A goldsmith is a technical trade professional who works with gold and other precious metals and stones. He designs original pieces of jewellery and other accessories, creates them by manipulating precious metals and constructing frameworks in which to cast them, and repairs jewellery items for clients as requested.
A goldsmith will also offer polishing and finishing services that protect the metals involved.
Often a goldsmith will also sell items to clients. His salary may vary according to the elements of his employment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) placed the mean yearly salary for goldsmiths at £23,803 in its occupational employment and wage data published in May 2009. This translates to a wage of £1,983 per month and an hourly pay rate of £11.40.
The BLS also detailed how the top 10 per cent of earners in the profession received an average of £37,160, while their counterparts in the lowest 10 per cent gained a mean annual wage of £12,402. The median 50 per cent received an average of £22,139.
The majority of goldsmiths work in jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores. However, as the BLS details, this sector of the industry does not offer the highest salaries.
Averaging £25,291 per year, this is below the average salaries offered by specialist coating, engraving and heat treatment services which are listed at £27,859. Other miscellaneous manufacturers offer mean salaries of £22,685, while specialised design services are listed at £19,428.
A goldsmith's salary level may also be influenced by the geographical location in which he conducts his profession. The BLS lists Connecticut as the highest-paying state, with salaries averaging £34,528 per year. It is followed by Illinois and Idaho, listed at £29,594 and £28,600 respectively. Minnesota and Wisconsin round out the top five states at £28,411 and £27,709 respectively.
In contrast South Dakota is listed as offering a mean yearly salary of £19,500 while New Mexico offers £18,447. The BLS reports that the single metropolitan area with the highest average salaries for goldsmiths is Bakersfield, California, at £52,643.
The BLS estimates that the employment market for goldsmiths will grow by approximately five per cent in the years between 2008 and 2018.
Given that the national growth rate across all occupations is expected to be between seven and 13 per cent over the same period, the outlook is not particularly bright. The continued growth of imports for jewellery is the primary cause of this slow growth.
However, the BLS does expect that more vacancies will created in the profession than there are qualified practitioners to fill them. As such, salaries should remain competitive.