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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

How many auctioneers are there?

We attempted to calculate how many auctioneers there were in the United States in 2010. At that time, we estimated there were between 80,000 and 100,000 auctioneers based largely on anyone who would claim to be an auctioneer:

A couple notes here in early 2019: The auction community now includes many who only sell online (no live bid calling;) as well, there are far more women and others of so-called minorities in the auction business today — in other words, there are less “51 to 65 year-old white males” as a percent of the entire auctioneer population.

In speaking to many online-only auction providers (many former and/or current live bid callers,) a good portion of these folks doing no more live auctions don’t necessarily consider themselves auctioneers. As one put it, “I was an auctioneer for 30 years, and now we provide an auction service — but I don’t ‘auction’ anymore.” Another told me, “We sell things at auction, but I’m no longer the auctioneer.”

However, there are many online auction providers who have an auctioneer owner who does serve as the auctioneer for various events throughout the year and/or still considers himself/herself an auctioneer — so not all online auction companies have no auctioneers — and in fact many do.

Several auctioneer license states have reported a 5%, 7% and even a 10% reduction in licensed auctioneers since 2009. This decline is attributed to deaths, retirements and mergers as well as transitioning to online-only practices often not requiring any license. If we had 87,500 people in the United States who would consider themselves an auctioneer in 2009, I would estimate we have more like 84,000 auctioneers here in 2019.

Some have asked me what we can do to increase the number of auctioneers in the United States; likewise, “How can we get the “younger generation” interested in pursuing a career as an auctioneer?” For me, there is a simple answer — get kids aged 6-13 involved (exposed) to the auction business, as there is a tendency for young adults to follow what they are introduced to at those ages.

The National Auctioneers Association has long instituted programs that do just that including the “Children’s Auction” held at Conference & Show and a new online “Auction Adventures Game.” As well, auctioneers around the country routinely involve younger family members in their businesses.

Can we do more? I think so. As we wrote in 2017, as our country becomes more diverse (color, race, language, religion) we need to seek out dissimilar people to join in the auction industry. That article is here:

Are there opportunities for those wanting to enter the auction profession? Can you make a good living as an auctioneer? The answer to both those questions is, “Yes!” What are the steps? Attend auction school, find a mentor or someone to work under, join your state and national auctioneer associations, get involved and take good notes, work hard and then eventually branch out on your own — this is a proven method countless successful auctioneers have followed.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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