If you are dead-serious on becoming a gunsmith or if you want to pursue gunsmithing as a career, studying in a gunsmithing school is one of the great ways in which you can accomplish your goal. However, you must realize that just like with any academic or technical course, gunsmithing requires a considerable amount of financial and time investment on your part. This means that you must have enough money and time for you to attend gunsmithing classes and complete all the tests and hands-on projects that you are required to take in them.
A gunsmithing school course usually takes two years or four semesters to complete. Not only will you pay for your tuition, but you are also required to pay for the basic gunsmithing tools and equipment that are essential for the trade and any learning materials that are needed for your studies. Plus, if you live far from the school, you will have to rent a place to live near it; you are expected to shoulder all of your living expenses. If you don’t own any guns at all, you will also have to buy firearms so that you can use them for laboratory and machine work. All of these will cost you thousands of dollars if you don’t seek any form of financial assistance that can help trim down your fees.
Compare all of these expenses with the average salary that a gunsmith will usually expect once he graduates from gunsmithing school and he finally gets his chance to practice his trade. A starting gunsmith salary ranges from $9 to $14 an hour without benefits, and $12 to $15 with benefits. So if you’re still a beginner in gunsmithing, you will only be able to earn anywhere from $1,680 to $2,520. These are the estimated salary ranges for gunsmiths who are working in gunsmithing shops or hired as employees in businesses or companies whose work directly or indirectly involves the handling and care of guns. These businesses sometimes don’t provide benefits for their gunsmiths; they often also make their gunsmiths liable for any tool or machine breakages that they incur. If you stake out your chances and decide to embark on a gunsmithing business all your own, you will find it even more difficult to earn a decent income from it. You will have to pay for your business license, monthly bills, and insurance, not to mention the bewildering array of taxes that will surely be imposed on you such as property tax, income tax, sales, tax, inventory tax, county tax, and others. In time, you can command a salary of $25 up to $40, but that will take you years of work and experience just to get to that point. These factors force some to declare that attending a graduate school is not worth it and is just a waste of one’s money.
Your salary as a gunsmith is also dependent on the kind of specialization or gunsmith work that you are proficient at. So if you have just graduated from gunsmithing school, chances are that you’ve only touched on the fundamentals of your chosen profession and you’re capable only of basic gun work and repairs. If you want to ask for a higher gunsmithing salary, you must become an expert in the many gunsmithing specializations such as stockmaking, barrel engraving, finishing, building, checking, and firearms designing. Stockmaking is the general manufacture and design of gun stocks, particularly those on rifles. Barrel engraving is incising text and designs on the metal barrels of guns, while finishing involves the application of a durable and long-lasting protective layer on firearms. Gun building is the manufacturing of new guns and gun parts from scratch, and checking is the engraving of the grooved and checkered patterns on gun grips, such as those found on pistols. Finally, gun designing is the planning and development of new guns and gun part designs, and the process of coming up with breakthrough technologies that would revolutionize the gun industry. All of these special areas require even more extensive studies and practical work on your part, not to mention having to invest more in the unique tools and machines that you will need to do them. Even if you graduate from gunsmithing school as an expert in the gunsmithing field that you have chosen, you will still expect to start from the bottom of the salary ladder and work up your way to a higher pay.
Graduating from gunsmithing school does not mean that you can expect to get rich immediately when you ply your trade right away. Always remember that you are in the business because of your love of guns, and you must be ready to take up whatever challenges you will need to face up along the way. You can choose to work as a gunsmith part-time while you work for a better-paying full-time job; you can also continue your studies as a specialized gunsmith or become an apprentice to a seasoned professional. Make the most out of what you have invested and paid for when attending a gunsmithing school and plan carefully ahead.