Many antiques and art dealers are self-employed, operating their own shops or renting space at a local mall. Others operate solely through traveling art shows or through mail-order catalogues. Some dealers prefer to work as employees of larger antique or art galleries. In general, the more well known the dealer, the more permanent and steady the business. Prestigious auction houses such as Christie's or Sotheby's are attractive places to work, but competition for such jobs is fierce.
All dealers have a great interest in antiques or art and are collectors themselves. Often, their businesses result from an overabundance of their personal collections. There are many ways to build a collection and create inventory worthy of an antique business. Attending yard sales is an inexpensive way to build inventory; you never know what kind of valuables you will come across. Flea markets, local art galleries, and antique malls provide great purchasing opportunities and give the chance to check out the competition. Spring can be a busy time for collecting. As people do their "spring cleaning," many decide to part with household items and décor they no longer want or need.
For those working out of their homes or renting showcase space at malls or larger shops, advancement in this field can mean opening your own antique shop or art gallery. Besides a business license, dealers that open their own stores need to apply for a seller's permit and a state tax identification number.
At this point, advancement is based on the success of the business. To ensure that their business thrives and expands, dealers need to develop advertising and marketing ideas to keep their business in the public's eye. Besides using the local library or Internet for ideas on opening their own businesses, newer dealers often turn to people who are already in the antiques and art business for valuable advice.
Check out lists of member galleries at the Web sites of professional associations for potential job leads.
Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date on art/antique industry developments, network, and learn about job openings.
Land an entry-level job at an art gallery or antique mall to learn about the field and make valuable industry contacts.