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Gunsmithing is an exciting profession with a strong demand across the country.
And that shouldn't come as a surprise if you remember that Americans have more personal firearms than anyone else in the world, over 330 million of them! And all those guns do need regular attention in the form of repairs, cleaning, customizing etc.
Gunsmiths can learn their craft in a variety of ways, including apprenticeships, military training, and completing a degree or certificate program at a Gunsmith School.
What you learn at Gunsmith School
Students at Gunsmith Schools work under the guidance of highly experienced instructors and take courses like gun safety, machine shop safety, gun repair, stockmaking, and firearms conversion. Skills like welding, metal finishing, gun blueing, and working with complex machine tools are also emphasized. Gunsmith programs are hands-on, and students will spend many hours of practicing to master their gunsmithing skills. Because students may go on to own their own businesses some gunsmith programs also provide some instruction in management skills.
Associate degree programs in gunsmithing usually take two years to assuming you do this full-time and include general education coursework like English, math, and science. Schools that offer associate degree programs may also offer certificate programs that take less time to complete and do not include general education coursework. Some schools also partner with the National Rifle Association to offer short-term or summer schools that provide instruction in basic skills.
Want to know how to become our Gunsmith? Read our article How to Become a Gunsmith: 7 Steps to Success
Online Gunsmith School Options
There are multiple online gunsmithing schools out there, but you have to be very careful about picking that route to become a gunsmith and gunsmithing is a hands-on trade that cannot be learned behind a computer or lying on your sofa! However, if you have strong trade skills (e.g. machining) and ability to gain experience working on guns and online school could be just what you need to get an initial job as a gunsmith in a gunshop. Read more in our article Online Gunsmithing Schools – Are They Worth Your Time and Money?
What does a gunsmith do?
A gunsmith is a tradesperson specialized in the design, construction, maintenance and repair of guns. Gunsmiths have a range of high technical skills including the ability to fabricate custom parts and the ability to modify weapons to suit the needs of their users. Gunsmiths may also apply carvings, engravings and other decorative features to an otherwise finished gun. Armorers on the other hand are primarily responsible for maintaining weapons and performing minor repairs. Gunsmithing can be learned at specialist gunsmithing schools or through apprenticeship with an experienced, master gunsmith.
Gunsmiths are highly trained in gun safety and observe meticulous safety procedures in their workshops and with clients, and some gunsmiths offer gun safety classes to members of their community.
Gunsmiths typically work in gun stores of varying size, sometimes as a Gunsmith may just run his own store, but in other cases they could multiple gunsmiths working in large scale specialty shops. Munitions companies and firearms manufacturers also employ gunsmiths to design new products, modify existing ones, and supervise the production line and quality control procedures. Any number of seemingly trivial errors during the manufacturing process can make a weapon unreliable or dangerous, making quality inspections critical before weapons are released for sale. Gunsmiths may also find work for the military. And many veterans who leave the military show an interest in becoming a gunsmith.
How much does a Gunsmith make?
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to get rich on a gunsmith salary. You can make a decent living as a gunsmith and most people who opt for this career do so because of the passion they have for guns and gunsmithing. In terms of hard earned cash, most gunsmiths make between $35,000 and $45,000 per year. More successful gunsmiths report that after graduating from a gunsmithing school they opened their own shop and are now making over $100,000 a year. You could get rich on that. Read more in our article Gunsmith Salary: How Much Does a Gunsmith Really Make?
Licenses you need as a gunsmith
If you only plan on repairing and modifying weapons and then returning them to the original owner then you need to apply for a dealer’s license. If you want to manufacture or sell guns then you need a Federal Firearms License. Either way as a gunsmith you need to have the right gunsmith license.