If you have a passion for the luxurious things in life, then a career path in the precious and luxurious metals industry may be the perfect fit.
Precious metal workers are a type of jeweler, but they primarily focus on working with precious metals. It is a respected profession and could be the ideal career path for those that love detail oriented work that is hands-on with a bit of creativity.
What does a precious metal worker do?
Those in precious metals careers will work on various precious metals. This typically includes platinum, silver, gold, and other precious metals. Also other valuable gemstones may be part of your experiences depending on where you work.
Some of the tasks you may do day to day might include:
- Using tools to smooth joints and rough spots on metals
- Clean and polish jewelry
- Create quotes for customers
- Solder metal
- Shape metal
- Model new pieces and cast them in metal
Because of the many different opportunities within this industry, what you do will depend on the specific niche you go decide to work in. For example as a gemologist your day to day work may be very different than that of a bench jeweler.
Where Will They Work?
Precious metal workers work in a variety of environments which can include:
- Jewelry store
- Furniture restoration
- Pawn shops
- Coin specialist
If you decide to work with jewelry you might repair items, craft new jewelry pieces, or help customers with resizing. Those with more experience can also work as a consultant to help insurance agents understand the value of items.
Working with antiques can have you restoring old items to bring them back to life. Tea sets, silverware, jewelry boxes, and more may require delicate care with cleaning and restoration.
If you have an artistic side, then you may be one who actually creates new items either from your own plans or those provided to you. If not creating from scratch, you might do intricate etchings on sheets of metal.
Many of these jobs might also full under the career path of consumer services, which is also a good one to look into. These careers are more focused on working with people and supplying them with the products and services they need. This is a great career path for those of you that are “people” oriented.
Is Precious metals a good career path?
No, we cannot say that precious metals is a good career path at this time. The industry is already very small, and they do not expect career growth in the coming years. This means not a lot of opportunity for those looking to get into the career.
While there is no exact data on this subset of the metal industry, you can read our guide on just how many jobs are available in precious metals. This will give a little more insight into just how small the industry is.
If you are looking for a job that is stable and has growth opportunity, then this industry would not be it. The increase of items being imported and the loss of traditional jewelry stores are having some impact on the growth.
But, if you want a job because you are passionate about jewelry and design, then it is definitely worth going into. You can learn a bit more about this career below.
Related: Welding as a career
How to become a precious metal worker
You will be happy to know, no college degree is required to get into this line of work, but a GED or high school diploma is usually required. Most workers in the precious metal industry do have some secondary schooling, but not in any particular degree.
They might attend a community college, vocational school and some will get certification from the Gemological Institute of America Inc (GIA). This would be the recommended way to get into the career as certification from GIA can show your dedication to be a committed employee.
If you are motivated, you can try and land an apprenticeship with an experienced professional and get hands-on practical training.
Any educational background is acceptable, but we definitely recommend getting certified with GIA and then doing an apprenticeship. Both of these will help improve your chances of landing a great job and make you the type of employee that is in high demand by employers.
You can also join a metalworking community to find others that you can learn from!
There are a lot of skills needed to do this job well including:
- Good eyesight. You may be working on small details and have to be focused on certain areas for long lengths of time.
- Honest. Working with valuable gemstones and high value metals require a lot of trust, so it is important to be ethical in this career.
- Focus. Having the ability to really focus on stay on task is important.
- Steady hands. Some paths in this industry may have you working on very small parts – specifically jewelry. A steady hand will be critical for detailed work that may need to be done.
Career growth opportunities
As long as precious metals remain a popular item for people who love luxury, you can feel confident in the job security this career path offers. While there are many career paths that are much more stable and have more growth, the precious metals industry can still be an amazing career path.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have specific numbers just for those that work with precious metals, but offers statistics for jewelers as a whole.
The average salary for 2020 was $41.900 annually. The number of job positions available is showing no growth through 2030. This does not mean there is no opportunity though! Some people will leave the profession due to retirement or change of careers – so opportunities will exist.
Top states for employment
Some states employee more metal workers than others, so if you want to increase your chances of being employed – these are the states you should consider.
- New York
New York and California also offer much higher wages coming in at about $51,000 annually.
Precious metal workers pros & cons
Precious metals involves risks since the value of these items can be large, there is always the risk of robbery. This of course would be dependent on where you work, but a jewelry store or pawn shop will put you at higher risk than a museum or large company. So safety is definitely a con with this career.
Another con is the long term outlook for jobs. With the labor market flat in growth it could be challenging to find a satisfactory position in the industry.
One of the pros is the ability to be creative! If you are an artist at heart, then working as a precious metals worker can help you get those creative juices going. Whether you work in antique restoration or with jewelry, there is a chance for that creative outlet.
Another pro is that you will always be working indoors. Unlike other trade career paths that may have you in heights, in the snow, or outside during the blazing heat – you will be able to work indoors.
Maybe you decided actually working on metals is not for you! Well, there are other opportunities as well.
Did you know a lot of people actually buy and sell precious metals? Yep, every day lots of precious metals are passing the hands of people like you and me. These metals are considered a good investment and a low credit risk, so if that is more your thing you can give investing metals a try.
You can trade on your own or work as a broker for a larger trading company. This thread offers some good insight from someone working as a gold dealer.