Career Profile: Blacksmith
Some jobs never go out of style. Doctors, for example, are always necessary because people continue to get sick. Teaching methods might change a lot over the years, but students will always need people to help them gain the knowledge and skills they need for life. Other jobs seem to disappear over time, but they might still be important, even if they change a lot. For example, blacksmiths used to be essential in the days before factories produced all kinds of metal and plastic goods, but their work is almost unknown now. However, blacksmiths still have an important role in society.
In the past, blacksmiths worked mainly in small shops, using hot fires in forges to soften metal enough so that they could pound it into horseshoes, fence posts and much more. These days, very few people ride horses, and the discovery of steel has made metals like iron much less popular than they once were. However, blacksmiths still work in making all kinds of things, such as ornamental metal railings and plastic parts for larger objects. Many blacksmiths work in factories rather than in their own shops, but many of the basic techniques are similar to what they used to do.
Basically, blacksmith work involves shaping metal and other materials into different shapes. Often, the material has to be heated up before the blacksmith can work with it. When metal is hot enough, the blacksmith can pound it with hammers or bend it using strong tools until it becomes something new. In factories where machines do much of the work of shaping and molding objects, blacksmiths might spend much of their time setting up and maintaining the machines to make sure that they are working properly. In small businesses, like those that produce souvenirs for tourists or ornamental metalwork, the job might resemble the traditional blacksmith’s role.
No special education is necessary for becoming a blacksmith, but a high school diploma is helpful. Good mathematical skills are important for being able to calculate amounts, weights and prices. For ornamental blacksmiths, an education or training in the fine arts is helpful, but not always necessary. The most important training for blacksmiths is learning from others in their field. Official apprenticeships are good options, but informal training can also help. If you are interested in blacksmith work, you can already try to find mentors who can guide you through the process of learning what you need to know.
If you want to become a blacksmith, you can already talk with people who are working at the kind of job that you want to do. You might even be able to work at a small blacksmith shop on Saturdays or help out in the summer. Depending on where you end up working, you might make the standard blacksmith’s salary of about $29,000 per year or you might have an irregular wage, depending on tourism and other factors. Does a career as a blacksmith sound good to you? Why not start to prepare for your career now?