Glassmaker

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Glass decorator, finisher

Glassmakers produce a variety of objects from windows, for buildings and vehicles, to bottles, crystal vases and test tubes.

Salary range: £14,000 to £35,000

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How to become a glassmaker

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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University

Many craft glassmakers have a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a subject like design crafts, applied arts or glass and ceramics.

You’ll need a portfolio of work to show when applying for courses.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

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College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need to get into glass manufacturing. Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 2 Certificate and Diploma in Glass Processing
  • Level 3 Diploma in Glass Manufacturing

Some colleges run short creative craft courses in glass, which may be useful for picking up glassmaking skills and techniques.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually 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

More information

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Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through an intermediate or advanced glass industry apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

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

More information

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Direct application

You can apply directly for jobs in glass manufacturing factories if you have some GCSEs.

More information

Career tips

You may find qualifications like GCSEs in science, design and technology, or art helpful, depending on whether you want to specialise in glass manufacturing or crafts.

For craftwork, you’ll need both technical skills and artistic ability.

Further information

You can find out more about craft glassmaking from Creative Choices.

You can get more information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your tasks will depend on your specialist skills and could include:

  • cutting inscriptions, and producing original designs or copying existing ones on items like bowls, decanters, glass panels, goblets and mirrors
  • point engraving – marking the glass with a hand-held diamond or tungsten carbide point tool
  • stipple engraving – building up the design by hand using tiny dots, highlighting areas of light and shade
  • drill engraving – using a rotating tool in the handpiece of an electric drill
  • copper wheel engraving – using machine-driven wheels to shape the cut, and a mix of oil and grit to do the cutting
  • sand engraving or sandblasting – using grit to remove areas of glass
  • acid etching – applying acid to areas to be decorated
  • hot glass techniques – engraving combined with glass blowing skills to create different effects
  • laser engraving – creating a design on glass with a laser

Working environment

You could work in a creative studio, in a factory or in a workshop.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

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Career path and progression

In a glass factory, you may have the opportunity to move into supervisory or management positions.

You could also start your own business.