Be a Certified Gunsmith: Certification and Career Information

Feb 27, 2019

Learn how to become a certified gunsmith. Research the career requirements, including the training and licensure needed starting a career in gunsmithing. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 0:53 Step 1: Obtain Training
  • 1:10 Step 2: Earn Licensure
  • 1:40 Step 3: Pursue a Degree

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Certified Gunsmith?

Gunsmiths are craftsmen and technicians trained to diagnose and fix gun malfunctions. They also build, design, and make modifications to guns as well as refurbish metal and wooden gun parts. When working with guns they use tools such as lathes, grinders, and drill presses, and to work with small parts and tools, gunsmiths must have dexterity and technical skills.

Due to the artisanship required for many types of guns, some smiths specialize in a certain style of gun. Gunsmiths spend many hours seated or standing to perform their tasks, and they often work in a solitary environment.

While there are no certification programs for gunsmiths, these professionals are required to be licensed. Now let's explore the steps you can take to become a licensed gunsmith.

Career Requirements

Education Level None; associate's or bachelor's degree may help with advancement
Degree Field Gunsmithing
Licensure Federal Firearm License (FFL) required
Key Skills Dexterity with equipment, firearm troubleshooting, and safety, use of machining equipment such as lathes, grinders, and drill presses; problem-solving
Salary (2016)* $15.51 per hour

Sources: Job listings during September 2012; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Gunsmithing school skill descriptions;*

Step 1: Obtain Training

Gunsmithing is typically learned through gunsmithing courses offered through community or technical colleges. Often, these courses are offered as part of a certificate program, and they tend to cover use of machine shop tools, firearm safety, ways to identify problems, and firearm repair techniques.

Step 2: Earn Licensure

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives requires gunsmiths to possess a Federal Firearms License, and individual states may have additional licensing requirements. Officers from the Bureau will generally contact applicants during the licensing process to go over state and federal regulations as well as to ensure that the application information is complete and accurate. Fingerprint and photo records will be taken for future identification purposes.

Step 3: Pursue a Degree to Further Your Career

The career does not require a formal degree, though some gunsmiths choose to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree related to gunsmithing for advancement in the field. These programs include general education courses as well as courses in repair, refinishing and gunsmithing technology. Some programs include internship opportunities that give students hands-on experience. A degree may also help gunsmiths exceed the average salary. According to, the average earnings for gunsmiths was $15.51 per hour as of January 2016.

To become a gunsmith, you generally need training in the field, usually in the form of community or technical college courses, and a federal firearms license.

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