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Education And Training, Outlook, A Short List Of Auction Terms, For More InformationSalary

If you like to talk fast, you could have a lot of fun as an auctioneer. Auctioneers sell almost anything—livestock, machinery, cars, furniture, and fine art.

People sell items through an auction because they think they will get more money for their wares. Auctions also have the advantage of attracting more potential customers for an item than a retail store would. A farmer looking for an antique piece of farming equipment could waste weeks of his or her time searching for it. But the farmer would drive for miles if he'd seen a listing for an auction advertising that piece of equipment.

The auctioneer advertises the sale in order to attract a large crowd. The advertisement should include the date, time, place, type of items to be auctioned, and a description of some of the more popular or unique items. These ads will then be placed in newspapers and on radio and TV stations. The more the auctioneer knows about the merchandise and the customers, the more effective the advertising will be.

To have a successful auction, the auctioneer must be familiar with the items that are offered for sale. The auctioneer (or the seller) writes out a description for each item. In some cases, a minimum bid is suggested. The auctioneer arranges the goods so that potential buyers can peruse them before the auction. Auction items are arranged in “lots” of similar items—books, furniture, jewelry, and so on.

As the auction starts, the auctioneer's job is to get the buyers excited and in the mood to bid. This is where the auctioneer's bid-calling talent comes in. Bid-calling is the sing-song, almost incomprehensible chant that the auctioneer calls out as bids are taken. Good auctioneers are showy and make jokes during the bidding to keep the audience interested. By getting the buyers to increase their bids, the auctioneer gets a good deal for the seller. Once a sale is made, the auctioneer or an assistant records the sale, gets the purchaser's name and address, collects the money, and arranges for the delivery of the item if necessary.

Agricultural auctioneers work outdoors in all weather conditions. Others may work inside, but they are on their feet for long periods of time. When auctioneers are not conducting an auction, they are checking the market to purchase items to auction and to keep up with current prices.

Auctioneers need a strong voice and the physical stamina to keep the audience energized throughout the auction. Auctions can be stressful, especially when two or more people have their hearts set on the same item. The auctioneer has to have crowd-handling skills to keep people under control and to keep the loser from being too disappointed. The auctioneer's goal is to get people to buy something on the spur of the moment. Many buyers have given in to an auctioneer's routine and have gone away with something that they swore they would never buy. A good auctioneer convinces the buyers that they need the item, establishes the price, and closes the deal. Unlike many other sales, this one happens in a matter of minutes.

A highlight of the auctioneer's year is participation in state-fair bid-calling contests. Auctioneers vie with each other to impress the judges and the audience. The prizes are modest, but the attention is great.


As with many occupations, the amount you can earn as an auctioneer depends on how much training you have and how much determination you have to succeed. Auctioneers can earn anywhere from $16,000 to $70,000 per year.

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