If you are looking to become a gunsmith then some of your first questions will naturally be “What is the average gunsmith salary?”, “What is the starting gunsmith salary?”, and “What’s the maximum gunsmith salary I can expect to make in this career?”
Overall the most recent gunsmith salary survey showed continued increases in annual salaries. The average starting salary for an entry level gunsmith is $26,500. The most experienced gunsmith’s are paid over $60,000 a year. The overall average for a gunsmith is $43,250 annually. (Source: allstarjobs.com)
While these are the averages, there are a lot of variables such as location, type of gunsmithing, and type of employer which influences the average gunsmith pay.
What affects your Gunsmith Salary
Type of Gunsmithing: Gunsmiths can be generalist or specialize. Specialties include custom design, finisher, engraver, pistol smith, or stockmaker. As with most jobs, a specialist is paid higher but will have fewer job opportunities.
Type of employer: You can work for a large gun manufacture, law enforcement, military, or the sporting good industry. A large gun manufacture generally pays the most because they are for profit companies which look to attract and maintain the best talent while law enforcement and military annual salary is lower due to budget constraints and government oversight.
Location: Gunsmith salaries in California, New York and Illinois are generally higher due to lower supply of qualified gunsmiths and an overall higher cost of living. Gunsmith salaries in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee are among the lowest due to a lower cost of living and more gun owners repairing and modifying their guns at home.
Ways to increase your Gunsmith Salary
You can increase your gunsmith income in 4 ways:
- Gain additional years of experience. This is the slow and steady way to increase your salary. While gunsmiths are not unionized most gunsmith employers have a standardized salary chart that rewards years of experience and years of service at their company. An entry level gunsmith should expect to receive 5 to 8% annual salary increases each year simply based on years of experience.
- Obtain your own Federal Firearms License. It is highly recommended to obtain your FFL before even seeking employment but if you haven’t; do so immediately. All gunsmiths must have their own license or work for someone who has a license. Employers who hire gunsmiths without a license know they can pay them less because you have fewer employment opportunities. Many employers will immediately reward you once you get a license to keep you from leaving for a better job.
- Specialize. Find a specific aspect of gunsmithing that you love and focus on it. Take additional training classes at a gunsmith school, talk to others that specialize, and ask your boss to work more in that area to gain experience. The best areas of to specialize in include custom designer, engraver, pistol smith, stockmaker, metal finisher, and restoration.
- Start your own gunsmithing business. A great way to start your own business as a gunsmith is to start taking on extra work at home. Use your network of friends and people you have completed gunsmith work for to get an extra side business started. You can grow the business as fast as you would like and even quit your current job once you get enough business. It’s recommended to setup a dedicated space for your business and follow the requirements of keeping a permanent “bound book” along with the other best practices of setting up a LLC, bookkeeping, etc.
Gunsmith Salary by State
California Yearly Gunsmith Pay Statistics
|Average Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$27,599 – $41,398|
|Starting Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$22,728 – $34,093|
|Top Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$32,469 – $48,704|
Illinois Yearly Gunsmith Pay Statistics
|Average Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$26,950 – $40,424|
|Starting Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$22,194 – $33,291|
|Top Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$31,705 – $47,558|
Pennsylvania Yearly Gunsmith Pay Statistics
|Average Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$24,820 – $37,230|
|Starting Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$20,440 – $30,660|
|Top Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$29,200 – $43,799|
New York Yearly Gunsmith Pay Statistics
|Average Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$28,335 – $42,502|
|Starting Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$23,334 – $35,002|
|Top Yearly Gunsmith Salary||$33,335 – $50,002|
Learn more about gunsmithing schools.