An auctioneer


Auctioneers conduct auctions by accepting bids and declaring goods sold.

An auctioneer typically performs the following duties:

  • appraises and lists property for auction
  • organises advertising, catalogues and other publicity for auctions
  • consults vendors and sets reserve prices
  • describes property presented and the conditions of sale
  • asks for or sets opening bids
  • accepts bids from potential buyers
  • closes sales to the highest bidders.

Auctioneers sell various kinds of property at public sales. Auction sales may be held for individuals or businesses or by court order. Most auctioneers specialize in one type of merchandise, such as antiques, livestock, real estate, industrial equipment, or inventory liquidation. Many of these workers are self-employed, meaning they are hired on a job-by-job basis. Others, such as those employed by art and antique galleries, may be retained on a long-term basis.

Auctioneers are paid on a commission basis, which means they are given a percentage of the selling price of each item; therefore, they try to get the highest possible price for each item. When an item is sold, one of the auctioneer’s assistants hands it to the buyer while another acts as cashier and record keeper. Auctioneers usually speak dramatically and very rapidly. They use their own jargon to keep the audience excited and entertained.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to auctioneer:

auctioneer for personal property
auctioneer for real estate
market auctioneer
trainee auctioneer
auctioneer for personal goods
sale auctioneer
senior auctioneer

Working conditions

Auctioneers are in an exciting and demanding line of work. Their work is highly diversified and requires good organizational and promotional skills, effective public speaking, and a knack for entertaining audiences. They need physical strength because they frequently carry heavy objects up to the auction block.

They also need stamina because they conduct auctions while standing and talk nonstop for long periods of time.

Auctioneers may work evenings and weekends. Some, especially those who are self-employed, work more than forty hours a week. Many work only part time and have other jobs as well.

Minimum qualifications

Most auctioneers need at least a high school diploma. However, some auctioneers choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or communications.

Auctioneers receive most of their training through internships and apprenticeships. During an internship, they will work under the supervision of an experienced auctioneer. They will learn how to conduct auctions, how to interact with bidders and how to manage the sale.

Auctioneers can also complete an apprenticeship, which involves working under the supervision of an experienced auctioneer for a period of time. During an apprenticeship, they will learn how to conduct auctions, how to interact with bidders and how to manage the sale. They will also learn about the business side of auctioneering, including how to manage finances and how to handle the paperwork.

Depending on the jurisdiction in which the position is located, auctioneers may need to be certified. The certification may involve a criminal background check and a written exam.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Auctioneer is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Auctioneer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to auctioneer.

wholesale merchant in agricultural machinery and equipment
wholesale merchant in agricultural raw materials, seeds and animal feeds
wholesale merchant in beverages
wholesale merchant in chemical products
wholesale merchant in china and other glassware

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of auctioneer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of auctioneer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

auction house manager
director of compliance and information security in gambling
licensing manager
airport director
aviation communications and frequency coordination manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of auctioneer.

  • Items specialty available for auction: Nature of the items to be auctioned such as overstock furniture, real estate, livestock, etc.
  • Auction characteristics: Specifications of auctions and different auction types, e.g. open vs. closed auctions; bidding strategies such as chandelier bids, bid shading, etc.
  • Product comprehension: The offered products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of auctioneer.

  • Present items during auction: Describe auction items; provide relevant information and discuss item history and value in order to encourage bidding.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Initiate contact with sellers: Identify sellers of commodities and establish contact.
  • Set auction listing agreement: Set up a contract executed by the auctioneer and the seller; list the terms of the agreement and the rights and responsibilities of every party involved.
  • Perform auction chant: Perform bid calling and develop an individual style with filler words and variable speed of speech.
  • Apply numeracy skills: Practise reasoning and apply simple or complex numerical concepts and calculations.
  • Facilitate the bidding process: Set the starting bid for items to be auctioned, and continue to ask for more bids; stimulate buying desire of bidders.
  • Prepare for auction: Identify and set up location for auction; prepare and display auctioned items; prepare the auction room by setting seats and microphones.
  • Arrange security of goods for auction: Arrange transportation, insurance, and safety and security regulations for goods to be sold at an auction.
  • Close sales at auction: Officially declare the items sold to the highest bidder; obtain the buyer’s personal details in order to close the contract after the auction.
  • Select items for auction: Research and select products to be auctioned.
  • Initiate contact with buyers: Identify buyers of commodities and establish contact.
  • Keep records of bid history: Keep records of all the bids made during or after an auction.
  • Advertise auction sales: Promote auction sales on radio and TV, in trade magazines, online and via catalogue distribution and other channels.
  • Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
  • Build business relationships: Establish a positive, long-term relationship between organisations and interested third parties such as suppliers, distributors, shareholders and other stakeholders in order to inform them of the organisation and its objectives.
  • Create auction catalogue: Compose auction catalogues with current items up for auction; include recent pictures and terms and conditions of the sale.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of auctioneer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Art history: The history of art and artists, the artistic trends throughout centuries and their contemporary evolutions.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of auctioneer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Apply conflict management: Take ownership of the handling of all complaints and disputes showing empathy and understanding to achieve resolution. To be fully aware of all Social Responsibility protocols and procedures, and to be able to deal with a problem gambling situation in a professional manner with maturity and empathy.
  • Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
  • Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Exude enthusiasm during the auction sessions: Transmit enthusiasm through words and attitude toward the present people to the auction towards the goods to be auctioned.
  • Identify new business opportunities: Pursue potential customers or products in order to generate additional sales and ensure growth.

ISCO group and title

3339 – Business services agents not elsewhere classified

  1. Auctioneer – ESCO
  2. Auctioneer | Your Career
  3. Job Description for an Auctioneer – Chron
  4. Auctioneer Job Description –
  5. Auctioneer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  6. Featured image: By Portable Antiquities Scheme from London, England – Auctioneer gets ready, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on February 18, 2023

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