Jewelry Repair Technician: Career Profile, Employment Outlook and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for jewelry repair technicians. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Jewelry Design & Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Jewelry Repair Technician?

Jewelry repair technicians need to have steady hands, good eyesight and the ability to focus intensely on their work. Their primary job is to repair jewelry by replacing clasps, setting stones, altering sizes and more. They also clean and polish jewelry, smooth any rough spots and shape metal to hold gems in place. Jewelry repair technicians calculate the cost of repairs and charge customer appropriately. These professionals typically work for various jewelry retailers. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a jewelry repair technician.

Education Required Vocational diploma, certificate or associate's degree
Key Responsibilities Restore damaged or broken personal ornaments, select appropriate replacement gems, clean and polish repaired pieces
Certification Certification is voluntary after work experience or proven mastery of skills
Job Growth (2014-2024) -11% (for all jewelers and precious stone and metal workers)*
Median Salary (2015) $37,060 (for all jewelers and precious stone and metal workers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Duties as a Jewelry Repair Technician?

Your main objective is to restore damaged or broken personal ornaments to new or like-new condition if possible. Resetting missing gemstones, re-linking broken chains, resizing rings and reattaching loose or separated pieces are likely restoration activities. Specific tasks you might perform include selecting appropriate replacement gems and precious metals and constructing molds from clay, wax or plaster. You may also drill mount holes for gems, solder metal joints and file and smooth soldered joints. Cleaning and polishing repaired pieces, as well as examining pieces to evaluate the quality of repairs, are also common tasks.

What Are My Job Prospects?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jewelers and precious stone and metal workers, which includes jewelry repair technicians, would see an eleven percent decline in employment from 2014-2024. This will lead to the elimination of 4,500 jobs by 2024, the BLS noted. As of 2014, about 39,800 people were employed in the field. The median annual salary was $37,060 for these workers in May 2015, according to the BLS. You're most likely to find work with jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores, miscellaneous manufacturing firms, durable goods wholesalers, and personal and household goods repair businesses.

What Education Is Available?

You could learn the necessary skills on the job or through a certificate program at a community college or vocational school. Enrollment in a college program requires a high school diploma or G.E.D. Some certificate programs cover jewelry repair alone and others both jewelry making and repair. Courses touch on the properties of precious metals and stones, metal plating, casting methods and soldering. Programs feature a significant component of hands-on work with metals and precision tools. A certificate may be earned in 1-2 years.

If you're interested in furthering your education, some schools offer a 4-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Jewelry or Jewelry Design. These programs explore jewelry creation and fabrication in greater depth and strongly encourage you to develop your personal design sensibility. Advanced casting techniques and surface manipulation such as repousse, enameling, etching and lamination are among the topics covered.

What Certifications Could I Earn?

You can obtain certification from the Jewelers of America at four distinct levels (www.jewelers.org). They include the Certified Bench Jeweler Technician (CBJT), the Certified Bench Jeweler (CBJ), the Certified Senior Bench Jeweler (CSBJ) and the Certified Master Bench Jeweler (CMBJ). The certification exam for each designation consists of a written test and several practical tests.

CBJT certification reflects the skills you could expect to have after about a year of experience. The CBJ is designed for technicians with two or more years of experience. To earn the CSBJ you have to demonstrate mastery of CBJT and CBJ-level skills and proficiency in areas beyond them. The CMBJ requires mastery of all skills.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several related careers that require no formal education or a minimum of a high school diploma, but often provide on-the-job training or apprenticeships. Some of these include retail sales workers, woodworkers and welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. Retail sales workers work to sell a large variety of products, from clothing to automobiles. Woodworkers produce different things out of wood, like cabinets and furniture. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work with equipment to cut or join together pieces of metal and repair metal products.

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