Gunsmith Career Overview
Gunsmiths typically design, repair, and clean firearms in addition to building custom pieces. Gunsmiths can work for themselves or be employed in a variety of settings, including firearms stores, firearms manufacturers, sporting goods, and armories. Check out the table below to get a brief overview of the skills needed in this career along with the salary and job growth.
|Required Skills||Firearm troubleshooting skills and knowledge of safety procedures; dexterity with machining equipment, such as grinders, lathes, and drill presses; ability to use precision gauges; problem-solving skills|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||-8% (For Metal and Plastic Machine Workers)|
|Median Salary (2019)**||$39,579 per year|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
Steps to Becoming a Gunsmith Online
If you wish to pursue a career as a gunsmith, the only required education is a high school diploma or equivalent. Online programs for gunsmiths are generally offered at for-profit schools and are available fully online, therefore, students are required to complete hands-on training in their homes.
Step 1. Complete Online Gunsmith Training Programs
Online gunsmithing training programs have no requirements for on-campus activity. Typically, the curriculum covers various theoretical principles and concepts, providing education about ballistics, ammunition, metalwork, and firearm types while also offering training on basic tool usage. Most online work is facilitated through written or video recorded study materials and training manuals, with some programs providing hands-on practical exercises to complete. Completion time for gunsmithing programs varies; some programs take as little as three months, while others can take up to a year. Some programs provide enrollees with the tools needed to complete course assignments or offer discounts for their purchase.
Step 2. Earn a Federal Firearms License
After successfully completing their online training program, and prior to finding employment as gunsmiths, individuals must earn a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to be recognized as a certified firearms dealer. The application process for the FFL includes providing a fee and filling out the application form, which includes an applicant's photograph and fingerprints for future identification purposes. The application form can be downloaded from the ATF website and should be submitted along with the processing fee to the address listed on the application.
Once the application has been received and a background check has been conducted, an ATF agent conducts an inspection of an applicant's premises for compliance with federal regulations and conducts a personal interview before approving the license. In addition to federal requirements, compliance with local and state law concerning a firearms business can play a factor in whether or not a license is approved.
Step 3. Join a Gun-Related Professional Organization
Although this is not a mandatory requirement, gunsmiths who are new to the field have the opportunity to join any gun-related professional organization. The American Custom Gunmakers Guild, for instance, provides membership, which could be beneficial in providing networking opportunities and also gives members a chance to learn from experienced gunsmiths. The membership application, forums, and other resources can be accessed on the ACGM's website.