Auctioneers oversee public sales of a range of items, including automobiles, personal property, real estate, art and jewelry. They make sure that items sell at the highest prices by coaxing prospective buyers to outbid each other. They describe items, take bids from prospective buyers and announce how much something has sold for. Several factors affect how much an auctioneer earns.
According to a salary calculator at Indeed.com, auctioneers earn an average of $54,000 a year. Most work on commission, getting only a percentage of the monies raised at an auction, reports the National Auctioneers Association, or NAA, usually between 10 percent and 15 percent. Auctioneers who work full time earn more than those who work part time, according to the NAA, though many auctioneers have a second job to help make ends meet. The NAA also reports that the payment structure is often different for auctioneers who work as employees for auction houses and those who work under contracts with sellers.
With an average income of nearly $80,000 a year, auctioneers earn more in Chicago than elsewhere in the country, according to a salary calculator at Salaryexpert.com. Auctioneers in San Francisco and New York City fare nearly as well, earning between $70,000 and $75,000. Los Angeles and Houston round out the top-five cities for auctioneers, with average salaries in these cities ranging between $53,000 and $58,000.
Depending on the state where you live, you may need a license before you can work as an auctioneer. The licensing boards in Pennsylvania and Michigan, for example, require auctioneers to register and apply for a standard auctioneer’s license. Auctioneers who oversee the sale of vehicles at auctions in Michigan must also be licensed as a vehicle broker. Auctioneers selling real property may also need a real estate license, according to the NAA. You may need to take a class on working as an auctioneer or pass a test. Check with the licensing agency in the state where you live to find out what you need to do before you can legally oversee sales and begin earning a commission.
To succeed as an auctioneer, you need to be both a showman and a businessman. You need to be able to captivate an audience and get them to spend money, often more than an item is listed for and even more than they likely would have spent under different circumstances. You also need to be able to attract an audience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most auctioneers fulfill a range of marketing and advertising duties and also help identify and attract prospective buyers and sellers. And because how much an auctioneer earns is directly tied to how much buyers spend, the bigger the crowd, the bigger the paycheck.