How to Become a Gunsmith
Gunsmith Careers & Degrees

Becoming a gunsmith is for people who are interested in weapon creation, repair, and design.

Gunsmiths get to meet their clients before designing a gun, discuss the requirements and ideas.

After the initial meeting, gunsmiths create blueprints, mock-ups, and then the final product, revising it till the client is happy.

The job of a gunsmith often involves repair work and adding accessories to an existing piece for a client.

For example, a gunsmith’s job could be to mount a scope on a weapon, fix or change it for better accuracy.

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  • Build weapons according to the requirements of individual clients
  • Assembling and disassembling different guns for maintenance
  • Problem-solving that involves the client’s gun
  • Making sure the guns in their care are clean
  • Custom work such as engraving
  • Repairs and sales

Education & Requirements

There are several ways to approach education within the field.

One of the options is to find a college or a technical school that offers a degree, a diploma, or a certificate in the field.

Whether a degree, a diploma, or a certificate is your preference, acquiring one of these is the best way to begin a great career.

Gunsmithing programs offering a diploma or certificate are available in many technical colleges and will take six months to complete.

Nowadays there are also possibilities to study online.

Many colleges offer students an associate degree if they are interested in a gunsmith’s career.

An associate’s program will take two years to finish.

Associate programs allow students to thoroughly learn the basics before starting expert level studies.

Even though the programs are different from one another the areas covered will closely resemble one another to make sure everything is covered.

Students will cover topics including:

  • Safety of firearms and handling
  • How firearms are grouped in different categories by their historical period, the company manufacturing them and what it looks like
  • Pulling a firearm apart and putting it together correctly
  • Custom modifications and accessorizing
  • Chemical reactions involved
  • Ballistics
  • Understanding of diagnosing weapons that have stopped working

National Rifle Association (NRA) offers courses in the field of gunsmithing.

Although they do not give any credit, they can be a good starting point for people interested in becoming gunsmiths.

Becoming an apprentice is also a part of education, and it is essential to mention this option.

Learning from an established professional allows you to absorb the knowledge and gain experience you will often not be able to find in a book.

Apprenticeship is an alternative to a college or university, but you might need to register it to be able to work on our own later.

When your apprenticeship is approved, there is a number of hours you have to work with a professional to be able to achieve a designation.

Job Outlook & Growth for Gunsmithing

Gunsmithing falls into the classification of metal or plastic work.

There is about a 5% decline where the job outlook is concerned.

Depending on the path you want to take, the job outlook looks more promising even though there is a potential downward slope within the gunsmithing field.

Gun manufacturing companies benefit from employing gunsmiths because of their knowledge and experience.

Gunsmith Salary

The median salary for gunsmiths can be expected at $39,935.

The wage depends on education and knowledge within the field.

A good way to learn about the career is to find an apprenticeship to learn as much as possible from established professionals.

Another way to learn is to look for a job within the manufacturing of weapons.

There are also courses offering education and a salary increase to go along with them.

Gunsmith’s work is not location-specific.

It is possible to work alone in a workshop, to find workspace in a gun shop or even an outdoor gear store.

Some locations will also be able to pay towards the salary a gunsmith earns.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$44,170
New Jersey$48,940
New Mexico$46,300
New York$44,900
North Carolina$47,600
Rhode Island$40,230
South Carolina$52,610
West Virginia$51,430

The top earning state in the field is Utah, where the average salary is $55,330.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Utah - $55,330
Oregon - $54,970
Nevada - $52,820
South Carolina - $52,610
Massachusetts - $51,510
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Metal-Refining Furnace Operators and Tenders, OCC Code 51-4051, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is the Average Salary of a Gunsmith?

The hourly salary for a gunsmith is $15.

Median salary annually comes to $39,935.

QuestionWhat Licence Is Required to Work as a Gunsmith?

A valid Federal Firearms license is necessary to work as a gunsmith because they often handle guns belonging to their clients.

To acquire a Federal Firearms license, you must be 21 or older and comply with ethical and legal standards.

A formal background check is also carried out before the applicant can start studying to become a gunsmith.

Convicted felons are not able to become gunsmiths.

Felons are not allowed to own or handle firearms.

Restraining orders and domestic violence also has an impact on the background checks, so the individuals could be rejected.

Another aspect that could prevent someone to become a gunsmith is their mental health, as people who have been admitted to an institution are not able to work within this field.

QuestionWhat Is the Age Requirement to Become a Gunsmith?

People who are 21 or older can become gunsmiths.

QuestionHow Many Hours Gunsmiths Work?

Gunsmiths can expect a 40-hour week from Monday to Friday.

There could be a need to work more hours and include weekends, depending on the project the gunsmith is working on.

QuestionWhat Is the Difference Between a Firearms Engineer and a Gunsmith?

Firearms engineers work with diagnostics of design issues of existing weapons.

The military often works with firearms engineers to create new weapons to suit their needs according to military specifications.

The functionality of a gun is often the main focus of a firearms engineer.

The history of firearms is a field gunsmiths are more interested in as artisans.

Gunsmiths get to use their creativity when working with firearms.

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