Recruitment: You need to use your head and a hammer

Can you command a room and get people to part with their money? Then try auctioneering, says Hazel Davies

In times of incipient recession and rising repossession, the only people who can expect to do well are receivers and auctioneers. So how do you go about honing your hammer skills?

Auctioneers fall into three main categories: those who deal in chattels (movable items such as furniture, antiques and fine art, cars and machinery); those who sell land and buildings; and those who deal in livestock.

If you want to be an auctioneer, says Charles Lucas, you need to have an aptitude for it – rather like acting. "You have to be able to hold an audience, sometimes for long periods, and develop an atmosphere that is conducive to the buyers wanting to buy and come back another day."

Lucas is an auctioneer and partner at Dreweatt Neate, in Chippenham, which specialises in property. Auctioneering was the family business. "I suppose I was always going to follow in my father's footsteps from about the age of 14," he says. "He had a market town practice with a weekly cattle market, a monthly chattels auction and occasional property sales." Lucas's father advised him to go to another firm for training, which he did before qualifying as a rural chartered surveyor.

The most exciting part of auctioneering, says Lucas, is coming across the unexpected. That happens when the seller, and sometimes the auctioneer, is surprised at the price achieved. "It's great when there's a hush over the room, followed by spontaneous applause created by the drama," he says.

The job can also be daunting, particularly when there are no bids. Each auctioneer has a style which suits them and the lots they sell. Livestock auctioneers, for example, tend to be quicker than those in fine art or property, where a missed bid could be very expensive.

There are no formal qualifications for being an auctioneer and requirements vary from employer to employer. It is possible to make a direct approach to a firm of auctioneers.

If you want to work in fine art, a related art degree helps, as do property qualifications if you intend to be a property auctioneer. The major auction houses usually look for a degree in fine or decorative arts but most training is on the job. Once in employment, potential hammer-bangers can work for a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) diploma in fine art valuation or property valuation through distance learning.

Hannah Hill, 29, from Cheadle Hulme near Manchester, works for Eddisons auction house in Leeds. She says she wanted to be an auctioneer from a very young age and to that end embarked on a degree in fine arts and auctioneering at Sheffield University.

However, it wasn't quite what she wanted, so she took a year out and then did a three-year surveying course at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Because her course was accredited by the RICS, she was able to do all the training for the Young Auctioneer of The Year competition, which the RICS organised.

But jobs in auctioneering are few and far between, according to Hill. So she did property management for a year in Bristol before going back to the North-west. "I worked for the local authority as a surveyor for four years, got married, had a baby and finally got a job with Eddisons as an auction manager."

Her surveying experience certainly helped her get the job but the fact remains that you don't need to be qualified to start your training, she says. The first time you run an auction can be terrifying. "The adrenalin rush is immense," she says. "You have to command the attention of everybody."

Lead auctions can take hours and you can be on the rostrum for an hour at a time, which can be mentally straining, she says. "You have to watch what's going on, try not to clonk the hammer down, keep on top of where the bidding is and where the reserve is, and keep an eye on the vendors if they are in the room."

Hill is one of the very few female property auctioneers in the North-west. "I know of one other in London," she says, "but I don't ever feel discriminated against. I am a working mother with all the responsibilities that brings and I manage very well. Everyone is very supportive. Granted, I stick out like a sore thumb at forums, but everyone's really nice and I quite enjoy being a novelty!"

Where to train

* Southampton Solent University offers a BA in art, design and practices of display – www.solent.ac.uk

* Sotheby's Institute offers private courses, including an accredited degree studying the arts business – www.sothebys.co.uk

* Christie's runs an auctioneers' "school" known as "Auctioneer Idol" every other year for employees who have worked for the firm for more than three years – www.christies.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future