When you were a child, you probably never thought to say, "An auctioneer" when relatives asked you what you'd be when you grew up. But working as an auctioneer can be both interesting and lucrative. Contrary to what you might think, it takes more than a fast-talking gift of gab to succeed as an auctioneer. If you have the personality for it, you can make a good salary.
Not all auctioneers have professional education in their field, but most of the best ones probably do. As many as 35 percent of auctioneers had a college education in 2005, according to an National Auctioneers Association survey, CNN Money reported in 2005. More than half of all states required auctioneers to be licensed in 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some require attendance at an auctioneering school, which can last anywhere from several weeks to several months. Auctioneers who sell houses must have a real estate license in most states, the NAA reports.
Where They Work
Auctioneers don't just sell livestock or furniture. Houses, cars and all types of personal property are sold at auction. Some auctions profit the sellers; others profit a certain charity. Auctioneers work in a variety of locations, from climate-controlled showrooms to barns. Conducting the actual auction takes just a small amount of an auctioneers time, less than 5 percent, NAA director Robert Shively reported in 2005. Setting up the auction, advertising and marketing take up the lion's share of an auctioneer's time.
If you're shy and have a soft little voice, auctioneering probably isn't the right career choice for you, the NAA cautions. Auctioneers must have certain leadership qualities to make their auctions a success. You need to know how to keep a crowd interested and bidding, while injecting enough humor to defuse potentially tense bidding situations. Auctioneering can be hard on your voice, even if you use a public address system.
Most auctioneers work on a commission basis and earn a portion of the sales. Only 20 percent work full time, according to a 2005 CNN money article. But if you're one of the few full-timers -- and especially if you own your own auctioneering business -- it's not out of the realm of possibility to make more than $100,000, CNN Money reports.