Students have headed back to college, pupils to schools, but there are also a lot of new graduates and school leavers looking to their careers now. Should they consider becoming auctioneers?
Having started at the bottom and worked my up, I have no regrets. I still think the best way in is the traditional one: starting as a porter at one of the larger auction houses, graduating to cataloguing and developing specialist knowledge in your chosen field while studying for a fine arts valuation qualification. There aren’t many courses left around the country, but they are worth doing if this game is for you.
I have also been impressed with the focus and determination of many in their teens and early twenties who have already harnessed the internet to create micro businesses involving buying, selling and collecting. The internet has created new opportunities, such a drop-sales, which simply did not exist before because there was no way of conducting them. Generation Z may be concerned with disciplines that have not played a part in our collecting tradition up till now – trainers, video games and the like – but they still follow the same patterns and rules as art and antique disciplines: rarity, condition etc.
Best of all, this younger generation has not sat in a classroom to be taught this, but has explored this world for itself and understandably has become enthusiastic about it, both because it can be profitable and because it affords the professional a large degree of autonomy.
A lot of the auction business has already gone online and I have no doubt that more will in future. However, I also believe that there will always be brick-and-mortar salerooms for people to visit, view and handle the goods first, particularly at the top end of the market where prices run into the millions. We sell via both channels.
Auctioneering as a career still holds a lot of promise and the chances of setting up your own business and working for yourself in the long term are greater than in most other industries. It’s something you might want to have a think about.