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You Can Still Make A Killing From These ‘Dying’ Trades

Despite the number of articles about the digitalisation of the workforce and the notion that old-school trades are dying out, if you are able to master the craft, these ancient trades are still a viable option to earn a decent living.

Table showing annual wage of trades

10 Of The Oldest Trades And Experienced Worker Salaries

Oldest jewellery

1. Designer/Maker

Experienced Average Salary = £50,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 40-42

Job Age = 135,000 Years Old

The first piece of jewellery to ever be made is believed to be around 135,000 years old. A professor in charge of a Neanderthal collection found that some eagle talons had numerous cut marks and realised that they must have been used as jewellery, which was further confirmed by an international team. Today, jewellery designers and makers are probably the best paid out of the old-school trades, with those experienced in the craft earning over £50,000.

Example Routes To Becoming A Jewellery Design/Maker

University

University Of Creative Arts – Jewellery And Silversmithing – Bachelor Of Arts (With Honours)

College

Bath College – Jewellery

Apprenticeship

British Academy Of Jewellery – The BAJ Apprenticeship Programme – Jewellery Manufacturing

Specialist Courses

London Jewellery School – Diploma In Silver Jewellery

Oldest carpentry

2. Carpenter

Experienced Average Salary = £40,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 40-45

Job Age = 7,000 Years Old

Tests on an old German water well constructed from wood is believed to be around 7,000 years old and is considered the first example of carpentry. Fast forward to the present day and carpentry is still a valued profession, with 240,000 employed today in the UK, with experienced carpenters making around £40,000 per year. Carpenters making around £40,000 per year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Stonemason

College

Newcastle College –Carpentry And Joinery (Level 1 Diploma)

Apprenticeship

Dishley Commercial Interiors – Apprentice Site Carpenter & Joiner

Specialist Courses

City & Guilds – Carpentry Course

Earliest stonemasons

3. Stonemason

Experienced Average Salary = £35,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 43-45

Job Age = 6,000 Years Old

Around 6,000 years ago, man began shaping stone from primitive tools. Now thanks to the advancement of technology, shaping stone is far easier. It’s still a tough job but if it’s a craft that is of interest to you, the job is still in demand and you can make upwards of £35,000 doing it.

Example Routes To Becoming A Stonemason

College

Building Crafts College – Advanced Diploma In Stonemasonry

Apprenticeship

Laing Traditional Masonry – Stonemasonry Apprentice Programme

Specialist Courses

Ministry Of Stonemasonry – Introduction To Stonemasonry

Earliest known handmade glass object

4. Glassmaker

Experienced Average Salary = £50,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 42-44

Job Age = 5,500 Years Old

The earliest man-made glass objects were beads thought to originate from Eastern Mesopotamia (a historical region of Western Asia) and Egypt, around 3,500 BC. It’s also thought that during the Stone age, man used obsidian to craft weapons and decorative objects. Glassmaking is, of course, made differently today but nevertheless is still a sought-after service and thus glassmakers can make a solid £35,000+ salary, once experienced.

Example Routes To Becoming A Glassmaker

University

University Of Hertfordshire – Glass Art

College

Edinburgh College Of Art – Glass MFA

Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships.scot – Glass Industry Occupations

Specialist Courses

The Glass Hub – 1 Day Glassblowing

First known tool

5. Toolmaker

Experienced Average Salary = £30,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 40-42

Job Age = 3.3 Million Years Old

The oldest stone tools date back 3.3 million years ago. They were discovered in Kenya at an archaeological site known as ‘Lomekwi 3’ near Lake Turkana. Around 20 anvils, cores and flakes were dug up and were generally quite large, with the largest weighing in at 15kg. The use of these tools is currently unknown.

If you want to be part of quite possibly the oldest craft ever, then you can and will be able to earn around £30,000 a year doing so.

Example Routes To Becoming A Toolmaker

College

Bishop Auckland College – Toolmaking

Apprenticeship

Coleg Gwent – Engineering Toolmaking Apprenticeship

Specialist Courses

Pearson – Engineering Toolmaking

Earliest known ceramic objects

6. Ceramics Designer/Maker

Experienced Average Salary = £30,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 40-42

Job Age = 24,000 Years Old

Ceramics designers/makers create products made from clay. Archaeologists have discovered ceramics that date back to at least 24,000 BC with the earliest examples found in what was once called Czechoslovakia. They were made from animal fat and bone mixed with bone ash and a fine clay-like material and were in the form of animal and human figurines, slabs and balls.

