Become a Jewelry Repair Technician in 5 Steps
Learn how to prepare for a career in jewelry repair, and review your education and training options. Find out more about the techniques and tools that jewelry repair technicians use to fix a delicate piece of jewelry. Read about the certification options and advancement opportunities for this career. Schools offering Gunsmithing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Jewelry Repair Technician?
A jewelry repair technician, also known as a bench jeweler, is a specialist who restores damaged rings, bracelets, earrings and other personal ornaments to their original or near-original condition. Tools you might use include ball peen hammers, pliers and wire cutters, as well as more complex devices, such as lasers, torches and chemical baths. Your duties during a repair might include evaluating the state of damaged jewelry pieces; selecting replacement gems, metals and other materials; creating models from plaster, clay or wax; drilling holes and soldering joints; trimming and polishing rough areas; and assessing repair quality.
Step 1: Prepare in High School
Courses in art, chemistry and mathematics are relevant if you want to start acquiring skills needed by repair technicians. Mechanical drawing and computer-aided design training could be helpful as well. You'll need a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development) credential for admission to any postsecondary program.
Step 2: Consider Earning a Certificate or Degree
While you do have the option to learn on the job, you could seek formal training through a community or technical college. Figures from O*Net OnLine show that about 42% of bench jewelers have some college education (www.onetonline.org). Options include associate's degree programs in jewelry and metals and certificate programs in jewelry repair and bench technology. Courses in these programs could teach you soldering and casting methods, plating and surface treatment. Academic content is extensively supplemented with labs, in which you would work directly with precision tools and metals. Some programs are dedicated to jewelry repair, but many address both jewelry making and repair.
Step 3: Obtain a Job
Figures for jewelry repair technicians weren't available, but in the related category of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that about 21,510 people held jobs in 2010 (www.bls.gov). A majority of these workers were self-employed. Employment was projected to grow five percent between 2008-2018. Jewelry retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers are your potential employers. Demand for your repair services should hold up well during a recession because people may choose to fix the jewelry they have rather than buy new pieces. However, you should still expect keen competition for positions.
Step 4: Consider Certification
After gaining work experience, you might seek one or more of four certifications offered by the Jewelers of America (www.jewelers.org). Each has an associated exam consisting of written and practical tests. You could earn the Certified Bench Jeweler Technician (CBJT) designation if you have one year of experience or the Certified Bench Jeweler (CBJ) designation with two years of experience. If you can demonstrate mastery of the skills tested in the CBJT and CBJ and competence in advanced skills, you could earn the Certified Senior Bench Jeweler (CSBJ) designation. The Certified Master Bench Jeweler (CMBJ) designation is the highest level of certification you can receive, and it requires mastery of skills at all levels.
Step 5: Advance Your Career
You can seek a high-level position with your employer or establish your own business. Either approach will depend on your initiative and talent. Knowledge of sales, marketing and business management is essential if you open your own business; the relationships you build and reputation you establish are important as well.
If you work for a manufacturer, you could become a head jeweler or master jeweler. In a retail establishment, you could become a manager. Some colleges offer bachelor's degree programs related to jewelry design. You could earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Metalwork and Jewelry Design or a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in jewelry design. Bachelor's degree programs could help you enhance your technical and design skills and provide training in advanced casting, fabrication and surface processing techniques.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: