Arts & crafts

Leather craftworker

Leather craftworkers make clothes, shoes and accessories from leather, using traditional methods.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £22,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: 9am to 5pm;

7%
Future employment

There will be 7% fewer Leather craftworker jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • using a pattern to measure and cut pieces of leather
  • designing clothing, coverings or accessories
  • preparing leather, using chemicals
  • stitching pieces of leather by hand or machine
  • adding handles, straps and buckles
  • staining, waxing and polishing products

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a workshop, in a factory or from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies
College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills you need in this job. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Apparel, Footwear, Leather or Textile Production
  • Level 3 Diploma in Apparel, Footwear, Leather or Textile Production
  • Level 3 Diploma in Fashion and Design

You could also specialise with a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Saddlery, if you want to work with suppliers to the horse riding industry.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information
Apprenticeship

You can do a leather craftsperson intermediate apprenticeship, or specialise in saddlework by completing a bespoke saddler advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

You can apply directly to be taken on as a trainee craftworker. Employers may be more interested in your practical ability than formal qualifications, although it'll help if you have GCSEs in subjects like English, art and design, maths, and design and technology.

Other routes

If you want to work in saddlery and harness making, you can do specialist training through The Society of Master Saddlers.

You can also do specialist leather courses through the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies and the BLC Leather Technology Centre.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about working in the leather industry from The Leathersellers' Company.

You can get more information on working in craft and creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

You could become a supervisor or specialise in an area like leather pattern design, sales or marketing.

You could also set up your own business or move into the leather manufacturing and finishing industry.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of maths
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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