Leather craftworker

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Leather worker, saddler

Leather craftworkers make clothes, shoes and accessories from leather, using traditional methods.

Salary range: £14,000 to £22,000

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How to become a leather craftworker

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies
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College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills you need in this job. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Apparel, Footwear, Leather or Textile Production
  • Level 3 Diploma in Apparel, Footwear, Leather or Textile Production
  • Level 3 Diploma in Fashion and Design

You could also specialise with a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Saddlery, if you want to work with suppliers to the horse riding industry.

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

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Apprenticeship

You can do a leather craftsperson intermediate apprenticeship, or specialise in saddlework by completing a bespoke saddler advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Direct application

You can apply directly to be taken on as a trainee craftworker. Employers may be more interested in your practical ability than formal qualifications, although it’ll help if you have GCSEs in subjects like English, art and design, maths, and design and technology.

Other routes

If you want to work in saddlery and harness making, you can do specialist training through The Society of Master Saddlers.

You can also do specialist leather courses through the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and the BLC Leather Technology Centre.

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Further information

You can find out more about working in the leather industry from Creative Choices and The Leathersellers’ Company.

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

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of maths
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • 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 day-to-day duties may include:

  • using a pattern to measure and cut pieces of leather
  • designing clothing, coverings or accessories
  • preparing leather, using chemicals
  • stitching pieces of leather by hand or machine
  • adding handles, straps and buckles
  • staining, waxing and polishing products

Working environment

You could work in a workshop, in a factory or from home.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

You could become a supervisor or specialise in an area like leather pattern design, sales or marketing.

You could also set up your own business or move into the leather manufacturing and finishing industry.