Stained Glass Artist: Employment Info & Requirements

Most of the stained glass techniques in use today were pioneered centuries ago, but advances in technology have reenergized this age-old craft. Read on to find out about the skills, salary and job growth for this artistic career.

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Career Definition for a Stained-Glass Artist

Stained glass artists create works of art out of specially shaped pieces of glass linked together with lead, mastic or epoxy. Stained glass art products span a very broad range, from small, inexpensive window decorations to immense pieces of architectural glass, highly valued for their artistry and durability. Stained glass artists must master both classic and modern techniques of stained-glass assembly to maintain and repair historic windows as well as create new works.

Education Bachelor's degree in fine art, art or historic preservation, plus an apprenticeship or studio experience
Job Skills Attention to detail, eye for design and advanced knowledge of working with glass
Average Salary (2017)* $41,180 (all craft artists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 6% (all craft and fine artists)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Although a degree is not strictly required, a stained-glass artist would typically pursue a bachelor's degree in the arts, followed by an apprenticeship or additional work in a studio. Many colleges, especially those concentrating in art and design, offer coursework in glass art, and several colleges offer art majors an opportunity to specialize in stained glass art. Degrees in art or historic preservation are two frequently chosen paths for a career in stained glass art. To gain additional experience in the field, many stained-glass artists serve as an apprentice to a master craftsman.

Skills Required

Like any artisans, stained glass artists must pay careful attention to detail, perform delicate and meticulous hand-work and take pride in their creations. An artistic sensibility in composition and design will enhance the value of their work. Recognizing the myriad types of glass and understanding their different physical properties is crucial. Stained glass artists must know how to assemble, frame, structurally support and weatherproof their creations.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that craft and fine artists will experience 6% growth from 2016-2026, slower than average job growth. Specific data on stained glass artists is not available. However, the BLS did reveal an average annual salary in 2017, for all craft artists who create hand-made objects, of $41,180 per year. The pool of stained-glass artists is relatively small, and the availability of work will depend upon an artist's experience, reputation and business contacts.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Glaziers

Learning their skills through apprenticeships, glaziers install glass in skylights, windows and display cases while creating interesting designs. A faster-than-average employment growth of 11% was predicted for glaziers from 2016-2026 by the BLS. The BLS reported an average annual wage of $47,480 for this physically demanding profession in 2017.

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

These professionals often learn their skills on the job, although a growing number pursue training for this competitive career in trade schools or university fine art programs, where they might learn about gems and metals, in addition to becoming familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) programs. These workers design, manufacture and sell jewelry made of metals and precious stones. The BLS predicted a 7% decline in employment from 2016-2026, due mostly to the manufacture of jewelry outside the U.S. In 2017, the BLS reported an average annual salary of $42,180 for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers.

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