Auction houses offer a wide variety of experience for anyone who has an interest in art and antiques. Finding employment with one can lead to a rewarding and educational career. Working for an auction houses is a fast-paced career with a great deal of learning opportunities. Be comfortable with the possibilities of developing skills outside of your comfort zone. It can be very rewarding and satisfying work and an experience unlike any other.
Auction houses are a learning environment. Knowing your interests prior to an interview can set you apart from other job candidates. Be it Chinese wool rugs or mid-century modern furniture, showing knowledge of a subject is an important first step to entering the auction field. Smaller auction houses offer great entry-level positions if you do not have a degree or are just getting started. Many of the larger auction houses require higher education, expertise in specific departments and even an auctioneer's license.
Your resume should highlight skills that auction houses regularly use. Typing and research are key skills commonly required. Digital photography and graphic design are also a plus, as many auction houses upload their catalogues to the Internet and develop their own advertising in-house. Public speaking and excellent writing are also important skills for prospective employees to have. Cold calling and marketing specific pieces to important collectors is a regular occurrence prior to an auction.
If you have writing samples, product photography or graphic design pieces in your portfolio, having them with you during an interview will raise you above the competition. Being able to talk about your skills and show your creative talents will give the auction house a better feel for how you will fit into the company. Many auction houses like you to be able to perform multiple job functions.
While it is often possible to find a job at an auction house without a higher degree, if you want to advance your career or apply for a specialised position, having a bachelors or masters degree in art history is often advantageous. This education gives you a solid background on important artists, movements and styles that you will commonly encounter in the auction world. Art history programs also allow you to specialise in the field according to your interests, which makes you more appealing for a position that requires your particular specialisation.