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A gunsmith is responsible for repairing, customizing, and building firearms by combining aspects of woodworking, metalworking and machining. One can pursue an associate's degree in gunsmithing through trade or community college, the curriculum of which includes general education course such as geometry and creative writing along with more degree specific classes such as stockmaking, gun repair and machining fundamentals. Certificate programs are also available, which provide much of the same coursework minus the general education requirements. Online courses can be taken as well, typically lasting between five months and a year and utilizing guides and kits provided prior to the start of the coursework.
Potential employers for gunsmiths include:
- Law Enforcement
- Sporting Goods Stores
- Firearms Manufacturing Plants
An experienced gunsmith may also choose to open his or her own store. The regulations for store ownership will vary by state, as will the amount of time a customer may have to wait to purchase a firearm. Regulations may extend to the amount and type of customization that is acceptable for firearms, and any individual who chooses to enter into such a business should become familiar with local, state and federal laws governing their business. As laws may change in a given year, remaining up to date on gun policy and regulation should be a priority for a store owner.
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Gunsmiths will make modifications to existing weapons, restore old and antique weapons, and perform customer requested alterations. An experienced and talented gunsmith will be able to construct custom firearms that often fetch high prices. Due to the multi-skill nature of gunsmithing, a gunsmith can also find work as a machinist, metalworker or woodworker.
The demand for gunsmiths in the United States is limited, though there is a small market for those interested in custom made firearms and modifications. Individuals entering the field will often participate in apprenticeships with professionals before moving on with their own career. The average salary for a gunsmith is approximately $37,000 per year, with more experienced or well known gunsmiths earning significantly more.
Those who are interested in gunsmithing may also want to consider machine shop technologist and metallurgical engineering.