Career as a Gunsmith
Gunsmiths are, perhaps, one of the oldest serving professionals in America today. Since around the early eighteenth century with the manufacture of the Flintlock Fowlers (Grinsdale), with some asserting the existence of gunsmithing in the seventeenth century as well (Cramer), the profession has been ever present in the US, lately, with courses being offered at universities and hands on learning experience available through apprenticeships. Gunsmithing basically entails the repairing and modification of firearms, which can be customer specific as well, and it requires certain skills that will be discussed below. I am, personally, interested in firearms and their modification, and will, in all probability choose the career of a gunsmith based on the educational requirements thereof. The research I have done on it reinforces my belief that this is a good career for me to choose, some of this research is used to write this paper and, thus, to shed some light on gunsmithing.
There are a number of schools that offer diplomas and degree programs, the latter normally 2 years in duration, in gunsmithing; the courses offered include metallurgy, algebra, drafting and ballistics. The cost of such courses varies considerably depending on which type of course and institute one enrolls in, with an institute offering a course for $699 (Foley-Belsaw). These courses include lessons in gun fitting, metalworking, bluing and Parkerizing guns, etc. The option to choose an apprenticeship and training on the job instead of enrolling in the courses is available, however, it is required that the prospective gunsmiths have some knowledge of woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing, because gunsmithing involves many tasks that require knowledge thereof. Additionally, it is important for the gunsmith to have steady hands, be precise and give attention to detail, as gunsmithing requires precision.
North Carolina’s job market has quite some room for gunsmiths, with many established gunsmiths to choose from. A cursory glance at the Yellow Pages shows that there are many gunsmiths operating in North Carolina where an aspiring gunsmith can go for hiring and training.
The salary of the gunsmith depends upon the years of his/her experience; however, as per a Survey (ERI) gunsmiths can earn more than $40,000/- per year. It is important to note that most, if not all, entry level gunsmithing jobs start from a lot less (around $18,000/- per year), with an hourly rate of $10 to $15 on average (PayScale).
There is no clear room for advancement as most gunsmiths are small run operations; however, the experience that a gunsmith gains during his/her employment can be later utilized in setting up a personal business. What makes gunsmithing more appealing is the fact that there is a steady demand for gunsmiths, ensuring that reputable craftsmen will find jobs in the market. The job benefits depend upon the place of employment: gunsmiths working in sports stores will mostly have access to benefits like health insurance, paid vacations and retirement funds, however, self employed gunsmiths will have no such benefits given to them, and will, for instance, have to pay for health insurance themselves.
Since there is a lot of grinding and sawing to be done in gunsmithing, be it involving woodwork or metalwork, there is a risk of respiratory diseases; however, this can be overcome by taking appropriate precautionary measures. The test firing is also noisy, but again the required safety procedures have minimized the risk involved therein as well. Most of the work is indoors, involving dealing with customers and working in the workshop.
Altogether, gunsmithing is a very interesting career, and attracts me because, not only does it have a steady job market, but the work entailed is interesting. The modern safety precautions have minimized the risks once associated with the work, thereby increasing its draw. I was not aware that it was such a well-paying job – something I learned during this research. For all these reasons, and my personal interest therein, I intend on becoming a gunsmith.
Cramer, Clayton E. “Counting Gunsmiths in Early America.” Shotgun News 1 May 2005: 24-25. Print.
Grinsdale, Tom. Flintlock Fowlers: The First Guns Made in America. Texarkana, TX: Scurlock Publishing Company, 2005. Print.
“Gunsmith Job Description, Career as a Gunsmith, Salary, Employment – Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job.” Careers.StateUniversity.com. StateUniversity, n.d. Web. 4 January 2010.
“Median Hourly Rate by Years Experience – Job: Gunsmith.” PayScale. PayScale, Inc., 1 January 2010. Web. 4 January 2010. < http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Gunsmith/Hourly_Rate>
“Personal Services Salary Survey.” ERI. Economic Research Institute, n.d. Web. 4 January 2010. < http://salary-surveys.erieri.com/content/Personal_Services_Salary_Survey/Gunsmith_2474/US_National.htm>
“Tuition and Payment Plans.” The Foley-Belsaw Institute. Foley-Belsaw Company, n.d. Web. 4 January 2010.
“What Does a Gunsmith Do?” DegreeDirectory.org. DegreeDirectory, n.d. Web. 4 January 2010.
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