This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Auctioneers take charge of public or private auctions. They sell goods, property or livestock on behalf of the owner (or vendor) to people offering the highest price.
Auctioneers usually get paid on commission, so how much they earn depends on the value of sales at the auctions they conduct.
Pay for auctioneers varies:
- Most auctioneers get paid on commission, so how much they earn depends on the value of the sales at the auctions they conduct. Some, such as real estate auctioneers, might get a flat fee of about $400 an auction.
- Some auctioneers own their own business, so how much they earn depends on how well their business is doing.
- A few experienced auctioneers are paid a salary, which is usually about $100,000 a year or more.
Auctioneers often supplement their income by doing other related work. For example, a real estate auctioneer might also be a real estate agent.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Auctioneers may do some or all of the following:
- inspect goods for auction and estimate their value
- keep a database of goods for auction
- arrange the place, date and advertising for an auction, and create and distribute auction catalogues
- group items into lots for sale, and decide what order lots will be sold at the auction
- provide information on goods to buyers
- call for bids and look for bidding signals
- help arrange finance for payment of goods or insurance
- keep a record of sales.
Skills and knowledge
Auctioneers need to have knowledge of:
- the details of the products they are selling
- product trends and their market values
- the Auctioneers' Act and other relevant legislation.
- may work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, depending on timings of auctions
- work in offices and auction rooms, or on the site where the auction is being held such as wool stores, stockyards, and fruit and produce markets.
What's the job really like?
Mike Little - Auctioneer
“Recently I completed an auction and sold 49 out of the 50 cars under the hammer. It was awesome walking off the auction stand knowing I’d just about aced it.”
Selling that first car is a confidence boost
Mike Little works for a motor vehicle auction house where auctioneering is a big part of his role as sales manager.
“I remember the first time I went up on the stand – I had butterflies in my stomach. But getting that first car sold in a live auction really boosts your confidence and then you’re away!”
Developing your own style by observing others
The best way to develop in the role, says Mike, is to watch other good auctioneers. “Every auctioneer does it slightly differently; they each have their own style. So you’ll take little bits from everybody else to develop your own thing.”
Happy buyers and sellers brings a sense of achievement
Days when customers show their delight with the service are the best, says Mike. “Sometimes when I put the hammer down and say ‘Sold’, the buyers are really happy. If you can combine that with ringing the vendor, and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve done really well for you tonight’, then that sense of achievement is great.”
- The thrill of a live auction and the satisfaction of seeing happy buyers and sellers.
- Developing your own auctioneering style.
- Your role as an auctioneer is often combined with other sales roles.
- It can be challenging to get a foot in the door.
There are no specific training requirements to become an auctioneer. However, you must be registered as an individual auctioneer or employed by a company that holds auctioneer registration before you can practise.
Learning on the job and through online courses
Most auctioneers learn how to conduct auctions through being an auctioneer's understudy or a bidding assistant.
Auctioneers can take online training courses from Australia, as there are no courses based in New Zealand. Some auction houses also run in-house training courses.
- Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia website - information about online training courses
NCEA Level 2 maths and English is usually preferred.
Auctioneers need to be:
- excellent at public speaking and holding people's attention
- observant, willing to learn
- persuasive and persistent
- able to work well under pressure, think quickly, and show initiative
- patient and trustworthy
- good with numbers
- skilled at organising and making decisions.
They also need to have a good memory.
Clarity is very important – I've seen buyers in the crowd wanting to bid, but they're not sure what the auctioneer is saying. You've got to adjust to your buyers in terms of speed and really focus on your pronunciation.
Mike Little - Auctioneer
Useful experience for auctioneers includes:
- work as an auctioneer understudy or bidding assistant, clerk or auction room attendant
- office work in an auction house
- work in specific industries in which auctions are held - for example, working with livestock is useful experience for stock and station auctioneers
- work in sales.
Auctioneers need to have:
- a clear, distinct and strong voice with no speech impediments.
- good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
- reasonable fitness levels as they often have to help move heavy items such as furniture
- a neat and tidy appearance when auctioning from the stand.
Before you can work as an auctioneer you must be:
- registered as an individual auctioneer
- or employed by a business that holds company auctioneer registration.
If you are employed by a company, you must not be disqualified from practising under the criteria for individual auctioneer registration. However, you may also still choose to register as an individual auctioneer, even though you are employed by a registered company.
You may be exempt from registration if you are already a licensed real estate agent and auctioning land or property.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about registering as an auctioneer
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about licensed real estate agents
Find out more about training
- Auctioneers Association of NZ Inc
- firstname.lastname@example.org - 0800 289 282 - www.auctioneers.org.nz/
- Real Estate Institute of NZ
- email@example.com - 0800 473 469 - www.reinz.org.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to industry sources, the number of individual licensed auctioneers fell by 9% between 2012 and 2013.
Demand for auctioneers is limited because:
- auctioneering is a small occupation, with few vacancies arising
- people are increasingly using online auction websites – such as Trade Me – to buy and sell goods themselves, rather than going through an auctioneer.
Opportunities particularly limited in auctioneering household products and art
Job opportunities in general auctioneering (household items) and art/antique auctioneering are particularly limited because:
- most general auctioneers own their own businesses, or work in family companies, and employ few people
- only a few art/antique auction houses exist in New Zealand
- people in art/antique auction houses tend to stay in the job for many years.
Entry-level work best way to get auctioneering job
The best way to find work as an auctioneer is to get general office work at an auction house, or stock and station companies such as PGG Wrightson or Elders. Most auctioneers start out in these types of jobs, then work their way up to becoming licensed auctioneers.
Auctioneers work for auction houses and other merchants
Auctioneers may work for:
- auction houses selling general goods or art and antiques
- stock and station agents, auctioning livestock
- fruit and produce merchants
- motor vehicle auction houses
- real estate companies.
Auctioneers may own their own business. Auction houses selling general goods are often family-owned businesses.
- Auctioneers Association of New Zealand, 'Directory of Licensed Auctioneers', accessed August 2014, (www.auctioneers.org.nz).
- Fahey, T, national secretary, Auctioneers' Association of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, August 2013.
- Ministry of Business, Information and Employment, 'Auctioneers' Registration', accessed August 2014, (www.auctioneers.org.nz).
- Ministry of Consumer Affairs, 'Changes in Consumer Rights', accessed August 2014, (www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz).
- New Zealand Legislation, 'Auctioneers Act, 2013', accessed August 2014, (www.legislation.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Auctioneers may be either licensed auctioneers or named sellers.
Named sellers can conduct auctions for their employer only, whereas licensed auctioneers can work freeleance. Named sellers may progress to becoming licensed auctioneers by getting an individual licence.
Both types of auctioneer may specialise in the following areas:
- Arts and Collectables Auctioneer
- Arts and collectables auctioneers auction antique goods, fine arts and rare collectable items. Within this area of auctioneering it is possible to specialise further in areas such as silver, Persian rugs, furniture, jewellery, fine art, paintings, tribal art and artefacts or dolls.
- Fruit and Produce Auctioneer
- Fruit and produce auctioneers auction edible goods.
- Auto Auctioneer
- Auto auctioneers auction vehicles and vehicle parts.
- General Auctioneer
- General auctioneers auction items such as whiteware or furniture.
- Real Estate Auctioneer
- Real estate auctioneers auction houses and buildings.
- Stock and Station Auctioneer
- Stock and station auctioneers auction livestock.
Last updated 29 May 2017