Gunsmiths are also commonly known as firearms repair technicians, although these trained arms experts are also knowledgeable about the design and production of guns. Licensed gunsmiths work in the business of engraving, custom detailing, refinishing, repairing, and selling a wide variety of firearms.
Gunsmithing comprises a specialized skill set that can be gained through formal education, on-the-job training, or both. Aspiring gunsmiths do not have to go to school, but today the field is highly competitive and even apprenticeship positions are difficult to access without prior training. Moreover, some employers now require job applicants to have a diploma or degree from a recognized gunsmith school.
'Recognized' generally refers to one of about 15 to 20 brick-and-mortar programs that offer gunsmithing training in the United States. There are a few recognized online gunsmithing schools, though not all provide a quality education that can be converted into a career. Students should look for programs that are either regionally accredited or certified by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Vocational certificates are helpful for introducing students to the basics of gunsmithing in a short, intensive course. These programs are ideal for those who learn well in classrooms and have less time or money to invest in formal training. Both community colleges and private vocational schools offer gunsmithing certificates. Programs range from just 4 weeks to nearly 2 years.
Students also earn vocational certificates or diplomas to compete for apprenticeship work under an established gunsmith. It can be difficult to land these paid and mentored training experiences without prior education. Many students opt for a general or introductory gunsmithing certificate first and later earn advanced certification in a particular area of focus.
A criminal background check is a common prerequisite for admission to gunsmith school. Additionally, most programs now require students to bring their own tools, parts, and components for their classes—often everything but lathes and mills. A basic gunsmithing toolset can be purchased in a bundle from numerous retailers.
A vocational school graduate with a recognized diploma can be a:
Coursework for a basic gunsmithing certificate may include:
Two-year associate degree programs make sense for those who want to gain a solid grounding in the discipline of gunsmithing and have a degree on their resume with which to bargain for apprenticeships and jobs. Many retailers, law enforcement agencies, and large gun manufacturers now look for applicants with associate degrees.
Unlike vocational courses, associate gunsmithing programs may offer students co-op experiences with actual gunsmiths or firearms sellers. Some programs are geared toward general gunsmithing; others offer specialized training in areas like pistolsmithing, custom gunsmithing, and metal finishing.
As an example, Trinidad State Junior College offers an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) for entry-level work as a custom gunsmith. Students work with bench metal, conduct machining operations, refurbish firearms, and create customized stocks and barrels.
An associate degree-holder may obtain employment as a:
Coursework for an A.A.S. in Gunsmithing might include:
A bachelor's degree expands one's career options beyond the relatively limited employment opportunities in general gunsmithing. Gunsmiths have more market value when they combine their technical background with a mature business or manufacturing skill set. Pine Technical School, for instance, offers Advanced Gunsmithing and Prototyping-Gunsmithing certificates that can be combined with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Operations Management.
Many employers, like the gun range industry, look for strong salesmanship, customer service skills, and an ability to contribute to an operation's commercial success. The most competitive gunsmiths in the years to come will likely be those with a business background. A 4-year education in business is also an effective way to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to run an independent gunsmithing operation.
Gunsmiths could also use their specialized expertise in metalworking and firearm reconstruction to advance into the wider engineering and firearm manufacturing sector. Firearms designers, for example, are usually required to have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
What kinds of jobs are available to gunsmiths with bachelor degrees?
Coursework for a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering might include:
We found 10 schools offering gunsmithing degree programs in the U.S.
|Pennsylvania Gunsmith School||Pittsburgh||PA||24|
|Colorado School of Trades||Lakewood||CO||82|
|Montgomery Community College||Troy||NC||674|
|Pine Technical College||Pine City||MN||996|
|Kirtland Community College||Roscommon||MI||1307|
|Murray State College||Tishomingo||OK||1768|
|Trinidad State Junior College||Trinidad||CO||1921|
|Piedmont Community College||Roxboro||NC||1930|
|Community College of the Air Force||Montgomery||AL||378162|