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Blacksmith Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Blacksmith. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Blacksmith
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Blacksmith Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Blacksmiths create ornamental and functional objects from a range of metals. They apply traditional and modern specialist techniques to form, shape and join metals such as steel, iron, brass, copper and bronze.

• Artist blacksmiths work with metal to create architectural and decorative pieces such as gates, sculpture and furniture.
• Industrial blacksmiths make purely functional items for use in industry and for company premises such as specialist tools, fire escapes or security grills.
• Blacksmiths use traditional hand tools such as hammers and anvils as well as power tools, including power hammers, drills, air chisels and hydraulic presses.

Blacksmiths generally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. They work from specialist workshops or ‘forges’. These vary in size from small sheds to large engineering workshops. Blacksmiths’ forges can get very hot, noisy and dirty, and may contain fumes from oils, paints or chemicals.

A blacksmith should:

• be physically fit with a good level of stamina
• have good technical and manual handling skills
• have good hand-to-eye co-ordination
• understand the properties of different metals.

People can attend college courses in blacksmithing with few or no formal qualifications, or they may be able to work for a blacksmith who can provide on-the-job training through an apprenticeship.

There is no upper age limit, as long as people have a good level of physical fitness. A number of people take up blacksmithing as a second career. Blacksmiths are based throughout the UK, but more commonly in rural areas. Opportunities can be limited, and people may need to move to another area to find a training place. In larger organisations there may be opportunities for promotion to supervisor, and in some parts of the UK there may occasionally be opportunities in teaching or training.

What does the role encounter?

Blacksmiths create ornamental and functional objects by hot forging a wide range of metals. They apply traditional and modern specialist techniques to form, shape and join metals such as steel, iron, brass, copper and bronze. Artist blacksmiths work with metal to create architectural and decorative pieces such as gates, sculpture and furniture. Some also restore antique ironwork. Many artist blacksmiths produce work to their own style and designs. They also create pieces to suit specific commissions from individuals or organisations. Industrial blacksmiths produce purely functional items for use in industry and company premises, such as specialist tools, fire escapes or security grills. They may also create work to meet specific customer requirements.

Work activities vary according to the type of blacksmithing and the specific project or ‘commission’:

• They may go on a site visit to discuss requirements with a customer and to take measurements. They would then make a working drawing and decide on the types and amounts of materials needed for the project.
• They mark up and cut out the metal to be heated in the forge. Each metal is heated to the correct temperature in preparation for shaping and joining by fire welding or modern welding techniques. The blacksmith uses a variety of forgework techniques such as drawing down, twisting, punching and traditional joining methods.
• When the construction is complete, the metal has to be ‘finished’. If the piece is for indoor use, such as a chair, it might be polished and protected with wax or linseed oil. If it is for outdoor use such as a gate, it might be grit-blasted, cleaned, sprayed with zinc and then painted.

Self-employed blacksmiths need to manage the financial and legal aspects of their business. They must also promote their work through special events such as craft shows and fairs. Training and managing apprentices and other staff may also be part of their work.

Some experienced blacksmiths provide training workshops and sessions on metal working techniques for members of the public and for people already in the industry.
Blacksmiths may occasionally be employed as part of a team of blacksmiths to create and complete larger pieces of work.

As well as the more traditional hand tools, blacksmiths also work with power tools such as power hammers, drills, air chisels and hydraulic presses. They may also use engineering machinery such as centre lathes, millers and grinders, as well as electric arc, MIG or TIG welding equipment.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Blacksmiths usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime may be available. Self-employed blacksmiths work as many hours as they need to make their business a success. It can take time for self-employed blacksmiths to develop their professional reputation and contacts.

Blacksmiths work in specialist workshops or ‘forges’ based in their homes or in industrial sites or heritage centres. Forges vary from small sheds to large engineering workshops. Most of the work is done indoors, but blacksmiths may need to work outdoors to install a piece such as a gate or fire escape.

