How to Become a Silversmith: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a silversmith. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in silversmithing.

Do I Want to Be a Silversmith?

Silversmiths create works of art with what is considered a highly malleable metal and therefore must learn careful techniques to use when sculpting or casting. Some silversmiths work in fabrication of bowls and ornamental objects, while others design and create jewelry. Precautions need to be taken when working with chemicals or sharp tools.

Job Requirements

In Europe and Great Britain, apprenticeship programs are still available for aspiring silversmiths, but in the United States, it usually comes down to getting the right education, such as completing a trade school training program for jewelers or metalworkers. The following table shows typical requirements to become a silversmith:

Common Requirements
Degree Level None required; 6-month to 1-year training programs are common; some fine arts metalworkers earn bachelor's, and even master's, degrees**
Degree Field(s) Jewelry design, fine arts**
Experience Experience or apprenticeship is typically required*
Key Skills Critical thinking*, artistic ability, production, understanding of current fashion**
Computer Skills CAD software**
Technical Skills Knowledge of equipment such as polishing wheels, torches and hand drills*
Additional Requirements Manual dexterity*

Sources: *O*Net Online, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree

The first things a silversmith learns are design and drawing techniques. It is important that the smith be able to create a representation of the desired object in order to plan precisely what will be needed to bring it to life. A Bachelor of Fine Arts program might explores the fundamental aspects of silversmithing, from art history to general metalsmithing techniques such as casting and enameling. Silversmiths learn to work with a variety of metals rather than only silver, because many of their creations combine more than one type of metal. Programs are also available to help the student work toward creating his or her first silver portfolio.

Success Tip:

  • Consider taking business courses. Because many silversmiths go into business for themselves, many find it useful to possess knowledge of bookkeeping and other aspects of business operation.

Step 2: Earn a Master of Fine Arts

Completing a Master of Fine Arts degree program requires the student to learn advanced silversmithing and metalsmithing techniques. The curriculum delves into electroforming, a process that uses sculpted wax forms and electroplating to create hollowware, vessels and sculptures. Aspiring silversmiths are given greater freedom to explore ways of blending their creative vision with metals and gems. Imagination and experimentation are encouraged in this program.

Step 3: Complete a Graduate Portfolio

Silversmiths, like other artists, present their credentials in portfolio form. Artists' portfolios display their work and ideas in 2-dimensional form through photographs and sketches. These show off the artists' talent to potential employers and customers.

Step 4: Find a Job

Many silversmiths work as freelancers or go into business on their own. Silversmith artisans who do custom design work are found in several venues, such as jewelry shops. Silversmiths may also work for larger companies, including jewelry retailers and auction houses.

Success Tip:

  • Join a professional organization. For silversmiths, the nationally recognized professional organization is the Society of American Silversmiths (SAS). The SAS provides assistance outlets for new silversmiths, including career-building advice, supply discounts and online technical advice.

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