CAREER DEVELOPMENT / MAY. 08, 2014
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How to Become a Blacksmith

If you are interested in working with tools and machinery, but are also a creative person, Blacksmithing may be the right career for you. Blacksmiths are people trained in creating various practical and decorative items out of different metals.

Pre-requisites

To become a blacksmith, it is important to possess the following:

  • Excellent hand-to-eye coordination
  • Good practical skills
  • Problem solving skills    
  • Physical strength
  • Concentration
  • Technical skills
  • Motivation and self-discipline
  • Business skills
  • Creative skills
  • Designing skills

Education and Training

To become a blacksmith you may work under an experienced blacksmith who is willing to offer on-the-job training or you may complete a full-time college course.

Full-time courses generally focus on traditional blacksmithing skills and design. You may refer to British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA) website for information on various courses.

You may also join an apprenticeship program, or attend either a community college or vocational school that specializes in blacksmithing. Apprenticeship programs offer a great deal of help to trainee industrial blacksmiths.

To enhance your skills and knowledge further, you can pursue various short and special courses run by professional bodies, such as the British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA).

For further advancement in your career, you may join a journeyman program. During the programme you would work under a professional blacksmith and design variety of styles by working with architects.

Depending on your level of accomplishment, you can also gain awards from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.

Tasks

The job of a blacksmith involves a variety of tasks such as:

  • To forge, make repairs and create welds
  • To create decorative railings and gates, furniture and sculptures from metal
  • To restore or make reproductions of historic antique iron work
  • To 'Finish' metal or products so as to prepare it for its intended use

Areas of specialization

  • Industrial work: To make items such as specialist tools, fire escapes or security grills
  • Artistic work or architectural metal work: To make decorative ironwork, gates, sculptures and furniture
  • Farriery work: Trained and registered to produce and fit horse shoes.

Employment Opportunities

Most blacksmiths work in manufacturing industry, but those who are artistically-inclined are usually self-employed.

Work Life

  • The job includes 35 to 40 working hours a week, but they may vary depending upon the type of employment.
  • They are expected to wear protective clothing such as boots, apron, gloves, safety glasses or a visor, and ear defenders.
  • It is a profession that demands a lot of physical work, such as lifting.

As per nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk, salaries for blacksmiths start at between £12,000 and £16,000 a year. Experienced blacksmiths may earn £25,000 a year or more. If a blacksmith is self-employed earnings may vary a great deal.

Career Tips

  • Join blacksmithing chapters in your country and around the world
  • Keep yourself updated with modern metal-working skills

Finally, you need to remember that Blacksmithing is not all pounding iron, it is a much more creative and challenging field. Only those who are passionate about working with metals and tools should attempt to follow this career path.

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