2023 Best Online Gunsmith Certificate Programs

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Explore the best online gunsmith certificate programs for 2023. Develop the skills to design and service firearms with flexible online training options.

A gunsmith certificate program can help you develop the skills needed to design, build, repair, and service firearms.

Best Online Gunsmith Certificate Programs

Gunsmithing training programs provide graduates with a range of valuable skills, from technical skills like welding to soft skills like communication and customer service. A certified gunsmith can use their skills in numerous industries and occupations.

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A formal training program can also help prepare you to obtain your Federal Firearms License, which is required for working as a gunsmith. Read on to learn more about online certificate programs in gunsmithing.

Online Gunsmith Certificate Programs

online gunsmithing courses

A gunsmithing certificate program allows you to develop the knowledge you need regarding how to become a gunsmith. You may learn the skills required to build, design, modify, service, repair, and remodel modern and antique firearms.

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In addition to providing maintenance and service that keep firearms operating safely, gunsmiths also have the opportunity to be innovative and creative by designing and building guns. The firearms that gunsmiths specialize in frequently include handguns, rifles, shotguns, and various antique weapons.

Online certificate in gunsmithing programs cover a wide range of essential topics for potential gunsmiths, including:

  • Firearm identification
  • Gun safety
  • Firearm assembly and disassembly
  • Telescopic sight mounting
  • Metalwork and metal finishing
  • Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs
  • Frequently needed tools and machines
  • Rifle and handgun history
  • Bookkeeping and recordkeeping
  • Antique firearm restoration

It’s beneficial for gunsmiths to have the ability to pay close attention to detail. In addition to the technical skills, they must also keep meticulous records and follow specific federal regulations.

While it’s not always a requirement prior to gunsmith training, it can be advantageous to have some working knowledge of the tools frequently used in gunsmithing and the ability to read blueprints. While many students use their gunsmithing training in their careers, others want to develop the skills for their personal use as a hobby.

For students interested in a career in gunsmithing, there are many employment opportunities in law enforcement, government agencies, and the retail industry, among others.

Gunsmithing Careers & Salaries

Gunsmithing Careers & Salaries

After earning a gunsmith certificate online, professionals may use this unique skill set in numerous ways. Many graduates earn their Federal Firearm License, which allows them to work as a gunsmith and even own and operate their own gunsmithing business.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of some careers that may benefit from gunsmithing expertise.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Police and Detectives $66,020
Industrial Machine Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights $59,380
Tool and Die Makers $57,000
Machinists $47,730
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers $47,010
General Maintenance and Repair Workers $43,180
Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders $38,580
Metal and Plastic Machine Workers $38,040
Assemblers and Fabricators $37,170
Retail Sales Workers $29,180

Gunsmiths can also find employment in law enforcement agencies, various government organizations, and firearms manufacturers. There are also opportunities to work in retail, including sporting goods stores, gun shops, collectible stores, and gun ranges.

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Gunsmithing skills and knowledge can also be valuable in other careers, including machinists, welders, and millwrights. Some positions may require specialized training.

Gunsmith Certificate Curriculum & Courses

students getting Gunsmith Certificate

While the specific courses will vary based on your chosen gunsmithing certificate program, listed below are some standard courses and topics you’re likely to cover:

  • Introduction to Gunsmithing: This course introduces the fundamentals of gunsmithing, including common terms and tools.
  • Gunsmith Safety: Students in this course learn the essentials of gunsmith safety when dealing with all types of firearms.
  • Professional Stock Finishing: In this course, you’ll learn stock enhancement and embellishing, including glass bedding, stippling, and carving stocks.
  • Sights and Scopes: This course focuses on the design, development, function, and installation of sights and scopes for rifles, shotguns, and pistols.
  • Cleaning Supplies, Equipment, and Lubricants: This course covers the basic process and supplies for cleaning different types of firearms.
  • Basic Repair Methods: Students in this course learn basic firearms repairs, including repairing firing pins and grips and removing dents and broken screws.
  • Antique Restoration: This course introduces you to a cornerstone skill in gunsmithing, which is knowing how to repair and restore antique firearms.
  • Barrel Repair: In this course, you’ll learn how to make commonly needed barrel repairs, including on shotgun barrels.
  • Metalworking and Metal Finishing: Students in this course are introduced to frequently needed metalworking tools, their use, and different types of metal finishing.
  • Handgun Essentials: This course focuses on the fundamentals of handguns, including identification, ammunition, and firing and safety systems.

In addition to the technical gunsmith courses listed above, many programs include business-oriented information, including advertising, bookkeeping, and advising customers.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for Gunsmith Certificate

While admissions requirements vary between online certificates in gunsmithing programs, some standard admissions criteria for gunsmithing schools are listed below:

  • High school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Federal and state background check
  • Online application
  • Initial reading assessment

Although it is usually not a requirement, having prior knowledge of skills like woodworking and metallurgy can also be helpful. A growing number of schools no longer require standardized test scores for undergraduate admissions, but it ultimately depends on the school.


University offering Gunsmith Certificate programs

As you look into programs for gunsmith certification online, one factor to consider is a school’s accreditation status. An outside accrediting agency will award accreditation to schools that meet agreed-upon educational standards. Schools that want to prove their credibility can apply for the accreditation process.

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A school’s accreditation status can potentially affect you in numerous ways. For instance, credits are more likely to transfer between accredited schools. You can visit the US Department of Education‘s website to learn more about accreditation and the accreditation statuses of specific schools.

Gunsmith Licensure and Certifications

Gunsmith with a Federal Firearms License

While requirements may vary by state, a gunsmith who sells or builds firearms must have a federal license. After earning a gunsmith certificate, firearm dealers are required to earn their Federal Firearms License from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This licensing process includes fingerprinting, background checks, an application, and an in-person interview.

