Most glassmakers work in automated factories, mass producing glass products such as windows, containers and insulation units. Craft glassmakers, who usually work in smaller studios, produce handmade goods such as giftware.
Also known as
- Blower, Glass
Video: - Nick: Glassmaker
Glassmakers work in one of two areas: industrial or craft.
Industrial glassmakers produce glass products in large quantities. They work with a variety of technological equipment, usually in an automated factory environment.
Each sector of the industry produces different glass products such as:
- flat glass (windows, doors and mirrors)
- containers (jars and bottles)
- glass fibre (which is used in telecommunications and insulation)
- crystal ware (wine glasses and gifts)
- automotive glass (windscreens, sunroofs and security glass).
Some glassmakers operate machines and others have more technical tasks.
The raw materials needed for glassmaking have to be mixed carefully before they go into the furnaces. This produces molten glass, which is then floated on a bath of molten metallic tin to form a flat sheet.
After it has cooled down, the glass is cut to shape using computerised equipment. Finally, the finished product is inspected and tested.
Craft glassmakers are likely to work in smaller workshops. They produce handmade goods like drinking glasses, vases and paperweights.
Craft glassmakers use specific techniques such as glass blowing, bending and cutting. They may specialise in an area like crystal ware or in creating stained glass and coloured glass.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To do well in this job, you'll need:
- Stamina, as much of the mass production work involves standing for long periods and operating in fairly hot conditions.
- Good hand skills.
- To work very carefully and pay close attention to detail.
- Business skills, if you are a self-employed craft glassmaker.
This job might not be suitable for people who have skin conditions, such as eczema, or breathing complaints, such as asthma.
Pay and Opportunities
Pay rates for glassmakers vary depending on whether they are employed in a factory environment or as a craftsperson engaged in hand glassmaking in a workshop or studio.
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Broadly, glassmakers earn in the range of £13,000 - £18,000, rising to £20,000 - £30,000 with experience.
Hours of work
Glassmakers who work in a factory normally work a basic 39-hour week, which may involve shift work and overtime. Craftspeople may work full-time, but there may also be opportunities for part-time work.
Future skills needs
The following skills shortages have been identified within the industry:
- Job related technical skills, including glass cutting, laminating, and computer-aided design.
- Teamworking skills.
- Management and leadership skills.
Where could I work?
Opportunities for glassmakers occur in factories, studios and workshops in towns and cities throughout the UK, particularly Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Scotland.
Opportunities occur for craft glassmakers to become self-employed. They may set up their own workshop, or share premises with other craftspeople.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
To become a glassmaker, you don't always need formal academic qualifications but it's useful to have some GCSEs, or equivalent. Subjects like English, Maths, Design and Technology (Resistant Materials), and Manufacturing would be useful.
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start.
Your training will be on-the-job.
Most craftspeople have had training in art and design. There are several institutions that specialise in design courses that relate to glassmaking.
Alternatively, you can take short adult education courses, or use experience gained in another part of the industry, such as glazing.
Glass Training Ltd also offers short courses for the industry, as well as open learning packages.
Progression could be to supervisory positions. Many glassmakers become self-employed.
Entry requirements vary according to the level of entry and the type of glassmaking. For example, to become a machine operator, you need few qualifications.
To train to become a technician, you need some GCSEs at grade C or above.
To become a craftsperson, design qualifications are usually necessary. Science, maths, technology and design subjects are useful. You'll need to be practical, so employers or course providers may give a test, or ask to see examples of practical work.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C or above, possibly including English and Maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Applicants with skills gained in the manufacturing industry at craft level, have an advantage.
It would be useful to have a background in glazing or arts, crafts and design. Some artistic ability is needed for certain jobs.
Some people enter this career via a Glass Industry Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
- 32% of people in this career work part-time.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Glass Training (GTL)
Address: 4 Bridle Stile, Mosborough, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S20 5BR
Tel: 0114 2488874
Skills for process and manufacturing industries
Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 833844
Careers in manufacturing
Address: Unit 1, 12 O'clock Court, Attercliffe Road, Sheffield S4 7WW
Tel: 0114 2720033
Address: PO Box 5, Driffield, East Yorkshire, YO25 8JD
Tel: 01377 255213
Address: 44a Pentonville Road, Islington, London N1 9BY
Tel: 020 7806 2500
Heart of England Glass
Society of Glass Technology (SGT)
Address: 9 Churchill Way, Chapeltown, Sheffield S35 2PY
Tel: 0114 2634455
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844