Some firearms programs focus on repair or restoration, while others might be geared toward manufacturing or those who wish to start their own businesses. Students typically gain extensive hands-on training working with firearms. Completion times can range from 3 days to 2 years, depending on the program and institution.
Certificate in Firearms Repair
Certificate and diploma programs in firearms repair may instruct students on counterwork and parts fabrication, firearm sales, barreling, stockwork and adjustment. Some schools may offer an advanced program in which individuals learn about polishing tool design and machining.
After earning a certificate, graduates may choose to pursue a manufacturing technology advanced diploma that focuses on prototype gunsmithing. Other certificate courses may include:
- Handgun theory
- Accessories installation
- Bolt action
- Metal fusion
- ATF regulations
Associate of Applied Science in Gunsmithing
Schools that offer an associate's degree in gunsmithing may teach students about firearms made out of metal and wood. Students learn to identify malfunctions, repair equipment and perform intricate gunsmithing tasks. They also learn how to make their own tools and restore firearms. Programs are designed for both individuals who are new to gunsmithing and for those who have experience in the field.
These programs teach students how shotguns, rifles and handguns work, as well as how to repair, clean and assemble these weapons. Some schools may give students the opportunity to specialize in a particular type of firearm. Course topics may include:
- Recoil pad installation, wood stock finishing, stock inletting and glass bedding
- Bolt action barrel fitting
- Blowback principle and misfire correction
- Firearms laws and regulations
- Auto rifles
Popular Career Options
After earning an associate's degree, graduates may be ready for various job positions in general gunsmithing, firearms customization and firearms repair. Career options could include:
- Firearms salesman
- Department of Corrections
- Owner of a gunsmith
- Factory service representative
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a classification for firearms repair, but it does have a category for general maintenance and repair workers. In this category, the BLS expects a 6% job growth between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). According to Payscale.com, as of January 2016, gunsmiths earned annual salaries ranging from $22,368 to $59,777. Workers typically earn between $9.90 and $25.89 per hour.
Firearms repair can be learned in certificate programs, and more comprehensive and advanced firearms study is available through associate's degree programs. These programs prepare students for entry-level employment, but graduates may also wish to start a business.