Blacksmithing as a profession has a seen a resurgence in the last few decades as more and more people seek out handmade, bespoke items that are unique. This increased need had led many to wonder whether blacksmithing is a good profession in our modern age.
The benefits of blacksmithing are high income, financial stability, flexible work hours, and a creative license. As blacksmithing is physical work, it has excellent benefits for both your physical and mental health. The creativity and varied roles ensure that blacksmithing is also highly rewarding and enjoyable.
This article will explore the many roles and responsibilities of a blacksmith, the training involved, the expected salary, and the many advantages of being self-employed.
What is it like to work as a blacksmith?
As a blacksmith, you will create objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal to make such things as tools, gates, and railings or even bespoke items such as furniture and sculptures.
Blacksmiths are usually self-employed as it gives them much more freedom and flexibility in their work. If you are a self-employed blacksmith, then running a small blacksmith business from home is an ideal way to make a living doing something that you enjoy.
In addition to making the usual items such as tools, as a self-employed blacksmith, you could make items requested by members of the public and provide a niche market service.
Some blacksmiths are employed, working in larger forges. The benefits of being employed include having greater financial security as well as being able to work as part of a team, ensuring help is available for larger projects.
How to become a blacksmith
Many blacksmiths are self-taught, meaning that they have not gone through any formal educational program. While a formal education in blacksmithing is not required for a career as a blacksmith, those who do receive formal educational or vocational training usually earn higher wages and enjoy more successful careers.
There are several paths you can take to become a blacksmith, and one route is to go to college and take a course in blacksmithing. There are a few schools that offer bachelor degrees in the subject, but the easiest and most popular route to becoming a blacksmith is by doing a vocational degree which lasts for two years.
However, if you are not able to or don’t want to go to college, then you can apply for an apprenticeship. As an apprentice, you work alongside a qualified blacksmith who will train you while you are on the job.
This is a good way to begin your career as a blacksmith as you are getting hands-on experience while learning from someone who is already a professional blacksmith that is likely to have many years of experience.
Upon finishing your apprenticeship, you may be able to work for the same employer that trained you as an apprentice. Alternatively, you could set up your own business to become self-employed, or you could find employment with other blacksmiths.
How much money does a blacksmith make?
Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, which include education, certifications, the number of years you have spent in your profession, and other additional skills.
As of 2021, the average blacksmith salary in the United States is $43,653. As salary is dependent on many factors, the salary range typically falls between $37,871 and $49,213, which works out to somewhere between $18.20 and $23.65 per hour for a 40-hour workweek.
Before setting up your business, it is important to remember that you will need the right tools for the job, namely an anvil and a forge. Although these tools can be expensive, they will last you for a long time, which will offset the initial outlay.
A blacksmith’s salary depends a lot on their experience and reputation. The more experienced and the better your reputation, the more you are likely to earn.
Earn extra income as a farrier
A good way to earn alongside being a blacksmith is to also become a farrier, which is someone who makes and fits shoes to horses. Working as a farrier could earn you an extra $20,000 per year on top of what you’re already earning as a blacksmith.
There are not that many people with the experience that is needed to make horseshoes, so a blacksmith has the advantage of already having significant experience in forging and shaping metal, which would make this a good option for making additional income.
Benefits of being a blacksmith
Despite the innovation of machinery taking over the production of many of the tools which were made by blacksmiths in the past, there is still a demand for good blacksmiths. Blacksmiths have the advantage of being able provide top quality work that can be tailored to the customer’s individual requirements.
Unleash your creativity
A good blacksmith will often have a waiting list for customized items as it is a niche market service that is popular with customers who can request any number of different items, which could range from fire pokers to jewelry to swords.
It is a particularly popular service because customers know that they are going to get a bespoke, handmade item of excellent quality that has been designed to their individual needs and specification, and not just something which is mass-produced in a factory.
These bespoke pieces can fetch high prices, providing you with an excellent income. Blacksmithing customized items provides a real sense of satisfaction and pride in your work, and it’s one for the true artisans.
Great income and flexible hours
As blacksmiths have the ability to work at their own pace and set their own schedule, they can work on several items at the same time. This means that it is a flexible job which you could do around other responsibilities, which even makes it a suitable job to do if you only wanted to work part-time.
Blacksmithing is a suitable business to run if you wanted to be self-employed and still bring in a steady income. You would most likely need to put in some long hours until you built up your customer base and established a good reputation, but once you have, you’ll be able to set your own hours and decide on the amount of work that you want to undertake.
How creative is blacksmithing?
To be a blacksmith, you need to have a creative mind that allows you to create interesting designs while having the ability to take a customer’s idea and make it into a reality.
Individuals who are self-employed usually specialize in artistic work, selling their wares to galleries or showing their pieces at fairs and craft shows.
You will mostly likely develop your own style as you become more experienced, which will help you to attract customers while also creating projects of your own. The ability to make signature items of your own in a variety of designs means that you can increase your profits by selling them while developing an additional customer base.
By creating items that are customized to your customers’ needs, you would have plenty of variety in your work, instead of only ever producing the same thing each day. This means you are unlikely to become bored with your work or get tired of producing the same item day after day.
Even though you are working to create something which the customer has requested, a lot of the design aspects are down to you as your knowledge and expertise will decide what materials are the best for the job.
Being a blacksmith allows you to create anything you like from scratch and be creative with it, adding your own unique designs. However, even if you are creating mainly practical objects such as tools or furniture, you can still be creative by adding unique decorations that are appealing to customers.
Frequently asked questions
Where does the word ‘blacksmith’ come from?
‘Black’ in the term blacksmith refers to the metals that develop a layer of black oxide as they are forged. ‘Smith’ is from ‘smite’ or to hit. Therefore, a blacksmith is literally someone who hits black metal.