Pawnbroker Job Description

Pawnbrokers provide short-term loans to customers in exchange for valuable items such as jewelry, electronics, and musical instruments. In this role, pawnbrokers estimate an item’s value based on retail prices or market values of precious metals or stones, offering customers cash while holding the items as collateral. In many cases, pawnbrokers also handle retail sales of items that customers did not return to collect or sold outright.

This position requires excellent customer service skills as well as the ability to successfully evaluate items and estimate resale value. Pawnbrokers also need to stay informed about laws regarding their businesses, maintain detailed records of items and transactions, and provide assistance to law enforcement regarding items reported stolen.


Pawnbroker Duties and Responsibilities

Based on postings that we examined, pawnbrokers share several core duties:

Evaluate Pawned and Pledged Items

One of the main duties of a pawnbroker is estimating the value of pawned or pledged items, which can include jewelry, electronics and cameras, instruments, and collectible items. This requires extensive familiarity with the market values of these items, along with the ability to quickly make judgments about an item’s condition and resale potential. Pawnbrokers may use scales and jewelers’ loupes to closely examine some items brought in by customers.

Issue Cash Loans to Customers

Pawnbrokers use the value of items to determine customer loan amounts, holding the customer’s items as collateral. In determining loan offers, the pawnbroker determines the amount of the offer as well as loan terms and payment dates. The pawnbroker also provides a receipt and written contract outlining the loan terms and the customer’s options to recover their item or extend the terms of their lease.

Sell Uncollected Items to Customers

If a customer does not redeem their item at the end of their loan term, then the pawnbroker prepares that item for retail sale. The pawnbroker compares retail prices of similar items and prices incoming customer goods appropriately. In some cases, a pawnbroker may list an item on a site like eBay if they believe the item will fetch a higher value there than in the store. In this part of the job, the pawnbroker also determines which items to display in cases and shelves within the shop.

Maintain Pawn Shop Records

Pawnbrokers support shop activities by maintaining detailed records of transactions. These records can include items received by customers, outstanding loans with upcoming due dates, interest records for customers who extended the terms of their loans, and detailed sales reports. These records ensure that the pawn shop maintains detailed and complete inventory records, manages cash flow and outstanding payments, and is able to account for items sold and received.

Adhere to Laws and Regulations

Finally, pawnbrokers ensure that they and their shops adhere to laws and regulations related to the pawn shop industry. Because of the heavily cash-based nature of a pawnbroker’s work, they need to keep records pertaining to reportable transactions and closely follow state and federal regulations for lending and selling items. Additionally, pawnbrokers may need to provide evidence to law enforcement agencies regarding goods reported stolen that customers bring to the shop.


Pawnbroker Skills and Qualifications

Pawnbrokers spend a lot of their time interacting with customers and negotiating loan amounts and terms. While there are usually few education requirements for this role, pawnbrokers do need the following skills:

  • Assessment and evaluation – pawnbrokers can assess the market value of a wide range of consumer goods in order to determine loan amounts and retail pricing
  • Negotiation – negotiation plays a big part in a pawnbroker’s work, since they need to reach an agreement with customers regarding the value of an item, the loan amount, and terms
  • Customer service – pawnbrokers need excellent customer service skills, particularly when resolving issues with angry customers and dealing with customers bringing in items for quick cash
  • Mathematics – numeracy skills are also vital in this role, since pawnbrokers need to calculate interest, estimate payments, and price items for retail sale
  • Attention to detail – pawnbrokers need a high level of attention to detail to successfully manage the day-to-day operations of the shop and manage customer loans, pawned items, and payments


Pawnbroker Education and Training

Pawnbrokers do not need any formal education, but they should have some experience with customer service or retail. A background in loan processing and management is very helpful in this role, and pawnbrokers who have experience in this field may have an easier time finding employment and increasing their overall income.


Pawnbroker Salary and Outlook

Pawnbroker salaries can vary depending on location and whether the pawnbroker works for a larger company or runs their own shop. According to PayScale, pawnbrokers earn an average wage of $10.89 per hour. This lines up relatively closely to Glassdoor’s estimated yearly salary of $19,000. A self-employed pawnbroker may make more than this per year, but they do have to manage their company’s finances and overhead as well.


Helpful Resources

If you’re interested in working as a pawnbroker, we found several resources on the web for further information:

National Pawnbrokers Association – the NPA is a professional organization for pawnbrokers, providing resources on regulations and best practices as well as industry news and events

Pawnonomics: A Tale of the Historical, Cultural, and Economic Significance of the Pawnbroking Industry – Stephen Krupnik explores the history of pawnbroking and examines the myths and misconceptions about pawn shops

Pawn Shops Today – check out this site to learn about pawn industry trends, legislation affecting pawn shops, and customer profiles

Pawnbroker’s Handbook: How to Get Rich Buying and Selling Guns, Gold, and Other Good Stuff – read this book to learn the basics of pawn shops, from evaluating items to determining retail pricing


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