A blacksmithing career can be both highly lucrative and satisfying, particularly for the artistically inclined. Of course, like any skilled trade, blacksmithing can entail particular training, especially if you plan to take your skills to an employer. Unfortunately, few schools offer blacksmithing courses, so it may be hard to figure out an appropriate jump-off point if you are interested in the craft.
This article will help you get started on the path toward a fulfilling blacksmith career, covering the skills, training and equipment needed to succeed.
Guides on how to Become a Blacksmith
Read Books and Online Resources
There is no shortage of books for getting started down the path to becoming a blacksmith. Numerous free resources like videos and podcasts live online as well. Youtube, for example, is a great place to find instructional videos worth checking out to broaden your knowledge base.
Many community colleges and vocational schools offer flexible, affordable blacksmithing courses. Online courses are available as well, many of which are free. In-person training is heavily recommended, as it offers hands-on experience, support networks and personalized feedback to keep you progressing.
Take More Advanced Metal-Work Classes
For those looking for a profitable career in blacksmithing, advanced metal-work classes offer more comprehensive skills training. Students benefit from the exposure to broader arrays of raw materials, blacksmithing history, and different techniques for a more well-rounded understanding.
You can also enter two or four-year degree programs, as well as earn certifications to offer to employers. Universities offering blacksmithing courses are sparse, but you can find some of the best programs at the following colleges and specialized schools:
- Massachusetts College of Art, MA
- University of Washington, WA
- University of Georgia, GA
- Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing, VA
- International School of Blacksmithing, NY
Enrolling in a formal blacksmithing education does require a substantial investment in time and money but you earn crucial marketable skills.
Start Your Tool Collection
Newer technologies, like hydraulic presses and welders, significantly facilitate modern blacksmith work. Most setups, however, still center around the simple tools that have been used for centuries. Depending on the items you make, whether functional or artistic, you will use different combinations of a wide range of equipment.
The following tools and equipment are common to nearly all blacksmith workspaces:
This basic setup is ideal for beginners, and it really constitutes the backbone of any professional blacksmithing operation. If you can buy items secondhand, you can likely get everything you need for under $1000. Furthermore, as your skills progress, you will eventually be able to make many of these tools yourself.
Become an Apprentice
It is recommended to supplement your learning with an apprenticeship, where you work directly with a skilled craftsman. Find a master blacksmith to work under in the classes you attend. This gives you real-world experience, immersing you in the daily work and business of blacksmithing.
Start your Blacksmith Shop
After apprenticing for a year or two, you will likely be ready to start your own shop. Start with a small operation and build on it as you refine your skills and define your niche.
Self-employed blacksmiths enjoy full freedom in their craft, but in order to thrive and attract customers, you will need a foundational knowledge of marketing and business operations. As you grow your business, you can start a website and begin marketing yourself on social media.
Also Read: Best Blacksmithing Books
Create a Specialty for Yourself
Becoming a master in a specific area of blacksmithing makes you more marketable. Find out where your interests and strengths lie and focus on enhancing that aspect of your trade. Decide on a specialty that does not entail too much competition but is still in demand in your area. Welding and knife forging are just a couple of the many sought-after blacksmithing skills.
Start Taking Interns and Apprentices
Once you are fully established, you can begin taking on apprentices and interns. Make sure you have ample room to work and train someone at your side. By taking on interns, you will establish yourself as a true professional and expert at your trade. Using apprentices can also help you scale your business and take on work that you could not handle alone.
Blacksmithing, like any skill or art form, is a never-ending process of self-improvement. Technology and processes change, and you will need to regularly update and sharpen your skills to evolve as a professional.
You can make a healthy living from blacksmithing. When you become a master in a valued niche and continue improving your quality and trademark style, you can start taking higher-paying projects. By following this path, you can maximize your earning potential as a true leader in your craft.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much money can you make as a blacksmith?
The average blacksmith salary in 2021 was $46,141, or about $22/hour. Salaries generally range between about $35,000 to $55,000, but many skilled experts earn far more. Blacksmithing demand is on the rise, and the estimated salary is expected to increase by roughly 13 percent over the next five years.
Is a blacksmith a good career?
Blacksmithing offers immense freedom. Professionals can set their own schedules and focus on creating art or functional pieces that are truly meaningful. Blacksmiths enjoy great satisfaction in completing projects and a steady stream of work once they become established.
Blacksmithing can be an incredibly lucrative and fulfilling career. It may seem like there is little opportunity in today’s technology-driven world, but skilled craftsmen will only grow in value across several industries for the foreseeable future. For more information on how you can take advantage of blacksmithing opportunities, contact our team today.