CHOOSING A CAREER / DEC. 17, 2014
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How to Become a Metal Arts Worker in the US

Metal, just like wood and plastic, can be manipulated into a range of shapes. Metal arts workers are the specialists responsible for transforming cast or molten metal into products such as jewelry, cutlery and sculptures. A high level of creativity coupled with excellent practical skills are some of the tools you need to succeed in this trade.

What Do Metal Arts Workers Do?

The primary duties of metal arts workers include:

  • Creating the designs for making metal products – This involves drawing sketches of the products and showing them to clients
  • Selecting the best type of metal for making a given product
  • Assembling metal parts using welds, bolts and other tools
  • Polishing metal jewelry
  • Researching current trends and styles in metal fabrication.

Work Environment

Many beginning metal arts workers work part-time while experienced artists have full-time, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday jobs. When a client places an urgent order, they may need to work longer hours, including weekends.

These artists mostly work from workshops where they conceptualize ideas and turn them into tangible products. While at work, metal arts workers must wear heat resistant clothing and goggles to protect themselves from heat, sparks and glares.

Salary

Which are the highest paying states for metal arts workers? Find out below:

State

Annual Wage

New York

$35,000

California

$34,000

Illinois

$26,000

Pennsylvania

$25,000

Source: Salary Expert

Entry Requirements

You don’t need any advanced qualifications to become a metal arts worker. Many employers often hire high school graduates with a great artistic ability and train them on the job.

However, if you wish to pursue some relevant training before finding employment, you can pursue metal work courses offered by trade schools and community colleges.

Some unions, such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, also offer apprenticeship programs, which are an ideal way to gain practical skills.

It is also beneficial to build a portfolio containing pictures of your best designs. Employers are more interested in your abilities, so a portfolio gives them the opportunity to assess your work and gauge your ability.

Important Skills and Abilities

To be a competent metal arts worker, you should have the following skills, abilities and interests:

  • Great artistic and creative skills
  • The ability to pay attention to detail
  • Excellent drawing skills
  • A good visual awareness
  • Physical stamina and a good hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to read and interpret 2D and 3D diagrams
  • Good practical and technical skills
  • Business awareness – For self-employed artists
  • Good communication skills.

Career Development

Like many careers in art and design, the ability to make creative products that are appealing to clients is an important career progression asset. As such, focus on creating impressive products.

If you have enough time on your hands, you can pursue courses in metal design, fine art or jewelry design. Example of colleges offering relevant programs include:

Finally, be sure to join a local metal arts society. This will enable you to access educational and networking opportunities.

Job Opportunities

Although many metal artists work on a freelance basis, you can find full-time opportunities in the following places:

  • Construction companies
  • Manufacturing firms
  • Design studios
  • Metal shops

With vast experience and start-up capital, you can establish your own design studio or metal shop.

So, how good are your employment prospects? Actually, they are not good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of all craft artists will grow by 3 percent (slower than the 11 percent average for all jobs) within the next 8 years.

To excel in this profession, you need exceptional artistic skills. However, if you can create attractive metal products, this may be the career for you!

 

Image: iStock

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