Glassmaker Careers

How to become glassmaker

What does a glassmaker do?

Glassmakers produce a wide range of items such as vases, goblets, decorative items, mirrors, jars and bottles, stained glass, windows (including vehicle windows), laboratory apparatus, glass wool, and optical fibres for communication systems.

Depending on the product/s, they may be involved in large-scale production in factories, where machines will do most jobs, or may be craft workers involved in designing and/or making products in a small studio or workshop. Much of the work in decorative glass and scientific glass is done by hand.

The basic ingredients used for windows and cheaper items such as bottles are silica (sand), lime and soda. For crystal glass potassium nitrate, potassium carbonate and red lead are added. Metallic oxides are used to colour the glass.

The ingredients are heated with cullet (scrap glass) to very high temperatures at which they become liquid. The mixture is then shaped by either glassblowing or by kiln forming.

Decorative techniques such as engraving, sand or grit-blasting, stencilling and acid etching may be used, depending on the product.

Glassmakers who work in craft studios or workshops are usually involved in the whole process – designing, making and decorating, and may also sell their products directly from their studio or at craft fairs, or through shops and galleries.

What's the working environment like for glassmakers?

Most glassmakers work a five day 39 hour week. Some companies operate a shift system and overtime is often available.

The work takes place in a factory, studio or workshop. Workers wear titanium goggles and protective clothes.

What does it take to become a glassmaker?

As a glassmaker, you need to:

  • have good hand-eye co-ordination

  • be physically fit

  • have a good sense of colour

  • have patience, accuracy and attention to detail

  • have good communication skills

  • be able to work as part of a team

  • have good business skills if self-employed.


Glassmaker career opportunities

Most openings are with companies producing lead crystal glassware and in universities with glass production units making laboratory equipment. There are opportunities for other types of glassmaking work, especially in the West Midlands, London and parts of Scotland, although increased automation has caused a decline in jobs.

There are some opportunities for glass workers to move into supervisory or management positions. Those with good business skills could become self-employed.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about glassmaking that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Glass Training Limited 

Suite 28
The Quadrant
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0070

Crafts Council
44a Pentonville Road
N1 9BY
Tel: 020 7278 7700

British Society of Scientific Glassblowers

International Glass Centre
Moor Street
Brierley Hill
West Midlands
Tel: 01384 363067

British Glass
9 Churchill Way
S35 2PY
Tel: 0114 290 1850

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St

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