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Be a Craftsman: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a craftsman. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and apprenticeships to find out if this is the career for you.

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Craftsmanship is a diverse field involving the use of tools to produce goods. On the job training is typical, but aspiring craftsmen can also receive an education from a trade or technical school. This good be the career for you if you are creative and precise, and enjoy physical activity.

Essential Information

Craftsmen are skilled and adept trade workers that use hand tools, power tools and automated machinery in their daily work. They may spend years perfecting their craft and can be a jack-of-all-trades or highly specialized in their knowledge and abilities. A craftsman may produce anything from furniture to bedsprings to auto parts depending on their skill set. No formal education aside from a high school diploma is required to be a craftsman, however gaining experience and skill is key to having a successful career.

Required Education High school diploma
Other Requirements Work experience or apprenticeship
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -1% (woodworkers)*
Median Salary (2015) $28,990 (woodworkers)*

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Job Duties of a Craftsman

Craftsmen need to be dexterous as many facets of their jobs require precision. They might be highly creative when developing a custom idea, or they may need to follow a specific set of blueprints when using a machine. If a craftsman has a computerized numerical control (CNC) machining skill set, then at least a basic understanding of computers is essential.

Craftsmen work with different types of woods, metals, plastics and glass. This variety of materials can require the use of multiple types of equipment on the job. The various equipment that a craftsman might use include:

  • Drill presses
  • Hand or power saws
  • Grinders
  • Staple, glue and caulking guns
  • Lathes
  • Milling machines
  • Heat processing equipment

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Job Description of a Craftsman

Craftsmen work in environments, both indoor and outdoor, where safety is paramount and protection is mandatory. They may wear things like eye goggles, earplugs, gloves and padded clothing to protect themselves from noise, metal or wood dust. They may work in mass production or in small shops to complete tasks or projects (www.bls.gov).

A craftsman can have a variety of tasks depending on their skill level or area of expertise. Some may focus on making models, die cuts or patterns, while others might design custom furniture. Some may stain and seal wood, while others shape glass or set and operate machines for metal forming projects. Due to the physical, demanding and exacting nature of their duties, many craftsmen have a high non-fatal injury rate when compared to other professionals.

Education Requirements for a Craftsman

Manual dexterity is of keen importance to the craftsman, but gaining experience is key to a craftsman's success and survival. One way that a craftsman can gain experience is by working as an apprentice to a more skilled and established craftsman. There are programs that can assist those seeking apprenticeships in the trade. A master craftsman program might be of particular interest to craftsmen interested in entrepreneurship and learning trades from the inside out.

While the majority of craftsmen will learn and develop their skills on the job, it is common for most to have at least a high school education. Options exist in community colleges, vocational schools and even higher education institutions for advanced learning. For instance, courses in woodworking technology, blueprint reading, production management and furniture manufacturing can help a craftsman gain skill and insight into the trade or eventually assist them in advancing into supervisory and managerial roles.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS) in 2015, woodworkers earned an annual median salary of $28,990, while machinists earned $40,550 and tool and die makers brought home $50,290. The BLS predicts that the job outlook for woodworkers will be a 1% decline in job growth from 2014-2024. Employment for machinists was expected to expand by 10%, and jobs for tool and die makers were expected to decrease by 13%, according to the BLS.

To recap, many different jobs fall under the umbrella of craftsmanship, and all have different salary ranges and job outlooks. All of them require skilled knowledge that is typically learned on-the-job, or obtained through apprenticeship, vocational, or technical school programs.

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