Firearm creators are typically mechanical engineers that specialize in designing and making guns. They consult with customers and coworkers to assess general needs before sketching blueprints for new creations or making necessary changes to existing products. They’re responsible for all aspects of gun design, including researching, problem-solving, running machines to make prototypes, testing products and clarifying safety procedures. Engineers also document the alterations they make, the information they discover and associated details.
Firearm engineers create new designs and use their problem-solving abilities to identify flaws, restore guns and implement usage or cleaning procedures. They are knowledgeable about material science, mathematics and manufacturing. They need communication and listening skills to convey their ideas and understand clients’ preferences. Firearm engineers need to excel under pressure, keep their emotions in check and take the initiative when faced with a challenge.
Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Employers often prefer candidates with experience in CAD design software, both two-dimensional drafting and three-dimensional solid design. Tobias Obermeit, chief design engineer at Kel-tec, explained in The Firearm Blog that high school and college students interested in designing guns should pay close attention to math, chemistry, physics and even English, as they must be able to properly communicate their ideas and designs to others.
Certification and Licensing
Firearm engineers aren’t required to be certified, though the American Society of Mechanical Engineers offers several optional certification programs that allow candidates to demonstrate and earn recognition for their expertise in a specific field. However, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, firearm manufacturers that sell or distribute their products must adhere to the Gun Control Act and obtain a Federal Firearms License.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 252,540 mechanical engineers, as of May 2012, earning a mean annual salary of $84,770. Alaska is the highest-paying state for mechanical engineers, who earn an average of $103,840 per year. Between 2010 and 2020, employment of mechanical engineers is only expected to increase by 9 percent. Prospects will be best for those who keep up their training in modern software tools and programs.