In order to work as a firearms repair specialist, sometimes referred to as a gunsmith, training is imperative. Colleges offer basic to advanced training in firearms repair, including certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs. Some programs are available online for student convenience.
Manufacturers and industry professionals also sponsor on-the-job training through apprenticeship programs. Individuals interested in working as firearm repair specialists should have dexterity, good hand-to-eye coordination and basic math skills. Because there is such an array of gun types and manufacturers, firearms specialists may focus on fixing particular guns or brands.
Certificate in Gunsmithing
Certificate programs offer a foundation in firearms knowledge, safety and repair. Specialty certificate programs may be available in exterior refinishing, instrumentation technology or gunsmith design. Some course topics might include:
- Firearm fundamentals
- Gunsmithing tools and their uses
- Intro to gunsmithing
- Types of firearms
- Firearms identification
Diploma in Gunsmithing
At the diploma level, students gain more advanced knowledge of firearms repair and develop general business acumen. They learn to adjust triggers, stocks and barrels and gain skills for developing their own ammunition. Students also study metalworking and engraving. Additionally, they learn about firearms regulations. Students can expect to take other courses in topics such as:
- Practical exercise
- Gun stocks
- Metal finishing
Associate of Applied Science in Gunsmithing
A gunsmith program is similar to a diploma program; however, students also take a liberal arts core. In major classes students learn to interpret technical specifications and may take a few more complex lectures and labs in firearms repair and modifications. They also often take classes in technical math and metallurgy. Other common courses include:
- Welding for gunsmiths
- Intro to firearms
- Firearms metal finishing
- Machine shop
- Basic workplace skills
- Orientation and firearms safety
Employment Options and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have any employment stats on gunsmiths, but it does have information regarding metal and plastic workers. The employment for plastic and metal machine workers is expected to decline 13% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. Metal and plastic workers make a median annual wage of $34,080 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
In order to repair firearms, trained specialists must apply to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (www.atf.gov) for a mandatory Federal Firearms License from the ATF. Interested firearm repairers must send in an application and required fee in addition to recent photographs and fingerprints. The ATF runs a background check and sends a field representative to conduct a personal interview with the applicant. After approval, licenses take approximately two months to be received.
To gain more knowledge about the trade, firearm repair organizations and colleges often sponsor training workshops, which can last 3-9 days. During this time, participants usually view instructional demonstrations and gain hands-on training. Topics can include business techniques for sole proprietors and shop owners or firearms assembly and fine-tuning strategies.
Firearm repair specialists can also search the Internet for related message boards, blogs or instructional videos. Additionally, gunsmith books and magazines often provide helpful tips or explore trends and topics in firearms.
To get firearms repair training, there are many options prospective students can choose from, ranging from a diploma to associate's degree; however, students should be cautioned that job prospects for a related field are declining by 13% through 2024. Furthermore, students will need to obtain a Federal Firearms License from the ATF.