How to Become a Certified Auctioneer in the United States

Auctioneers find items to sell, organize events and do the footwork to attract bidders to the events. With their fast speech, they encourage quicker decisions and sell as many items as possible in a short amount of time. Before you enter this exciting career field, you must understand the requirements and what to expect during and after training.

How To Become An Auctioneer

Although specific requirements vary between states and even counties for licensing, there are a few basic steps to becoming an auctioneer.

1. Get Your Diploma

If you have not yet graduated from high school or earned a GED, start by doing that. High school students should take extra credits for speech, business and math.

2. Attend Auctions

Spend some time observing different auctioneers. Take notes about what they do and their noticeable traits. If possible, ask the auctioneers if they will answer your questions.

3. Volunteer

Offer to become a volunteer with an auction company. You may have to start by cleaning or sorting auction items. However, you usually gain a chance to shadow auctioneers and will learn valuable lessons regardless of your role. Also, volunteer to work as an auctioneer at charity events. No license is required, and this helps build a good reputation for you within the community.

4. Seek Formal Training And Licensing

Certain states have schools for auctioneer training. Programs usually last several weeks. On-site training programs follow the auctioneer's daily duties, and some courses are offered online. Also, a few states accept apprenticeship programs to satisfy licensing requirements. The minimum licensing age is typically 18.

Auctioneer License Requirements

Some form of license or training is required in most states. The list of licensing and training requirements for each state may vary from state to state. Always check with your state's licensing entity for updates or changes to this information. Also, check with your city office to see if you need a business permit or other special licenses to operate locally as an auctioneer.

For example, your city may require a business permit whether there is a state licensing requirement or not. You will likely need a real estate license in most states to auction off real estate. Also, you usually need a license to sell livestock.

Auctioneering Classes And Apprenticeships

Auctioneers.org features a detailed list of auctioneering schools across the country. If you plan to move to another state, check to see if that state has a reciprocity allowance for your current state's license. Different states may have varying requirements for the required minimum number of education hours. A few states require an apprenticeship that is measured in contact hours or months. These are some of the most valuable lessons learned during your apprenticeship or auctioneering classes.

Values And Features Of Merchandise

You will learn about everything from popular items to rare antiques. However, the most important lesson to learn is how to find the values of items that you are unsure about. You must accurately appraise each item before auction. Also, you will learn how to find information about item features and functions. As an auctioneer, you must be familiar with features of different items to market them correctly and sell them for the highest price.

Breathing And Speaking Techniques

The fast, loud and concise speech that is typical of auctioneers takes practice. You will learn how to use special breathing techniques for long periods of fast speaking, and you will learn how to control your voice to keep it loud and strong at the same time.

Procuring Merchandise

Auctions often happen after difficult events such as someone losing their home, a job or even a family member. One of the most important aspects of finding merchandise is building good relationships within your community. You must be approachable, friendly and considerate. Since people may seek you through recommendations, you learn how to connect with doctors, funeral directors, clergy and other professionals.

Auction Organization

In addition to organizing the items for display during the auction, you have to set up plans. This involves securing a venue and advertising the auction in the right places. In training, you learn how to control the crowd and maintain the energy to keep the bidding constant and competitive. You also learn how to keep track of inventory, handle transactions and file paperwork. Auctioneers are responsible for ensuring legal and licensing compliance for all auctions.

Being A Licensed Auctioneer: What To Expect

If your state does not require training, the best way to enter the business is by volunteering or working for an auction company. For states requiring a license, the rules often apply to online or penny auctions as well. Check with your state about licensing if you plan to operate online.

Additional Fees

Some states require auctioneers to pay a bond or insurance with or without a license. Also, there are exam fees, licensing fees and renewal fees. These usually range between $100 and $300 each.

Continuing Education

Some states that require a license or training also require a certain number of hours of continuing education for license renewal. It is usually required every two years in applicable states.

Varying Pay

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data about auctioneer pay rates because of how variable they are. Auctioneers are usually paid on commission, which may be between 10 and 15 percent of the auction's total proceeds. The proceeds depend on the volume of items sold and their values. This means that your monthly pay depends on how much you work and the total commission per auction.

If you have to take a licensing exam, most states allow two attempts per year. For best results, plan ahead for the cost of training, exams and licensing fees.

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