Kiln Operator Schools: Training Programs and Courses Overview

Kiln operators are responsible for overseeing large ovens and furnaces that are used to dry various materials, such as wood and glass. Many aspiring kiln operators learn the trade by completing intensive workshops. Associate's degree programs in ceramics also frequently cover kiln operation, though from a more artistic perspective.

Hands-on instruction is essential to the kiln operator trade, and aspiring kiln operators can find associate's degree programs in ceramics. These programs often feature several courses directly related to kiln loading and operation.

Schools Offering Ceramics Degrees

These schools offer undergraduate ceramics programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Waubonsee Community College Sugar Grove, IL 2-year, Public Associate's $7,002 in-state, $7,587 out-of-state
Henry Ford College Dearborn, MI 2-year, Public Associate's $4,382 in-state, $5,990 out-of-state
Pikes Peak Community College Colorado Springs, CO 2-year, Public Associate's $3,240 in-state, $12,538 out-of-state
California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $43,708

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Some things to consider when choosing a program include the following:

  • Some kiln operator workshops are designed for students with prior experience and operate at a faster pace. Novices should look for programs that cater to beginners, while experienced professionals can opt for more rigorous programs.
  • Find out if a kiln operating workshop provides hands-on experience, since it can be extremely helpful.
  • Aspiring professionals should consider programs that cover career skills such as cost management and handling options.

Kiln Operator Workshop

Most workshops are intended to be completed in a short period of time. Programs generally last only three or four days and feature specialized curricula that teach students the most essential concepts related to kiln operation. Course topics in these workshops can include drying schedules, wood drying, shrinkage, kiln features, and wood moisture relations.

Associate Degree in Ceramics

Another type of kiln is a ceramics kiln, used to bake clay vessels made for functional and/or artistic purposes. Students looking for a more comprehensive and art-focused kiln operator education can opt for an associate's degree in ceramics. Whereas workshops are hyper-focused on specific skills, associate's degree programs offer a more general education that touches on several related topics. In addition to kiln operation, course topics can include history of art, drawing, and painting.

When choosing a program, prospective students should consider their skill and experience level and the program levels a school offers. Students should also look for programs that provide hands-on experience and cover career skills.

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