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Glass Blower: Job Description & Career Info

Find out more about what glass blowers do to see if this is the right job for you. Discover how you can become one, what the career prospects are, and what earning prospects are.

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Career Definition

Glass blowing is an ancient art form, originally used for making bottles and tableware. In modern times there are scientific applications for glass blowing, but the technique is more commonly used to create decorative objects. Glass blowers, also called glassmiths or gaffers, use three separate apparatuses or divisions of a furnace to gather the molten glass, reheat it to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the creative process, and to gradually cool the final product. Traditionally, glass blowing has been used for bottles, especially small ones for perfume and for tableware such as stemmed glasses. Hand-blown stemware is still a popular outlet for glass blowing artists; decorative art and glassware used in scientific settings, such as chemistry labs, are other uses for this talent.

Become a Glass Blowing Professional

Required Education

Glass blowing is taught at specific schools, art studios, and art galleries across the U.S. Prospective glass blowers may find undergraduate fine arts programs with a concentration in glass that includes glass blowing techniques. Training under a glass blowing professional or taking non-credit classes or workshops in glass blowing are also ways that glass blowers can hone their skills.

Required Skills

Glass blowing involves a very specific skill set. It requires patience, heat tolerance, and willingness to work in potentially hazardous conditions. Glass blowing technique involves handling molten glass, as well as a variety of tools, metals, and dyes for decoration and scientific notation.

Careers and Salaries

Careers typically include teaching and artistic work, and salaries vary from the hobbyist to the master craftsman. Glassware for scientific settings is usually priced by the case, so there is no specific average salary, according to the American Scientific Glassblowers Society (www.asgs-glass.org). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), molders, shapers, and casters, except metal and plastic, and including glass blowers, earned a median annual wage of $29,300 in May 2012. Job growth for molders, shapers, and casters is projected to be 8% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

Alternative Career Options

Printing Press Operators

Printing press operators prepare jobs for and run printing presses that perform flexography, gravure, letterpress, and offset lithography work; printing press operators are typically also responsible for the maintenance of the machines that complete those jobs. There are also plateless presses that run digital, electrostatic, and ink-jet printing jobs. Printing press operators can get a job with a high school diploma; they receive on-the-job training. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for printing press operators is expected to decline 1% from 2010-2020. The median pay of printing press operators was $34,690 in 2012, reported the BLS.

Machinist

Machinists operate machine tools for the production of specialized metal parts; these machine tools may be computer numerically controlled or run manually or automatically. They set up the machines, making adjustments as needed so that the manufactured parts meet the specifications set forth in the blueprints for the part. To prepare for a machinist job, one can complete a post-secondary education program or an apprenticeship, or get on-the-job training. Voluntary certification programs are also available to working machinists. Jobs for machinists are predicted to grow 8% from 2010-2020, per the BLS. The agency also reports that the median salary for machinists was $39,500 in 2012.

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