Career Profile: Blacksmith
When you think of a blacksmith, you probably think of an antiquated trade that you only read about in fantasy novels. The truth is that blacksmithing is still very relevant today. Many industrial items are still forged by blacksmiths, or are repaired and maintained by their talents. Decorative metal adornments on fences, buildings, and other structures are made by forges as well.
What does it take to become a blacksmith? Right off the bat, you need a few basic skills: decent hand-eye co-ordination, exceptional problem-solving skills, and an eye for creativity. With these skills and the passion for shaping metal, it’s time to start taking classes. A few colleges or vocational schools offer a blacksmithing course that allows you to learn your way around the forge, practice safety measures, and work with different tools and techniques. If there are no classes in the colleges in your area, you could benefit from online classes and invest in your own blacksmithing setup.
Once you excel in these courses, you’re set for advanced metal-working courses where you will learn about more modern blacksmithing techniques and build on your portfolio. Some of these advanced techniques include plasma cutting (using an accelerated jet of hot plasma to cut through electrically conductive metals) and different kinds of welding.
It’s important to get a decent blacksmith studio together and practice different techniques. You will be working with a heating forge, tools (tongs, clamps, hammer and a vice), an anvil, and safety equipment. With the education, the tools, and the certification, you’re ready to join the blacksmithing community. There is a wealth of organizations that you can join, such as the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA) and other provincial associations.
Now you can start finding work as a commercial blacksmith or as a demonstrator of the trade at fairs and museums. Experts in the trade believe that blacksmithing is experiencing a resurgence, but also warn that many blacksmiths, especially freelance, will have difficulty earning a living in this full-time job. The average salary for a blacksmith is roughly $35,000, though some experienced blacksmiths claimed to make around $40,000. There’s also no shortage of work for a commercial blacksmith shop.
Being a blacksmith has other benefits, especially for those who favour the self-employed route. Trades generally have the perk of being in high demand as far as their workers go. Being a blacksmith in the modern age is still a viable career path, although making a living may be difficult for people starting out in the field.
Leave a comment!