Once licensed, gunsmiths must follow a series of federal regulations to keep and maintain their licenses. This particular license is essential for being allowed to operate or work at a business as a gunsmith. It is not the same license that’s required for civilian gun owners.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Gunsmith Certificate Financial Aid

As you look into gunsmithing training programs, you might also explore various types of financial assistance to help pay for your program.

If you are currently employed in law enforcement, the government, or another business that requires gunsmithing skills, you may be eligible for financial assistance from your employer. Scholarship opportunities may also be provided directly through the school. Plus, some schools offer reduced tuition for veterans or active duty military.

You may also look into options for scholarships provided through numerous private organizations. In addition, federal student loans and grants are available to students who qualify. To learn more about different types of federal aid, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website.

What Is Gunsmithing?

Gunsmith working on a new firearm design

Gunsmithing is the process of building, repairing, modifying, and designing firearms, including modern and antique weapons. Gunsmiths are highly skilled machinists who can build custom firearms, make new parts, join parts, make repairs, and restore antique firearms, among many other skills.

In addition to technical skills, gunsmiths have extensive knowledge of types of firearms and their ammunition. They can also be skilled in reading blueprints, finishing firearms, and identifying and troubleshooting problems. Gunsmithing requires a wide variety of skills, from soft skills like recordkeeping and communicating with customers to technical skills like welding and carving.

What Can You Do with a Gunsmithing Certificate?

Detectives with Gunsmith Certificate

Your gunsmithing certificate program can enable you to develop skills and knowledge that are applicable in a variety of occupations.

After obtaining a Federal Firearms License, many certified gunsmiths open and operate their own gunsmithing business. Others choose to work for another gunsmith or other businesses, including sporting goods stores, gun manufacturers, and gun ranges.

You may also use gunsmithing knowledge in careers in law enforcement, forensics, and metal and machine work. Welders and solderers are other positions that use these skills.

How Much Does a Gunsmith Make?

Gunsmith repairing a custom rifle

Your potential salary as a certified gunsmith will vary based on several factors, including where you live, the current job market, and your work experience and skills.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t offer specific salary data from gunsmiths, but they do lump them in with metal and plastic machine workers. The median salary for these workers is $38,040, though wages can vary significantly based on employer and specialty. Professionals who clean, maintain, and service firearms can also work for law enforcement. Police and detectives have an overall median salary of $66,020.

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Gunsmithing knowledge and skills may also be applied to roles as machinists. These professionals have a median salary of $47,730.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Gunsmithing Certificate Online?

online gunsmithing classes

How long it takes to complete your gunsmith certificate program online will vary based on several factors, including the program requirements and the pace of your schedule.

While completion time will vary between programs, most can be completed within 6 to 12 months. Some online trade schools offer fast-track options that allow you to complete your gunsmithing training in less time. You may also find certificate programs that offer self-paced courses, allowing you to complete the program in less time or to take longer if needed.

Is a Gunsmith Certificate Worth It?

Gunsmith checking guns on display

Yes, a gunsmith certificate is worth it for many students. Earning your gunsmithing certification can help you develop technical skills and knowledge while you learn other valuable skills, including communication, recordkeeping, and bookkeeping. With their unique skill sets, certified gunsmiths have a wide range of employment opportunities.

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Gunsmiths also tend to have job security, given the wide range of industries that employ gunsmiths and the need for individuals with specific skills to repair and maintain firearms. Potential employers include law enforcement, retail stores, and manufacturing facilities.

Colleges Offering Online Gunsmith Certificate Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Murray State College

Murray State College campus

The gunsmithing program at Murray State College aims to teach how to build and repair firearms. Classes typically feature hands-on instruction and are commonly taken in-person on weekdays. Taking general education classes in addition to gunsmithing courses may enable earning a full AAS degree in Gunsmithing Technology in about 2 years of study.

Murray State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Nationally Accredited Online Certificate Programs in Gunsmithing

In addition to the regionally accredited university listed above, the following nationally accredited colleges offer online certificate programs in Gunsmith.

Modern Gun School

Modern Gun School campus

Modern Gun School offers online programs in Basic Gun Repair and Advanced Gunsmithing. The school aims to keep the curriculum continuously updated, and commonly includes many hands-on projects. MGS typically provides the practice materials needed to complete the program. The program’s goal is to help prepare for entry-level gun repair jobs.

Modern Gun School is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Sonoran Desert Institute

Sonoran Desert Institute campus

The Sonoran Desert Institute offers an online program for a certificate in Firearms Technology with an emphasis in Gunsmithing. Potential courses include Basic Ballistics, Introduction to Firearms, Gunsmithing Tools Lab, and Machining and Manufacturing of Firearms. The program requires the completion of 32 credits, taken over 2 semesters that are typically 16 weeks each.

Sonoran Desert Institute is accredited by the Distance Accrediting Commission.

Getting Your Gunsmith Certificate Online

student taking Gunsmith Certificate Online

Getting your gunsmith certificate online can provide you with valuable skills and knowledge that you can use in your own business, in another career, or for your personal hobbies.

Many gunsmiths find satisfaction in serving clients through a retail store or through their own business, but this is just one of many ways to apply gunsmithing training. Given the number of firearms used by law enforcement professionals, hunters, collectors, and enthusiasts, there will continue to be a need for individuals who can service them.

If you’re interested in the craft of designing, building, servicing, or restoring firearms, you can look into online gunsmith certificate programs from accredited schools.

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Kathryn holds a Bachelor's degree in English Education from the University of Delaware, and an ESL certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Duke University. Kathryn has spent her entire career in education, with a focus on helping students of all ages ensure they have the necessary skills to maximize their educational opportunities.