Developing a career path as a livestock auctioneer is becoming a more valuable and prosperous choice for young farmers looking to find work in the rural industry.

There is a need for young blood to enter the trade to meet the changing demographic of younger buyers and sellers and Craig Wilson Ltd, in Ayr, is hoping to inspire the next generation of auctioneers into its ranks.

“We are trying to access those young farmers who might not be in a position to take on the family farm but want to keep an active role in the farming community or those who are running farms but might wish to work part-time to fit with their businesses,” explained Michael Craig, director of Craig Wilson Ltd.

“We want to employ people with a rural background, which of course means we are flexible with our staff, who we appreciate will have busy times in the year, for example, during lambing and harvest, so we can adjust shifts accordingly.

“It is important to attract young auctioneers in order to reflect our changing customers as we are seeing many more farmers' sons and daughters coming along to the market on behalf of their parents.

“It is also a lot more attractive now than it used to be as a trade – we offer accelerated programmes to young farmers which means as well as putting candidates through the official auctioneer qualification, they will also take on greater responsibility and look to receive higher remuneration at a much earlier stage in the process.

“We want to deliver the message that becoming an auctioneer offers an exciting career with bountiful opportunities to advance from the early stages.

“Finding people who the whole industry can trust is vital, as building up that loyalty with buyers and sellers, as well as developing a strong knowledge of the local rural community is essential when farmers livelihoods are at stake,” he explained.

Meet the auctioneers

Developing a solid relationship with buyers and sellers can take many years of commitment in the industry and one man who has built quite a legacy on the circuit is Craig Wilson Ltd's Willie Hamilton.

Accumulating more than 42 years of experience as a livestock auctioneer, Willie has witnessed the farming landscape change dramatically over the years.

“I never fancied being in an office and joined the trade as soon as I left school, starting as an apprentice with Thomas Donald’s in Kilmarnock, in 1976.

“The best part of the job has to be when you’re in the box and you feel the buzz from the sale.

“Of course, there have been bad points, I’ll never forget foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, it was a really low point in any auctioneer’s career with restrictions on the markets and no guarantee that they would open again.”

Willie went on to describe his duties as an auctioneer and the skills required for the role. “Communication skills are a must; especially being able to listen to customer’s needs and being able to respond to these.

“You need to be able to canvass both buyers and sellers which then creates the 'market'," he explained.

“Along with this is the obvious day-to-day admin tasks of moving stock, checking documentation and, more importantly, gathering background knowledge about the farming community and their stock, which allows you to tailor your efforts to their requirements,” he said.

Following in the footsteps of Willie Hamilton is fellow auctioneer, Drew Kennedy, of Perryston Farm, Dunure, Ayrshire, who similarly left school and went straight into the trade.

He said: “I knew I couldn’t take on the family farm as I had two older brothers waiting in line," he explained.

“I began an apprenticeship with Craig Wilson Ltd and have been here for 12 years, developing my practical experience and also completing a degree in Auctioneering and Valuation at Harper Adams.

“I completed courses in the likes of market operations, animal welfare, agricultural law, valuation work and economics, and after the four years, became a fully-fledged member of the Institute of Auctioneers Scotland.

“This is definitely a career for life, it is always evolving and very rewarding – once you get into the flow of things there is no better job."

There are currently more than 200 livestock auctioneers in Scotland, and although opportunities to enter the trade have been rare, with the current generation, like Willie, looking to retire in years to come, there will be increasing opportunities for new stock to take over the reins and join the industry.

If you are interested in applying to become a livestock auctioneer for Craig Wilson Ltd, submit your CV to