Gunsmith Schools

Gunsmithing is a rewarding career choice for those who enjoy working with and handling firearms. Before an individual can start their career, however, they will need to complete certain educational and training benchmarks needed to qualify for the role. Those who are interested in becoming a gunsmith can continue reading to discover information on requirements, job duties, salary, and more.

Education & Training

How Much Does Gunsmith School Cost?

Gunsmith training programs cost as little as $800 – $1,000. Associate’s degrees in gunsmithing tend to be priced higher, usually at around $10,000 for a 2-year degree.

Obtaining a federal firearms license also costs an average of $200 for a 3-year license.

How Long Does it Take?

Certification classes in gunsmithing typically take around 6 to 8 months. Associate’s degrees in gunsmithing are also an option for those interested in additional training, which would take about 2 years.

Also, with some online courses, you can study at your own pace which could help you finish even faster.

While this level of training can get you started in the field, years of practice and on-the-job training would be needed for those interested in starting independent businesses.

It is also recommended for gunsmiths to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) – while not needed for jobs in sporting or hunting shops, a license is required for gunsmiths working independently.

The minimum required education is a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

What Courses Do You Study?

Whether in shorter training or longer degree programs, gunsmithing courses typically cover a very hands-on curriculum, focusing on technical aspects of the craft. Course topics will usually include:

  • Firearm Design and Functionality: Understanding the intricate workings of various firearms.
  • Metalworking and Machining: Developing proficiency in crafting and modifying firearm components.
  • Firearm Restoration: Understanding methods for preserving and restoring historical weaponry.
  • Woodworking: Learning to work with wood for firearm stocks and grips.
  • Assembly and Safety: Understanding gun safety and assembling/disassembling various firearms.

Overall, gunsmithing programs allow students to gain a thorough understanding of all aspects of craftsmanship and technical expertise required to work in the field of gunsmithing.

Benefits of Taking a Course

While the required education or training to get started in gunsmithing can seem vague, enrolling in a gunsmithing course, particularly a training or certificate program, can offer a much more direct path to mastering the essential skills of the trade instead of no training or a longer degree. The structured nature of training programs ensures that students gain valuable hands-on guidance from experienced instructors.

Additionally, opting for a shorter training program can be far more cost-efficient than pursuing an associate’s degree, allowing you to start working in the field earlier for the same quality of training.

Completing recognized programs and earning certifications can also serve as valuable industry credentials, making it a worthwhile option.

Salary

As of 2023, the average national salary for gunsmiths in the US is around $41,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this number can increase significantly for more experienced gunsmiths, particularly those running independent businesses, who can make over $60,000.

Furthermore, gunsmiths who choose to branch out into areas like government work or contracting can make as much as $70,000 annually.

What is a Gunsmith?

A gunsmith is a person who repairs, designs, modifies, or builds firearms. Gunsmiths generally work for firearm manufacturers, gunsmith shops, armories, or sporting goods stores. Customers may hire them to do a variety of tasks such as improving the accuracy of a weapon or restoring an antique firearm, so these workers need to have an extensive amount of knowledge to do the job properly.

Career Overview

What is a Gunsmith?

A gunsmith is a person who repairs, designs, modifies, or builds firearms. Gunsmiths generally work for firearm manufacturers, gunsmith shops, armories, or sporting goods stores. Customers may hire them to do a variety of tasks such as improving the accuracy of a weapon or restoring an antique firearm, so these workers need to have an extensive amount of knowledge to do the job properly.

What Do Gunsmiths Do?

Gunsmiths have a wide range of job responsibilities. In addition to building and fixing guns to meet client specifications, a gunsmith may also need to test fire guns, install new firearm components, as well as file and polish gun components without causing damage to the gun.

