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Career Definition for a Firearms Repair Technician
Firearms repair technicians are often called gunsmiths, and are trained in the design and crafting of firearms in addition to their repair. Typical repair and maintenance includes the removal of corrosion, diagnosis of firing and trigger problems, and the replacement of worn barrels, which if left unchecked can lead to a loss of accuracy on the firing range or while hunting. Many owners request after-market customizations including new telescopes, according to the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI).
|Education||Apprenticeships available, along with certificate and associate degree programs|
|Job Skills||Old and new firearm knowledge, creative problem solving, mechanically inclined|
|Median Salary** (2016)||$39,072 (for gunsmiths)|
|Job Growth*||6%* (for general repair occupations)|
Sources: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com
The necessary skills can be acquired through an apprenticeship. However, formal schooling provides a quicker path and leads to formal certification. The National Rifle Association has partnered with several colleges that offer both certificates and associate degrees in firearms repair. Distance and online learning courses are popular because formal training programs are limited.
Technicians must possess in-depth knowledge of new, used, and heirloom firearms and be able to provide the customization services that their clients demand. Those aspiring to become firearms repair technicians should be mechanically inclined, like to work with their hands, and have the ability to creatively solve problems. Gun owners have a respect and admiration for the tradition that firearms hold in America. Repair technicians must possess that same deference and hold their clients and their clients' wishes with the utmost respect.
The Firearms industry is highly regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and repair technicians must be knowledgeable of and adhere to all laws. Full-time repair technicians must hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and maintain records according to ATF guidelines. Laws vary widely between states and it is crucial that technicians keep abreast of them.
Career and Economic Outlook
It is estimated that there are more than 270 million privately-owned firearms in the United States, according to GunPolicy.org. Firearms repair technicians are employed by manufacturers, sporting goods stores, law enforcement agencies, and small gun shops either as an owner or employee, according to the AGI. Demand for repair technicians is highest in rural areas where most gun owners reside. Salary is dependent upon level of training, skill and experience.
Alternate Career Options
For other repair career options, check out the following:
Medical Equipment Repairer
Those mechanically inclined with the skills for repairing things might be interested in the career of a medical equipment repairer. With just an associate's degree, these professionals can enter this occupation to install and repair patient care equipment. The BLS projected average employment growth of 6% from 2014-2024. In 2015, these repairers earned an annual median salary of $46,340, per the BLS.
Small Engine Mechanic
Postsecondary formal training programs are available, but many of these mechanics gain their skills while on the job, learning to service motorized power equipment. Average expansion of 4% was predicted by the BLS during the decade 2014-2024 for all small engine mechanic positions. These mechanics earned an annual median wage of $34,650 in 2015, according to the BLS.