Due to the nature of the work, forges can get very hot and noisy. There may also be fumes from various forging processes. Blacksmiths must follow strict health and safety procedures to protect themselves. Whilst working, they wear protective clothing such as safety glasses, boots, ear protectors and aprons. Blacksmiths usually work standing up and have to bend over to work on pieces of metal. The work can involve heavy lifting, particularly in industrial blacksmithing. However, power tools are increasingly used for much of the heavier work.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Starting salaries are around £8,000 a year.
• An experienced blacksmith could earn £11,000 to £16,000.
• The highest salary might be around £25,000.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

For specific forgework activities a blacksmith should:
• be physically fit and have a good level of stamina
• have good technical and manual handling skills
• have a creative approach and an eye for design
• understand the properties of different metals.

In their everyday work, a blacksmith should:

• be well organised
• be able to do basic calculations
• have good business skills if self-employed.

What type of training will I receive?

Industrial blacksmiths can train through a Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering. This combines training for NVQs/SVQs in Fabrication and Welding with working for a blacksmith or specialist company. It is not possible to train through a Modern Apprenticeship in Blacksmithing, as there are no specific NVQs for this occupation.

The Countryside Agency in partnership with Herefordshire College of Technology operates the New Entrants Training Scheme. Students can gain a range of awards from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, depending on the level of achievement. The apprentice certificate is awarded to people who have worked for at least a year with a Master Blacksmith in a forge. The Certificate of Competence is awarded to individuals who have trained for at least a year at a recognised college. Applicants for these awards must show practical knowledge of a range of blacksmithing techniques and need a certificate from the Master Blacksmith or trainer. The scheme combines on-the-job training with block release at the college. Training lasts for two to three years, and includes:

• health and safety
• care and management of the forge
• scrollwork
• power hammer techniques
• leaf work, and gold leaf gilding.

Trainees work towards a Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths Award. Contact the Countryside Agency or College to check if the scheme is running.

Some courses in three-dimensional design include metalwork as part of a range of craft skills, such as jewellery making.

Part-time Open College Network Accredited courses are also available. These cover subjects such as Metal Craft and Advanced Metal Design.

Professional bodies, blacksmithing schools and experienced blacksmiths also offer a range of short special interest courses, including residential and non-residential weekend courses and day sessions. These types of courses can provide the opportunity to create pieces for a portfolio of work that can be used for applications for further professional qualifications. Contact the BABA for details.

Career Progression:

Blacksmiths tend to develop their skills, interests and reputation over many years. There are opportunities to take additional training and develop specialist areas, which can lead to further work.

In larger organisations, blacksmiths can gain promotion to a supervisory role. With experience, some blacksmiths provide short training courses either informally or through their own blacksmithing schools.

Experienced industrial and artist blacksmiths are occasionally employed by museums and heritage centres.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Engineering Craft Machinist
Foundry Process Operator
Sheet Metal Worker
Three-Dimensional Designer: Craft
Toolmaker/Machine Setter

Where can I find further information?

British Artists Blacksmiths Association (BABA), 111 Main Street, Ratho, Newbridge, Midlothian EH28 8RS. Website:

Countryside Agency Head Office, John Dower House, Crescent Place, Cheltenham GL50 3RA. 01242 533222. Website:

Crafts Council, 44a Pentonville Road, Islington, London N1 9BY. 020 7278 7700. Website:

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Near Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG. 024 7669 6996. Website:

National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers (NAFBAE), The Forge, Avenue B, 10th Street, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG. 024 7669 6595. Website:

National School of Blacksmithing (part of Herefordshire College of Technology), Centre for Rural Crafts, Holme Lacey, Hereford HR2 6LL. 01432 365391. Website:

Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, 48 Upwood Road, Lee, London SE14 8AN. (Please send a SAE). 020 8318 9684. Website:

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Forge - National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers.
Artist Blacksmith Magazine - British Artists Blacksmiths Association.

Is There Another Name For This Role?

Yes. Sometimes job roles attract similar titles. Another term or title for this job might be:

Wrought Ironsmith

Other Useful Blacksmith Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Blacksmith job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Blacksmith Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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