Today ceramic designers & makers create everything from plates and cups to piggy banks and vases and can earn around £30,000 a year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Ceramics Designer/Maker

University

University Of The Arts London – Ceramic Design – Bachelor Of Arts (With Honours)

College

Nottingham College – Ceramics For Beginners

Apprenticeship

Leach Pottery – Leach-Seasalt Apprenticeship

Specialist Courses

Clay College Stoke – Diploma Course

First example of furniture

7. Furniture Maker

Experienced Average Salary = £30,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 42-44

Job Age = 5,000 Years Old

The first documented instances of furniture being used dates back to the Neolithic period (approximately 5,500-2,500 BC). Furniture was made from stone and some of the earliest examples can be found in Skara Brae in Scotland. Independent furniture makers differ from furniture designers as their pieces are usually one-offs, whereas if you are a designer, you create the look for mass-produced furniture. Independent furniture makers on average make around £30,000 per year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Furniture Maker

College

City Of Bristol College – Furniture Making

Apprenticeship

The Edward Barnsley Workshop – Furniture Making Apprenticeship

Specialist Courses

The Chippendale International School Of Furniture – Introductory Course

First example of a lock

8. Locksmith

Experienced Average Salary = £30,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 42-44

Job Age = 4,000 Years Old

Another one of the ancient trades is locksmithing. Locks originated in Ancient Egypt and Babylon. It was once believed that these locks were small and portable, used to protect goods from thieves on travel routes, but this is not true. It’s now thought that those types of locks would be too sophisticated for that period. They were actually made from wood and were relatively large and crude. The locks had pins in them and could only be moved by a big wooden key, which once inserted, was pushed upwards rather than turned.

Locksmithing is still a valued trade today and you can earn around £30,000 per year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Locksmith

Apprenticeship

The Master Locksmiths Association – Apprenticeship In Locksmithing

Specialist Courses

Gateshead Locksmith Training – Beginners Locksmith Training Course

Iron age blacksmiths

9. Blacksmith

Experienced Average Salary = £30,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 47-49

Job Age = 3,500 Years Old

Blacksmiths work with different metals to make and repair decorative, industrial and everyday items. The craft can be traced all the way back to the Iron Age with the first instances hailing from what is now known as Syria. Compared to the number of carpenters (240,000) the number of blacksmiths pales in comparison. In 2010 there were only an estimated 600 blacksmiths working professionally in the UK. However, numbers are on the rise and if you want to go into this ancient trade you can make around £30,000 a year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Blacksmith

University

Hereford College Of Arts – Artist Blacksmithing – Bachelor Of Arts (With Honours)

College

Chichester College – Blacksmithing & Farriery (Creative Blacksmithing)

Specialist Courses

Peat Oberon’s School Of Blacksmithing – The Beginner’s Course

First known existence of upholstery

10. Upholsterer

Experienced Average Salary = £25,000

Typical Hours Per Week = 43-45

Job Age = 5,000 Years Old

The earliest examples of upholstery date back to the Ancient Egyptians when the wealthy had their furniture cushioned. This was discovered when archaeologists found the tomb of Tutankhamun. On the pharaoh’s throne was a scene that showed him sitting on a padded chair, with further studies stating that these padded chairs were still fashionable 150 years later.

As a profession, upholstery really began in the Middle Ages when wealthy homes started being fitted with padded seat cushions, decorative wall hangings and bedding began to emerge in what is described now as the textile revolution. Back in those days, the art was one of patience as workers had to use great skill and attention to detail, hand working pieces to completion. The job of an upholsterer can be one that is a freelance or self-employed role, nevertheless, you can still earn upwards of £25,000 per year.

Example Routes To Becoming A Upholsterer

University

Robert Gordon University Aberdeen – Gray’s School Of Art – Upholstery

College

Brockenhurst College – Upholstery

Apprenticeship

The British Contract Furnishing Association – New Furniture Apprenticeships

Specialist Courses

The Sewing Shed – Beginners Upholstery Class

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