How to become valuer/auctioneer

What does a valuer/auctioneer do?

Valuers who specialise in fine and decorative arts assess the market price of antiques and collectables for clients. These can include items such as paintings, sculptures, jewellery, porcelain, books and furniture. Valuers make a detailed examination of the condition, appearance, age and authenticity of the item before arriving at a valuation figure.

A valuer must have an appreciation of an item's aesthetic, cultural and social importance, together with in-depth knowledge of the current and future market trends for particular pieces, periods or categories of items.

Valuations can be undertaken for a number of purposes including inheritance tax, insurance, loss adjustment, family division, probate, bankruptcy and liquidation. The work includes compiling detailed inventories of items, ensuring the safe transportation of goods to the sale or auction, producing auction catalogues and other marketing materials, and conducting the auction process.

Valuers may be called upon to act as expert witnesses in disputed cases which have gone to court.

What's the working environment like for a valuer/auctioneer?

Hours are often irregular, involving evening and weekend work.

Some valuers are based in offices in dealerships and auction houses; others may travel to clients' homes or businesses to discuss and carry out valuations. Travel could be local, national or overseas, depending on client requirements.


What does it take to become a valuer/auctioneer?

To be a valuer of fine arts and antiques you should:

  • have an excellent knowledge of the sector
  • have an awareness of market trends and how to interpret them
  • have excellent presentation and communication skills
  • be able to pay close attention to detail
  • have up-to-date knowledge of relevant legislation
  • be willing to undergo continual professional development.

In-depth knowledge of your particular specialism is important for this job and both paid and unpaid work is available for you to build your experience within this line of work. 

You can gain experience working as a porter, assistant or cataloguer in an auction house or an antiques business where you can learn a great deal on the job.

Alternatively you can joina  graduate scheme where  a degree will usually be needed. This could be related subjects like history of art or fine art. 

Valuer/auctioneer career opportunities

Opportunities for valuers of fine arts exist within auction houses, and fine art or antique dealerships. Insurance firms also employ qualified valuers to work in the industry, particularly in the area of loss adjustment.

Posts may be available with museums and galleries or with private collectors, managing their collections and overseeing insurance, conservation or restoration work. Additionally, regional and national heritage organisations employ valuers in specialist roles to assess acquisitions.

Many valuers set up their own business in the antiques trade, offering a valuation service as well as buying and selling fine arts and antiques.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a valuer/auctioneer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Surveyor Court
Westwood Way
Tel: 0870 333 1600

The National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers

Christie's Education
153 Great Titchfield Street
Tel: 020 7665 4350

Sotheby's Institute of Art
30 Oxford Street
Tel: 020 7462 3232

Asset Skills
2 The Courtyard
48 New North Road
Helpline: 08000 567160

Kingston University
Knights Park
Tel: 020 8547 7047


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