Other responsibilities for a gunsmith can include:

  • Properly inspect customer’s firearm for any defects or mechanical issues
  • Modify existing factory-made gun to meet client’s need
  • Renew worn metal finishes and/or apply decorative engravings to gun
  • Troubleshoot to ensure the firearm works safely and properly
  • Practice gun safety
  • Disassembly and reassembly of firearm

What Are the Qualifications to be a Gunsmith?

Firearms Knowledge

Those who desire to have a career as a gunsmith will need a strong knowledge and understanding of firearms. This includes everything from knowing the different makes and models of a gun, how to clean and repair firearms, changing the look and cosmetics of a weapon, and following proper procedure when it comes to gun safety.

Problem Solving

Gunsmiths should be good problem solvers, show patience when working with detailed projects, and have enough manual dexterity to be able to work with smaller pieces of material, such as the parts of a firearm.

GED

Gunsmiths also in many cases need a certain level of education to qualify for most positions. Many employers want individuals who have a high school diploma or GED and have finished a gunsmithing certification program from a post-secondary program or institution.

What Skills Are Needed to be a Gunsmith?

To excel as a gunsmith, an individual will need to hone a wide range of skills and abilities. A mixture of technical know-how, gun safety, and interpersonal communication skills can help a gunsmith to make the most of their job.

Some skills that a hopeful gunsmith should learn to be successful are:

  • Communication and customer service
  • Soldering, welding, grinding, and polishing of firearms
  • Hand and finger dexterity
  • Be able to problem solve
  • Ability to think critically
  • Proper gun safety
  • Math
  • Drawing

Communication and business skills can be especially desirable for those who want to start their own gunsmithing business. Being able to effectively communicate with clients and having a background in how to run a business may help gunsmiths do well if they’re self-employed.

What is Gunsmith Training Like?

The training required to be a gunsmith is a very hands-on and technical experience. You will need to learn about the different parts of multiple gun types like rifles, and shotguns, as well as how to properly handle them. Instructors will also teach you how to disassemble and reassemble different firearms.

Trainees will also have extensive training in evaluating firearms by type, manufacturer, and physical characteristics. Hopefuls will learn to be familiar with different metal finishes, as well as how to apply them.

Training will involve learning about both modern and antique firearms since customers can bring in a variety of makes and models.

Students will learn how to safely use the required machine shop equipment necessary to complete customer orders. Gunsmiths-in-training learn skills like welding, metal finishing, and gun blueing. They also get instruction in management skills and how to work with customers.

Where Can Gunsmiths Work?

Many gunsmiths tend to work inside gun shops. These spaces are typically clean and compact, making for efficient use of the layout.

A gunsmith’s workspace may also be in the back of a sporting goods store or at the back of a repair shop. Since these workers use different solvents to clean, these spaces require proper ventilation.

Hours

Work hours for a gunsmith may vary depending on the employer. Some gunsmiths work a typical 40-hour week. Gunsmiths who start their own business may work longer hours when beginning their startup, such as working evening hours and weekends to take care of customer requests.

Gunsmiths tend to be on their feet much of the day, moving between machines and workbenches.

Do You Need a Degree to be a Gunsmith?

Most jobs require at least some amount of post-secondary education or training to qualify for a position. In addition to a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent, many employers want gunsmiths who at least have a gunsmithing certification from an accredited institution.

Individuals who want to increase their knowledge, as well as potential chances to getting a job, may want to get an associate gunsmith degree.

Is Gunsmithing a Good Job?

Gunsmithing can be a worthwhile option for those who enjoy dealing with firearms. Gunsmiths are fortunate in that they have multiple ways of finding employment.

With options like retail settings, gun shops, and sporting goods stores, a gunsmith has a variety of options for possible work. Additionally, a gunsmith has the option of working for themselves by starting their own business.

With the popularity of hunting and recreational firearm use in the US, private citizens will need experts to build and repair firearms. Gun collectors may also look for individuals to customize their firearms, bringing in business to knowledge gunsmiths.

