Need an art degree?
What is an Art Auctioneer?
An art auctioneer works to sell pieces of art for the highest possible price, but this is just the more widely-known aspect of his or her job. Most of the time, the auctioneer is the individual who sets the price on the piece, unless his or her clients request a specific price or reserve. This requires an in-depth knowledge of art types and artists, as well as some general knowledge about counterfeits and reproductions. The art auctioneer also often markets the auction, which requires targeting the right group of potential buyers. Having a background in marketing helps with this aspect of auctioneering, and provides a more well-rounded resume to show potential employers/clients.
In addition to all of these duties, the art auctioneer must be great in front of the public, with the ability to motivate the crowd to bid on items. He or she must stay calm under pressure and be able to quickly judge the interest of the crowd for a particular item.
Most of the art auctioneer’s work is done behind the scenes as he or she researches products, find the right target market for a particular product, networks with art collectors and appraisers, and more. These tasks are most often done in an office setting. However, art auctioneers also work with the public during auction settings which may take place in galleries, studios or warehouse-type settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies art auctioneers as “demonstrators and product promoters.” Their data shows that the industry which employs the most demonstrators and product promoters is the advertising and public relations industry (24,990 employed in 2012).
There is no formal education requirement for this particular career according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, because it requires a significant amount of knowledge about art, it’s suggested that those interested in pursuing a career as an art auctioneer obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in an art-related field. Courses which will help expand the auctioneer’s portfolio and help make them a more well-rounded job candidate include marketing and advertising, public relations, and business-related courses.
Art auctioneers generally receive commissions for each piece of art they sell, so the actual yearly salary can differ from one auctioneer to the next. However, the BLS reports that the annual median salary for art auctioneers in 2012 was $23,860. Keep in mind that this is just the middle of the road; auctioneers who are particularly successful can earn significantly more than this. The states with the highest pay for art auctioneers are Maryland, Louisiana, Connecticut, New York and Georgia.
Individuals interested in this career will be happy to know that it is growing at a rate of 16%, which is significantly faster than the average growth rate for all other careers. As more and more individuals become interested in art, these professionals will be in even higher demand. States which have the highest employment levels of art auctioneers include Texas, New York, Florida, Michigan and Ohio.