With blacksmithing becoming more popular than ever, it’s not surprising that many people are looking to consider becoming a professional blacksmith on the side. While the art of heating, bending, and forging metal might be a hobby for some, it’s an actual career that can give you an reasonable living.
Even as recently as just 50 years ago, blacksmiths were considered some of the most important people in the village. As such, these smiths often enjoyed a higher standard of living in comparison to the many farmers and workers in the town.
While the advent of 21st century technology has changed the traditional blacksmith’s clientele significantly, thanks in no small part to the rise of urban living, you can still make a jaw-dropping amount of money selling your creations online to people that are interested in buying.
If you want to consider taking up blacksmithing as a full time career, you should know there’s more to it than just making a killing. Here are some of the benefits.
- You work as an artist and work on projects that produce tangible results.
- You can create custom designs and pieces and run your own small business.
- You apply for good positions in various industries to jumpstart your career.
- You can work as an independent blacksmith to make additional money.
- You make things that people can’t get anywhere else and need them ASAP
Becoming certified blacksmithing is straightforward. You complete some training and certification programs, and in some situations, work as a trainee in industries. Fortunately, unlike before, you don’t have to waste your apprentice years in the remote area where the workshops are usually situated. These days, the demand for this field and job is present in the immensely populated cities. Because in the 21st century, businesses are counting on modern design strategies and principles that compel them to stay in touch with the blacksmiths all the time.
Here are a few important steps to become a full-time professional blacksmith.
Understand the Profession
Most people think blacksmithing is easy, as it is a form of art. But this isn’t true. Yes, it is a form of art, it requires a good deal of knowledge and understanding. Start by reading books and watching videos.
It is the quickest and easiest way. Some famous blacksmith books are ‘Practical Blacksmithing – M. T. Richardson’ and ‘Everyday Blacksmith (55 Simple Projects) – Nicholas Wicks’. They have thousands of illustrations and foundation text that explains every aspect of the blacksmithing field.
Learn as a Hobby
No need to sign up for expensive programs and classes right away. Start slow and take on blacksmithing as a hobby. When you learn this profession as a hobby, you comprehend the difficultly level and perceive what skills are needed for the job.
Furthermore, you interact with other blacksmiths and ask questions about this profession. Their advice and groundwork is something that you don’t find in the blacksmith books or online videos. Join local blacksmithing classes in your area; they are a great place to start this profession as a hobby.
Take Online/Offline Courses
Want the opportunity to ask and get all the answers to all the questions you have from a professional person? Sign up for online/offline classes. This is an actual first step to become a professional blacksmith. You can either attend a vocational school in your community or join a popular community college that specializes in blacksmithing. Before joining them, take a look at what kind of classes they have.
For instance, if you are in Virginia, the ‘Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing’ has several education standards for its students. From creating tools to welding, they teach everything. This institute gives you certificates according to your experience level also. If you have a level-1 certificate of ‘Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing’, it means you know the fundamentals and can work in a blacksmith shop. They encourage you to create a portfolio of work too that can assist in working in a blacksmith shop professionally. They have 12 courses in their program and each course costs $499.
Of course, there is a need to learn the craft and techniques of this profession, but it doesn’t have any kind of formal four-year degree program. You get the main education from the trade school/associations that train the novice blacksmiths.
Their programs are designed to offer education classes to interested participants. Try to opt for a school that concentrates on the technical job and gives certification as well.
Join Advanced Classes
Once you have the command on the fundamentals, it is time to join the advanced blacksmithing classes. These classes get you familiar with details that matter a lot when you work on big, valuable projects. You learn about different melting points, malleability, texture, and hardness level of the material that makes a significant difference in the blacksmithing process.
There are some other topics in advanced classes too that are specifically for experienced blacksmiths, such as ‘Plasma Cutting’. It is a melting cutting process that is based on ionized gas at a temperature above 20,000 degrees Celsius. Blacksmiths use plasma cutting for conductive materials.
It is great for cutting medium thickness stainless steel. Other than learning plasma cutting, you study Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG); they are popular welding methods and quite useful for long pieces of metal.
How Much Will You Make?
The salary range structure in blacksmithing is directly associated with education and experience. We know we have already mentioned that there isn’t any formal degree program in this field, however, if you have a bachelor’s degree in some other field like engineering, it can impact your base pay and bonus.
Blacksmiths with a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree earn around $53,000. People with no degree or diploma count on the average base salary ($48,000). But their years of experience and successful projects can impact their base pay and make them rise above the posts of educated blacksmiths.
Of course, you can make a lot more money than that if you’re willing to get creative. Blacksmiths that sell to online marketplaces, such as etsy, can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit every year, many of them working part-time hours. Of course, it will take some time to build up your reputation on these types of platforms, but if you are creative enough and entrepreneurial, it’s definately possible.
Get Your Tools
You always need the right tools to eventually make blacksmithing a career. Building your blacksmithing setup and starting your tool collection has many advantages. You cannot rely on borrowing tools. Once you have the collection of essential tools and a deep understanding of other tools, you can make new tools by yourself. Just focus on getting the basic tools like a forge, tongs, anvil, hammers, etc and learn and how to properly handle and take care of them. Most of the blacksmithing tools can be bought online also.
In blacksmithing, experience matters.
But if you want to become a professional blacksmith and earn respect in the industry, join some degree-awarding schools. Especially, universities that offer a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts can make you a certified blacksmith and create lucrative job opportunities for you across the nation.
After getting the certification, you can also continue your education with any professional blacksmith of your choice to see how this business/career works.
Besides, working with a professional blacksmith assists you in understanding what laws and regulations apply to the blacksmithing business.
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