Gunsmiths repair, maintain and customize rifles, shotguns, pistols and other firearms. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide separate salary figures for gunsmiths, an industry shows gunsmiths make one-third more than the average American worker.
Nearly three in five gunsmiths are self-taught, according to a survey by The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades, a trade group. Associate degrees in gunsmithing are available at several colleges, but one of the most common educational routes is an apprenticeship with a gunsmith. Eighty-five percent of gunsmiths polled by the trade group said they'd consider taking on an apprentice.
The average gunsmith makes $14.08 per hour, or about $39,034 annually. Top gunsmiths make as much as $59,236 annually. Those wages compare very favorably with the 2009 average per capita income of $27,041 annually, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
Most gunsmiths focus on rifles and handguns, according to The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades. Time spent on projects ranges from an hour or two for basic gunsmithing to four to 20 hours for firearms engraving. General gunsmithing accounts for slightly less than half of the business done at a gunsmithing company.
The average gunsmith has been in business for 19 years, according to the trade group survey, and slightly more than half own their shop. The survey found that 97 percent of gunsmiths surveyed had a backlog.