CAI – Certified Auctioneers Institute designation

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series NAA designations

Finishing our series on auctioneer education and designations offered by the National Auctioneers Association, the Certified Auctioneers Institute weighs in as the most prestigious and honored course available to auctioneers.

Held in Bloomington, Indiana, each year for a week in March, CAI is a three-year certification program that graduates the most professional and well-educated auctioneers in the industry. Attendees are housed in the hotel attached to the world’s largest campus union building at Indiana University.

CAI kicks off on Sunday with an opening brunch where class I is welcomed and awards are given to project winners from classes II and III. After a brief orientation, the course wastes no time getting auctioneers to class. The bulk of CAI is made of nine class sessions, 3.5 hours each, with activities most evenings. Wednesday night holds a benefit auction and Friday morning holds the final exam, followed by a final general session.

The course materials covered at CAI include a mix of instructors from both within and without the auction industry. Experts on a wide range of topics ranging from finance to marketing and from technology to real estate provide insight, examples and materials to help auctioneers learn to be more professional, proficient and powerful in their businesses.

Here’s the description from the NAA website.


Designed for leaders in the industry and auction firm decision-makers, the CAI is an executive development program focused on developing the skills and providing the tools necessary to run a top-notch auction firm.

Designation holders have the knowledge and skill necessary to provide high-quality services to all types of clients.

In addition, their designation indicates to attorneys, trust officers, government officials, financial planners, accountants and others who seek the services of well-qualified auctioneers that the CAI designation holder is an astute business person whose conduct will follow the highest professional standards.

With all NAA educational offerings, the true value of the materials is exacerbated by the networking inherent in the aggregation of over a hundred auctioneers from various sectors and experiences. No article about CAI would be complete without a mention of Nick’s English Hut, the traditional after-class destination of CAI candidates and instructors alike. There, the information presented during the course is casually discussed, disected and absorbed.

There are many CAI auctioneers who claim that this networking of auctioneers with different ideas and experiences is as valuable as the course materials presented, though we’re pretty confident that the networking wouldn’t be as valuable without the course materials. There’s no question that the networking from CAI results in life-long friendships and business relationships.

If you’d like to learn more about CAI, or find out about the application process, visit the course webpage.

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GPPA and MPPA designations – Graduate and Master Personal Property Appraiser

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Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES | |

Aaron Traffas, CAI, AMM, CES, is an auctioneer from Sharon, Kansas. For the last 22 years he's worked for Purple Wave. Aaron served as president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association in 2017 and on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees from 2009 through 2013. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote the original ATS and AMM designation courses from NAA. An active contract bid caller, he has advanced to the finals in multiple state auctioneer contests. During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band's latest music can be found at as well as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.