The crowd stirs as Uladia Taylor rattles off an almost indecipherable litany of items and corresponding bids. Her voice commands the attention of the audience. With the final strike of her gavel and an authoritative, “Sold!” a flight for eight on a personal jet is off the block. Another bidder wins a weekend at a posh Italian resort. In a mere 25 minutes, the charity auction fetches $106,000.
“I love the business interaction of buying and selling,” says Taylor, who has served as an auctioneer for personal property, charity, and art and real estate auctions for the last 17 years. “I enjoy the interaction and the wonderful dynamic of competition.”
Taylor discovered her talent by happenstance in 1989 when she was recruited to work at a surplus equipment auction for an Atlanta-area public school system. Armed with the gift for gab and a pair of old roller skates to navigate the enormous warehouse, Taylor was an instant hit. She became known as “the roller skating auctioneer” and was encouraged by her then-supervisor to take her hobby seriously. Shortly thereafter, Taylor, 50, enrolled in classes for formal training.
Over time, she has gained significant recognition for her side gig. She worked as an auctioneer for the DeKalb County Board of Education for 17 years and has been a purchasing supervisor for close to a decade. In a field dominated by white men, Taylor made a name for herself. She is the first licensed black female auctioneer in the state of Georgia and the state’s sole black female real estate auctioneer. In pursuing her passion, she has blazed a trail for aspiring auctioneers. She is one of 90 auctioneers in the U.S. and Canada to receive the Certified Auctioneers Institute designation and one of 79 auctioneers nationwide to become a Certified Estate Specialist.
Each year, Taylor serves as auctioneer for more than 50 schools, churches, and Greek organizations. With her trademark style and wit, she has turned a side gig into a source of pride and passion.
How to Get a License: A high school diploma or GED is required. Complete a state-approved auction program or complete an apprenticeship under a licensed auctioneer. Aspiring auctioneers must pass a written exam and undergo a background check.
Auctioneer Schools: There are more than 25 schools nationwide. Learn the trademark auctioneer chant, how to market your service and sales, and how to get started in the auction business.
State Requirements: An auctioneers license is required in 27 states. To become a real estate auctioneer, you must obtain a real estate license. Some cities and counties require a permit or local license for each auction.
Associations: Contact the National Auctioneers Association (www.auctioneers.org) and the National Auctioneers Foundation (www.auctioneersfoundation.org).
By the Numbers: About 5% of U.S. auctioneers are women, less than 1% are people of color. Ninety-seven percent of live auction attendees bid; 92% make a purchase. Auctions began in 1600s as a means of selling books.