Online Jewelry Design & Repair Degree Programs
If you appreciate jewelry, have an eye for artistic detail, and enjoy working with your hands, consider the creative field of jewelry design and repair. Whether you dream of creating your own line or you want to work for someone else, there are many possible careers in this profession. In retail stores, jewelers, called bench jewelers, polish and set stones, create settings, and repair jewelry. In large manufacturing plants, the various jewelers' jobs are divided into specific categories. One group of jewelers may create the mold, while others assemble the jewelry, and yet others engrave and polish the finished product. A little more than half of all jewelers are self-employed and often own their own retail stores or repair shops. Some of these self-employed jewelers specialize in designing and creating their own pieces.
Degrees for Jewelry Design and Repair
A formal degree in jewelry design and repair isn't typically necessary to enter into this profession. Online training may be an ideal approach to building the knowledge base you need. Jewelry students begin by learning the basics of jewelers' tools and machines as well as the essentials of jewelry making and repairing. Online courses in designing, setting, and casting are also taught. Computerized Aided Design or CAD, and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), courses are also useful, since they allow jewelers to create virtual molds and experiment with different settings and stones. It is also possible to obtain on the job training in CAD and CAM programming. Most programs for jewelers last from six months to one year. Some colleges also offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in jewelry design. Such a degree, while meaningful and useful, is not usually essential in order to succeed, since many jewelers have learned their profession from vocational coursework and apprenticeship.
Career Training for Jewelry Design and Repair
Apprenticeship programs for jewelers usually last about a year. Apprentices may be asked to take further coursework in gemology, jewelry manufacturing, fabrication, and wax carving. Employers sometimes cover the costs of this training. The Jewelers of America also offers four certifications, which range from an entry-level certificate to the Master's level. In order to earn a certificate, students must pass two exams, one, which is written, and another, which is hands-on.
Employment Outlook for Jewelry Design and Repair
Although a lot of jewelry manufacturing is now taking place overseas, the market is also expanding. With the demographics of the United States changing, there are now more women in the workforce, more individuals over forty-five, more two-person households, and more men showing an interest in jewelry than in the past. All of these groups buy jewelry. Although the jewelry design and repair market can be dependent on economic upturns and downturns, with many jewelers expected to retire, there will be a need for newcomers to the profession. When working in retail, many jewelers make a commission on what they have sold. And, if you want to create your own jewelry line, there will also be a need for jewelry in small boutiques and shops, although it may be difficult to get established at first. In May of 2007, the median salary for jewelers and precious stone workers was $31,200, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The highest ten percent of jewelers made more than $53,920, and the lowest 10 percent made less than $18,270. There is clearly potential for a talented and motivated person to succeed in the field of jewelry design and repair.