Silversmiths solder, hammer, shape, and anneal silver to produce items such as jewelry and kitchenware. Silversmiths work primarily with silver, although they may also work with other precious metals such as gold, brass, copper and platinum.
The median earnings of Silversmiths are $35,170 USD per year, and $16.91 USD hourly . Those whose earnings are in the highest 10% have a mean salary of $61,820, while those in lowest 10% earn $19,170. (1)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal workers. (visited February 13, 2013).
The level of pay for silversmiths who are not self employed can vary as there are many variables that can influence salary; who the employer is, their level of experience and their reputation can all have an effect on earnings.
The earnings of self-employed silversmiths are difficult to determine, as their level of success varies. The final earnings (before tax) of a self-employed silversmith are calculated by subtracting all of their overhead expenses from the price they charge. Typical costs may include supplies, advertising, transportation, legal and accounting services, and others.
Becoming a silversmith does not typically require any formal education, although it may be a requirement among certain employers or clients of the silversmith. Many silversmiths are taught the trade by acquiring a mentor and serving as an apprentice.
It may not be a formal requirement, although it is recommended that aspiring silversmiths pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Design, or related program, as this type of education will give the student a great foundation in the fundamental aspects of silversmithing. Fine arts students often have the opportunity to learn art history as well as manual metalworking techniques.
It is fairly common for trade schools in North America to offer programs that focus on metalworking. These programs may be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in duration.
Experience and training with computer aided design programs is an important skill to have, as much of today’s jewelry is designed using these programs.
Since many silversmiths go into business for themselves, taking a few business courses will allow students to earn how to manage their future business.
Summary of helpful coursework:
The Jewelers of America offers a Bench Professional Certification for jewelers, including silversmiths who pursue jewelry making. This certification involves both a written exam and a series of practical exercises.
Earning professional certification can help a silversmith advance their career by showing potential employers and clients that they are well versed in metalworking techniques. Certified Bench Jewelers also receive various marketing benefits such as an official certificate from Jewelers of America, a distinctive lapel pin and a press release (Jewelers of America members only) prepared by the communications department of the Jewelers of America.
Depending on the type of specialization a silversmith pursues, they may be self-employed, or may work for a furniture or jewelry manufacturer.
Silversmiths may specialize in:
The various elements of a silversmith’s work environment can vary greatly depending on their employment structure. Silversmiths who operate their own workshop will have a much different workday than those who work in a retail setting.
Working conditions: Silversmiths often use tools and chemicals in the design and production of jewelry and other wares. They may also be exposed to extreme temperatures in controlled settings as a result of their work.
Hours: A silversmith typically works regular working hours if working for a retailer or a manufacturer.
The working hours of a self-employed silversmith may vary greatly, depending on the needs of a silversmith. They may have to put in extra hours every night to finish a product, or they may reduce their working hours by taking in fewer projects.
Setting: If working in a retail setting, a silversmith would be indoors, or possibly outdoors in a storefront, booth or kiosk
If working for a manufacturing company, a silversmith would likely work indoors, often seated at specially designed and equipped work benches
If self-employed, a silversmith may operate out of a storefront, workshop, garage, studio, basement or other settings
Personnel: If working in a retail environment, a silversmith may work with a retail manager, and sales associates.
If self-employed, the silversmith would meet with clients to discuss their custom jewelry or silver product needs.
If you are skilled with your hands, have an artistic flare and are looking for a unique career, becoming a silversmith may be an option worth considering. Below we’ve outlined a few positive and negative things to consider if you are interested in becoming a silversmith.
E.J.Van Donzel (Organization United Nations Educational, Scie, Unesco). History of humanity. UNESCO, 2000. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
A career as a silversmith pertains to the undergraduate majors below. To explore other careers that are relevant to these majors, simply click on their links.