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Some occupational licenses are difficult to obtain. In a few states, a simple manicurist license takes 6 years to secure. Our question today is: is it cheaper and easier to work without a license? In particular, what about an auctioneer’s license?

In other words, in a state or other jurisdiction where an auctioneer’s license is required, us it cheaper and easier to just go without? What’s the worst thing that can happen regarding the lack of license? If a fine could/would be levied, how does it compare to the cost and expense of getting the license?

One such auctioneer told me,

I just do the auction. The license is about $350 I think and it takes a while to get, and the fine if I get caught — and I don’t expect to get caught — is only $100. Why bother getting the license?

Certainly one could make the argument that if the fine is less than the cost of the license … and most state auctioneer regulatory agencies are not well staffed, why bother? Yet, is this the best strategy? It’s not.

First, having the [necessary] auctioneer’s license allows the public a place to file a complaint and have an advocate in any dispute. As well, other licensed auctioneers are burdened with license fees and possible continuing education where someone who’s not licensed is not — thus creating an inequitable commercial environment.

Too, a person or organization utilizing an unlicensed individual as an auctioneer (where a license is required) could be found to have some potential liability with consignments, sellers and/or buyers where contracts created by an unlicensed individual could be found voidable or even void.

Maybe more importantly and specifically, if an unlicensed auctioneer doesn’t pay his seller promptly or at all — a seller would not likely qualify under any possible recovery fund for reimbursement, and be forced to find an attorney and file a claim.

I have argued for years that good licensing is good, and bad licensing is bad. In essence, a license agency who is an advocate for the profession being governed, not presuming licensee guilt without all the facts and not primarily concerned with job preservation is appropriate.

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.