Professional sports card grading has become a cornerstone of the card collecting industry. Sports cards are graded by knowledgeable, third-party experts according to a grading system which is generally agreed upon by the top-spot card grading companies, such as Professional Sports Authentication, Sports Guaranty and GMA Sports Authentication. The industry is self-regulated and essentially relies on professional integrity by the major card grading companies. Grading sets the standard for sports card values, and after they are graded they are sealed to maintain that graded condition. To become a sports card grader, knowledge, a keen eye and a complete understanding of the grading system is required.
Become thoroughly knowledgeable in the sports card grading system. Professional Sports Authentication and Beckett's, two of the industry's leaders, have complete listings of acceptable grading standards on their sites to learn from.
Join a program like the ones offered at GMA Sports Authentication. These programs offer you a chance to go into business with the grading company and gain knowledge and a reputation in the industry, while making money doing it. GMA allows you to go into business with them, provided you know grading, and will walk you through the steps. This gives you an opportunity to be backed by a card grading leader, increasing your knowledge and reputation within the industry. Fees are charged for products used by the company, such as card cases and labels.
Read the industry publications. Obtain a copy of a sports card industry journal, such as Beckett's Price Guide. Beckett is the industry standard publication and contains all the news and information regarding the sports card industry. Reading these publications regularly will increase your knowledge and keep you in the loop with new developments and grading standards.
Become active in the sports card industry. Going to card shows and developing relationships with sports card dealers and graders is a good way to learn the ropes, and help you gain a reputation for your grading skills.
A native of New Haven, Conn., Floyd Drake III began writing in 1984. His work has appeared in the "New Haven Register," Medford's "Mail-Tribune" and the "Ashland Daily Tidings." Drake studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. After working as a reporter in Oregon, he is now based back home in New Haven.