As the title implies, a bladesmith is a metal worker who forges and shapes metal blades for knives, swords, daggers and other objects. Bladesmiths are similar to blacksmiths in the work that they do, except they specialize primarily in the creation of metal blades. Becoming a bladesmith requires formal training that usually includes some type of apprenticeship. Pay for bladesmiths can vary based on the quality of the work that they do, geographic location and employer.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide an exact reference for bladesmith salaries, it does provide two separate listings that can apply to the field of bladesmithing. The bureau notes that the average salary earned by those working in the field of metal heat treating was $34,150 per year, as of May 2010. A similar annual salary is listed for those metal workers not listed separately by the bureau. The bureau indicates that these metal workers made $34,190 per year.
Placing the salary of bladesmiths and other metal workers within the larger pay scale for other metal workers can provide some additional context. According to the BLS, metal workers made salaries that generally ranged from about $20,000 to $54,000 per ear, as of 2010. The bureau reports that the median salary was around $31,000 per year, with the middle 50 percent of the pay scale making between $24,000 and $51,000 on an annual basis.
The actual earning potential for a bladesmith is unlimited. Many bladesmiths work as self-employed individuals, creating their own swords and knives available for sale either online or at trade shows. The pay made by these bladesmiths is usually limited only by the sales and marketing efforts of the tradesman himself. Phoenix State University, one school offering a comprehensive bladesmith training program, notes that graduates of their school have reported earnings in excess of $200,000. This should probably be considered the exception to the rule, rather than the norm.
The overall job outlook for machine setters and operators in the metal-working field appears to not be favorable, based on projections made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period from 2008 to 2018. The bureau projects rapid decline at a rate of 13 percent in terms of the number of jobs in this field. However, the bureau does not provide a separate projection for bladesmithing, a field that is heavily dependent upon the individual efforts of the bladesmith himself. Self-employment is likely to be one of the more viable career options in this field as the number of jobs continue to decline throughout the decade.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders—Metal and Plastic
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 51-4191 Heat Treating Equipment Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: 51-4199 Metal Workers and Plastic Workers, All Other
- Phoenix State University: A Few Frequent Questions
- Phoenix State University: About Bladesmithing
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for: 51-4199.00--Metal Workers and Plastic Workers, All Other
- Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images