Case Study: Metal Engraver - Clive

What do you do?

I'm an engraver. I carry out all the tasks needed to complete engraving jobs. So, I'd use computers to set up a job, or a manual metal engraving machine for other types of job.

What is your background?

I started off as watchmaker. Engraving and jewellery was a part of that, so I then moved into this and eventually it became full time.

I am mainly self-taught.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Attention to detail is probably the main thing. Artistic ability. Engineering. And these days, you definitely need IT skills, as almost everything is computerised. For example, you need to be able to use CorelDRAW, and Adobe Illustrator.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

I used to be a watchmaker. Some of the skills I've got from this job could, probably, help me to go into some engineering roles. A lot of the engraving software I use is quite closely related to some of the software used in some engineering roles and industry, for use on milling machines, for example.

What changes will there be in the future?

The main thing is with computers coming in more and more. Also the type of jobs that computers are able to do will become wider. I think, there will always be a small need for some of the older type of engraving machines.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

The biggest challenge is just keeping to deadlines. A lot of my work comes in at the same times each year, so that means I've got a lot of work concentrated into quite a short space of time.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

Opportunities are a bit limited as it's generally people who are self-employed who go into this type of work.

What do you like about your job?

It's certainly varied. The jobs are never the same and you always get a constant stream of new jobs that you haven't done before, which gives you a challenge. It's nice to see finished work, and produce items that customers are happy with.

What do you dislike about your job?

Some of the bigger jobs can be a bit repetitive.

Also, as I've mentioned, a lot of work, each year, comes along at the same time. Things like football and rugby medals and trophies, which are needed at the end of the season, which is around now (May/June) for many people. So, I'll have a lot of jobs, which is good, but also they'll all have the same, or a similar deadline.

What are your ambitions?

Just to keep on with the success we've already achieved, really. Also, of course, to continue to produce good work for satisfied customers.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

I think this is one of those areas where they'd need to find somewhere where they could have a go at engraving on a trial basis to see if it suits them.

Some people take to it, while other people think they can do it, but when they try it, they find they're not suited. You need a reasonably good level of intelligence, as the work is varied and covers a lot of different things, IT, practical work, etc.

A day in the life

8.30am - 9.00am

Sort things out in preparation for opening the shop.


Open the shop.

9.00am - 12.30pm

Prioritise which jobs need to be done, there are always deadlines. Jobs that are already in, get them on to the machines and get them set up.

Lunch could be anything from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, depending on how the day has gone.

In the afternoon, I would just carry on with the jobs started in the morning. Also, things like ordering stock and materials have to be fitted in at some point in the day.

The shop closes at 5.15pm. It's usually about 6pm or 6.30pm when I finish up. There are times when I have to carry on working past those times, for example, when I've got a big job in.

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