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Pottery Maker: Career Profile

Pottery makers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and necessary skills to see if making pottery is the right career for you.

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Pottery makers create pots and dishes for everyday use or for purely artistic purposes. There's no formal education required to enter this field, but pottery classes are recommended in order to learn the basics of the craft. The job market for craft artists is currently growing slowly, however, at only one percent from 2014-2024.

Essential Information

Pottery makers create dishes, pots and other pieces of artwork. Some pottery makers focus on making functional products for everyday use. Others handcraft purely decorative pieces. Pottery makers can work at companies with other artists, but many are self-employed. While a formal degree is not necessarily required for this job, many pottery makers learn or hone their skills by participating in ceramics classes. This market is growing slowly, however, with an expected one percent growth in job opportunities over the next decade.

Required Education None, though formal ceramics classes are recommended; degree programs are available
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% for all craft artists
Median Salary (2015)* $30,720 for all craft artists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pottery Maker Job Description

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places pottery makers under the job category of craft artists, who are usually classified as workers who handcraft artwork to sell in stores or directly to clients. Pottery makers use ceramics clay to make products, such as pots, vases and dinnerware. Most workers sell their finished products at craft fairs, personal studio show rooms or at art galleries, although some may also sell their work online.

Pottery Maker Job Duties

Before starting a project, pottery makers must decide on which type of clay to use, such as earthenware, stoneware or porcelain. Next, workers shape the clay into the desired shape using various tools, including pottery wheels, molds and carving tools. Once shaped and partially dried, pottery makers place clay products into a specialized oven called a kiln. The kiln bakes the clay, and afterwards pottery makers can paint and glaze the product.

Other than making each piece, pottery makers also conduct additional business-related duties. For example, pottery makers who sell their work out of their own stores usually have to display each piece, send out promotional flyers and handle transactions with customers. Individuals who display their work at museums and galleries may also have to transport their pieces to the location, set up displays and write up artwork descriptions for each piece.

Pottery Maker Job Outlook

Examining craft artists, the BLS predicted 1% job growth during the ten years between 2014 and 2024. Unfortunately for pottery makers, the art industries that were expected to experience the highest rate of job growth were not directly related to the ceramics industry. As of May 2015, BLS records indicated that craft artists, including pottery makers, reported earning an annual median salary of $30,720. During that same year, most of these artists worked independently or were employed in the clay product and refractory manufacturing industry.

Education Suggestions

Although there is no standard educational requirement for pottery makers or other craft artists, the BLS noted that well-trained workers with diverse artistic backgrounds stand a better chance at competing for employment. Individuals can choose undergraduate degree programs in ceramics, but there are also ceramics training workshops run by community and private organizations. Undergraduate degree courses provide students with skills-based lessons, such as wheel shaping, hand molding, relief-mold construction and kiln safety. Students also learn about monitoring clay thickness, making uniform pottery shapes, clay carving skills and glazing techniques.

Pottery makers shape clay into finished products using specialized tools, such as throwing wheels and kilns. These professionals don't require formal education, though degree programs and local-area workshops are both worthwhile options for beginners in the field. Job openings for craft artists in general are expected to increase slower than the national average - the most creative and talented pottery makers should have the best employment prospects.

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