How to Get a Job as a Gunsmith

One of the best ways to get a job as a gunsmith is to search for open positions online. Job seekers can submit an application and any other necessary documents such as a cover letter or a list of references.

Some companies may want proof of graduation, so a copy of a diploma or certificate may be necessary in some instances.

On occasion, small gun shops can also have ads in the classified sections of newspapers. Social media sites such as Facebook can also prove beneficial when looking for jobs.

While these methods may offer fewer results than a typical online search for job postings, they can still be a good way to find discover local opportunities.

Qualified individuals may also have the opportunity of starting a business. By obtaining a Federal Firearms License and completing any necessary paperwork, gunsmiths may be able to run a business out of their home.

Can Gunsmiths Work From Home?

In short, yes, a gunsmith is able to work from home if the individual meets all the criteria. Many gunsmiths should be able to acquire a Federal Firearms License as well as a legal business license that will allow them to operate their business.

Like a storefront, gunsmiths who work from home will need to have hours of operation listed when filling out legal paperwork.

Do Gunsmiths Have Other Career Options?

Gunsmith careers can be a promising endeavor, though certain individuals may want to find employment in other fields. While the education and training a gunsmith received are very specific, gunsmiths may be able to qualify for jobs in multiple industries.

Because of their extensive background and knowledge of firearms, a gunsmith may be able to make a living as a firearm salesman for a gun shop. These workers may also have an advantage when applying for jobs as a security guard, gun vault specialist, ammunition handler, or firearms instructor.

Why Do People Become Gunsmiths?

Becoming a gunsmith offers a unique and rewarding career path, mastering the art and science of firearm design, construction, and repair. As a gunsmith, you are responsible for crafting and maintaining firearms, ensuring their functionality and safety. This profession demands a keen understanding of ballistics, metallurgy, and woodworking and proficiency in various machining techniques.

Gunsmiths can work in various areas, from sporting and hunting to historical preservation or even working independently to improve or restore customers’ firearms. Ultimately, the profession is a highly satisfying option for those who value precision and attention to detail and have a passion for firearms.

Career Outlook

Although overall employment for gunsmiths and metalworkers generally is expected to decline slightly over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that around 90,800 openings are projected each year from 2022 – 2032. This makes gunsmithing a highly worthwhile career, as a significant demand remains for skilled professionals in the field.

Gunsmiths with experience can train in more specialized areas, such as branching into custom firearms design or antique and vintage restoration. Gunsmiths can also choose to go on to work in law enforcement or even in government weapons manufacturing positions. Despite the projected decline in job growth, the substantial number of opportunities underscores gunsmithing as a viable career choice for those passionate about firearms and committed to their craft.

In Conclusion: Steps to Becoming a Gunsmith

The path to becoming a gunsmith looks fairly typical for most individuals looking to enter the profession.

Those interested must first get their high school diploma or GED equivalent. Some classes that high school students should consider taking are:

  • Math
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Drafting
  • Metalworking
  • Woodworking

Many jobs will also require post-secondary education. Students can find programs nationwide at a variety of gunsmithing schools. You may also be able to earn an education in gunsmithing at technical schools or vocational colleges as well.

Post-secondary school can differ in cost and length of time depending on where you go. You may be able to earn a gunsmithing diploma in as little as four months from a gunsmith school, while a Master Gunsmithing Program may take as long as 16 months.

In some instances, online courses are also available for those who live out of state to their preferred school.

Courses that you may need to take during your post-secondary program are:

  • Identifying and Evaluating Firearms
  • Rifles
  • Handguns
  • Metal Finishing

Once an individual graduates and becomes properly certified to be a gunsmith, they can begin looking for gunsmith jobs. During this process, you will likely have to go through a background check to ensure you are legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Gunsmiths looking to open their own business must obtain a Federal Firearms License, which requires the applicant to be at least 21 years of age.

After an individual is certain they meet all of the necessary job requirements, they can apply for a job with a location gun shop or sporting goods store.