Antique Dealer Careers

How to become an antique dealer

What does an antique dealer do?

Antique dealers buy and sell antique objects and collectors' items. They may deal in a wide range of antiques or specialise in a particular field such as jewellery, glass, furniture or china.

Antique dealing involves acquiring items from salesrooms, auctions, markets and trade fairs, and selling them to the general public from shops or from stalls in antique centres. Some antique specialist dealers may work from home, buying and selling to order. With usage of the internet increasing many dealers now buy and sell some items online. Minor antique restoration work may be necessary.

An important part of the work is researching the identity and potential value of objects. As antiques have no fixed price, dealers must be able to negotiate purchases and sales on an individual basis. They may also advise owners on the value of their antiques for insurance or sales purposes.

What's the working environment like for an antique dealer?

There are no set hours of work. Antique dealers have to be prepared to work long and unsocial hours, including weekends and evenings.

A driving licence is essential as the work may involve a fair amount of travelling. Nights away from home may be necessary.

The work may also involve lifting and carrying.

What does it take to become an antique dealer?

To be an antique dealer, you should:

  • have a passionate interest in the items you deal in
  • be willing to research, study and learn from others
  • be interested in history and preferably a specific period
  • have good valuation skills
  • have strong nerves and negotiating skills
  • have good judgement and the ability to make quick decisions
  • have business ability and a good sales technique.

Though there are no set requirements for getting into this line of work, knowledge of antiques, the market and having funds to get started will provide a good foundation for you. 

There are some paths your can take to get a foot in the door. You could:

  • work in an antiques shop as an assistant or general worker
  • work in a salesroom or auction house. Roles there include porter, clerk, cataloguer or auctioneer
  • become a collector or researcher of antiques, which some people do as a hobby. They then set up stalls at fairs or markets or even go on to open a shop.


Antique dealer career opportunities

There are opportunities to become a specialist dealer, valuer or auctioneer with enough experience as an antique dealer.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming an antique dealer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Antique Dealers' Association (BADA)
20 Rutland Gate
Tel: 020 7589 4128

London and Provincial Antique Dealers Association (LAPADA)
535 King's Road
SW10 0SZ
Tel: 020 7823 3511


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