How to become an Art Valuer. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Art Valuer do?
As an art valuer, you would assess how much individual artworks or collections are worth. You would advise people and organisations who want to sell, buy or insure artworks, including paintings, sculpture, jewellery, porcelain, books and furniture.
Your tasks would typically include:
- assessing the condition, quality and age of the object or collection
- checking whether objects have been restored or changed in any way
- checking the origin of the object or collection by examining receipts or other proof of how the owner obtained it
- carrying out research using reference books and the internet
- consulting specialists and historians
- keeping up to date with current prices and demand
- preparing written evaluations for clients
- preparing catalogues and running auctions.
- acting as an expert witness in disputed cases which have been taken to court.
You would often specialise in a particular period or type of artwork, for example, nineteenth century paintings or eighteenth century porcelain.
You would often work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.
You could be based in an office in a dealership or auction house, or travel to clients’ homes or businesses to carry out valuations. You may travel locally, nationally or overseas, depending on your clients.
How much does an Art Valuer earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries can be around £19,500 a year.
- Average salaries are around £24,000 to £27,000 a year.
- With several years’ experience and specialist knowledge, salaries can rise to over £43,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You can become an art valuer in any of the following ways:
- working in an auction house or antiques business as an assistant, porter, or cataloguer and learning through experience and part-time study
- joining a graduate training scheme with a large auction house – only a few of these are offered each year, and you will usually need a degree in a subject such as history of art or fine art
- completing a degree in a relevant subject, such as art history, fine arts and restoration, or fine arts conservation, followed by further professional training in valuation.
You could complete a specialised course such as the MA in Arts Market Appraisal (Professional Practice) – offered at Kingston University and accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
To search for other relevant degree courses see the UCAS website. Check entry requirements for courses directly with the university or college.
Training and Development
Once you are working as a valuer, you will receive on-the-job training.
You can also develop and update your knowledge by attending short courses, such as those run by the major auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. These cover areas such as specific periods of art history, fine and decorative arts, and the art market. Visit Christie’s and Sotheby’s websites for details of their courses and postgraduate programmes.
You could study part-time for postgraduate qualifications such as the MA in Arts Market Appraisal (Professional Practice) at Kingston University.
You could also improve your career prospects by gaining chartered status through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) scheme. You will need a RICS-approved degree and a minimum of two years’ experience. You will then be interviewed by a panel of assessors. See the RICS website for details.
Joining the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers will give you access to their professional development (CPD) programme. Membership is available at student or professional level.
Skills and Knowledge
- in-depth knowledge of the arts and the antiques market
- excellent communication skills
- close attention to detail
- up-to-date knowledge of relevant legislation
- research skills.
You could be employed as an art valuer by auction houses or fine art or antique dealerships. Insurance firms also employ qualified valuers, particularly in the area of loss adjustment.
You may also be able to find work with museums, galleries, heritage organisations or private collectors, managing their collections and acquisitions and overseeing insurance, conservation or restoration work.
You could set up your own business, offering a valuation service as well as buying and selling fine arts and antiques.