Forge worker, artist blacksmith
Blacksmiths work with different metals to make and repair decorative, industrial and everyday items.
Salary range: £15,000 to £30,000
How to become a blacksmith
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- specialist courses run by private training organisations
You can do a degree course in artist blacksmithing at university.
You’ll need a portfolio of your work and creative ideas for course interviews.
You’ll usually need:
- a foundation diploma in art and design
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could take an introductory college course in working with metal before looking for a trainee position with a blacksmith.
You could also take a Level 2 in Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking though this is only available in a small number of places.
There is a Level 3 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding, which may lead you into industrial blacksmith work.
A course in general metalwork or art and design may also give you an advantage when looking for a job.
You may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can get into industrial blacksmithing through an engineering or welding intermediate or advanced apprenticeship.
You may be able to use this to find a trainee job with a specialist metalwork company.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You could work as an assistant to an experienced blacksmith and learn the craft on the job. Experience in metalwork and technical drawing can be useful for this career.
You’ll find it useful to do a short course in blacksmithing. This will help you decide if it’s a suitable career and may be useful if you plan to look for a training position. The British Artist Blacksmiths Association has details of training organisations.
You’ll need to show examples of your work and decorative ideas to get onto a design-related course or if contacting blacksmiths about trainee positions.
Professional and industry bodies
You can get more details about working as an artist blacksmith from the British Artist Blacksmiths Association and Creative Choices.
You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- design skills and knowledge
- knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
- thinking and reasoning skills
- the ability to use your initiative
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be flexible and open to change
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
For each job, you’ll:
- sketch out new design plans or follow customer instructions
- heat metals to the right temperature in a forge or furnace
- shape metals with hand tools like hammers, punches and anvils
- use power tools, like drills, lathes and hydraulic presses
- join metal parts together using riveting and welding methods
- apply finishes
You could work in a factory, in a workshop or in a foundry workshop.
Your working environment may be physically demanding, hot and noisy.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
As an experienced artist blacksmith you could set up your own gallery. You could also teach craft skills.
As an industrial blacksmith, you could move into workshop management. You could also train to become a design engineer.