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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

What about a national auctioneer’s license?

Kim is an auctioneer, and has been working as an auctioneer for 11 years.

She started her career selling personal and real property near her home in the Midwest.

Today, her primary business involves special event auctions for local television stations, and as such is asked to serve as an auctioneer all over the United States.

In order for Kim to get her state’s auctioneer’s license, she had to pass a test, pay a fee, and thereon complete periodic auctioneer continuing education classes.

However, since she started her special event auctions, she now has to have an auctioneer’s license in as many as 15 states.

Having this many licenses requires Kim to maintain those 15 separate licenses, continuing education hours and due dates, and varying license renewal dates.

Kim would much prefer there was some sort of “national auctioneer’s license” so she would have just one license to worry about, and the ability to work all over the United States as her job now requires.

And, Kim is hardly the only auctioneer talking about some sort of “national auctioneer’s license.” Basically, advocates of this concept say they want a system of auctioneer licensing such as:

  1. A license in one’s home state, and then be able to practice in other states … like a driver’s license.

  2. A license in one’s home state, and then by a nationwide reciprocal agreement, get a license in any other state without taking additional testing.

  3. A “national license” administered by the federal government, and be able to operate throughout the United States.

Although many believe that any of these three aforementioned auctioneer licensing scenarios would be an improvement, it seems none of these three alternatives are likely — and in fact all three are very unlikely.

Specifically …

  1. Most states which license auctioneers — although not all — earn a net income from auctioneer licensing. Therefore excusing licensing for those licensed in other states would necessarily involve a financial loss for that state. Too, all states which license auctioneers, license them in a slightly different manner — and therefore states would almost assuredly view other state’s requirements as either excessive or inadequate.

  2. States in a nationwide reciprocal system would retain their fee income. Yet, the federal government would be reluctant to mandate such an arrangement — and who else would administer? With the small number of auctioneers (when compared to other professions,) it would be difficult, at best, to justify the effort and coordination for a national reciprocal doctrine. Lastly, some states would not be comfortable with adopting a uniform testing format and/or continuing education — pointing to their state’s unique circumstances.

  3. Almost all states in the United States savor their sovereignty; in fact there is increased conversation about states exerting their sovereign rights further. Combining that with the federal government’s reluctance to nationalize licensing for any professions, a national license administered by the federal government seems very unlikely. Finally, with only a small number of auctioneers strongly desiring such a system, support would be difficult to substantiate.

Of note, there is The National Auctioneers License Law Officials Association (NALLOA) who endorses a forum for members to communicate, endorses reciprocity and promotes the common good in regulating the auction profession.

NALLOA looks for ways to improve reciprocity and make it easier for auctioneers to obtain and maintain a license in this manner; these efforts are commendable, and do further an understanding of various state auctioneer licensing laws.

Kim and many other auctioneers look forward to a day that they will have an easier way to auctioneer all over the United States — than to maintain multiple state licenses. Until then, it appears Kim will have to endure renewing those 15 licenses, taking those various continuing education classes, and keeping track of those dissimilar renewal dates.

And, Kim might well have to endure this current auctioneer licensing “system,” (or lack thereof) for years to come.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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