Originally Posted by Batesmotel
The best gunsmith I know is asked this all the time. His advice is to become a machinist first. A lot of the money is in things far more advanced than just replacing parts and repairs.
Some guys on here have strongly disagreed with me on this but he builds a very strong argument for doing it his way if you want to make a GOOD living at it.
This is really good advice. I worked as a machinist for over 40 years as well as being a certified dimensional metrologist (precision measuring). My machining included extensive experience in gear cutting, broaching, heat treating, milling turning, id/od grinding, honing in the machine building industry, computor hardware industry, aerospace industry and automotive.
I opened my gunsmithing business in 1996 without any gunsmithing training though I had been an active shooter and firearms enthusiast for most of my life.
Without the formal schooling you will find yourself lacking in many of the important understandings of good gunsmithing. Leaning on a customers gun is BAD practice.
Excellent machining skills and formal training will all but guarantee a successful career. One without the other can make it a struggle.
A broken tap happens but its good to know the tricks of BOTH trades to save that receiver.
I decided to limit my practice to slow rust bluing and repairs and bedding which is far from gunsmithing.
Equipment is expensive and you have to know your limitations and stick within that realm of the trade. You can job jobs out but it has it downside to.
If you learn or focus on a specific nitch there is plenty of work, like bluing or stocking, engraving, bedding, those are things you can self teach and keep the cost lower at the same time. Buy all the old books on the trade you can find there are some worth their weight in lead or gold.
There are few shortcuts that dont cost you in the long run.
Also remember most states require you have a class 1 FFL to operate as a smith. Maybe all states. There are bootleg smiths but its big trouble if things go south.