.

Once in employment, graduates can work for a RICS diploma in fine art valuation through distance learning. Other relevant RICS courses include property valuation and management studies. The RICS is also planning to introduce an MA in fine arts valuation (available as a full-time, part-time or distance learning course) in association with a university. It is hoped that this will be available by September 2005.

Career Progression:

With experience, auctioneers can move from smaller firms to the large prestigious auction houses. They would expect to move jobs in order to gain promotion. Within a firm auctioneers might move on to management roles and possibly become partners in the business.

Very experienced auctioneers with the large, London auction houses, might get the chance to work in their overseas salerooms, eg in New York or Paris, or run special sales of works associated with particular countries.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:
Art Valuer
Chartered Surveyor
Estate Agent
Land Surveyor.

Where can I find further information?

Asset Skills, 2 The Courtyard, 48 New North Road, Exeter EX4 4EP. 01392 423399. Website: www.assetskills.org

The British Antique Dealers' Association, 20 Rutland Gate, London SW7 1BD. 020 7589 4128. Website: www.bada.org

De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH. 0116 255 1551. Website: www.dmu.ac.uk

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), 12 Great George Street, Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD. 0870 333 1600. Website: www.rics.org.uk

Southampton Institute, External Relations Service, East Park Terrace, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 0YN. 02380 319000. Website: www.solent.ac.uk


Other Useful Auctioneer Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Auctioneer job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Auctioneer Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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