How To Become a Horologist in 4 Steps (With Skills List)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 9, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Horology is the study of time and timekeeping, and this field often includes working with watches and clocks. Pursuing a career in this industry may provide you with the opportunity to combine technical abilities with an interest in aesthetics to restore or create timepieces of all kinds. Understanding how to begin a career in this field may help ensure you're successful. In this article, we define what a horologist is, outline how to become a horologist, list important skills for a horologist to develop and discuss the salary, job outlook and work environment for horologists.

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What is a horologist?

A horologist is a timekeeping specialist focused on the artistic and scientific aspects of it. They design, build and repair watches, and it's important they understand all components of watches. Horologists may also develop concepts for watches to create artistic, practical and stylish timepieces, then build the watches.

How to become a horologist in 4 steps

Here are four steps to follow for how to become a horologist:

1. Complete training

While earning a degree isn't a requirement for becoming a horologist, completing formal training may be beneficial. Consider attending watchmaking school, which typically takes one to one-and-a-half years to complete. This may allow you to participate in classes specifically related to this trade and gain experience with crafting and repairing watches. Another option may be to complete certified watchmaking courses offered by other institutions.

2. Consider an apprenticeship

Another option may be to complete an apprenticeship. This involves completing one-on-one training with an experienced horologist. While this may be a less formal option than attending watchmaking school, it may provide you with more personalized knowledge. It could also be an effective way for you to establish connections to help you find a job as a horologist.

Related: How To Find an Apprenticeship Program

3. Practice your skills

Look for opportunities to practice your horology skills. Invest in the required tools, and consider looking for watches or clocks for you to try to repair. Think about offering your services to people you know or try finding discarded pieces at secondhand shops.

4. Pursue a certification

Earning a certification may be an effective way to demonstrate your knowledge. This may be helpful when you're applying for jobs and separate you from other applicants, especially with larger brands, because it shows you understand the craft. It may also be helpful if you begin your own business because it indicates to customers that they can trust your skills and expertise.

The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI) offers the standard certification for horologists in North America. Earning this certification requires completing three core components and at least two elective components. The core components include:

  • Passing a written exam about theoretical subjects

  • Performing a complete service on an automatic chronograph watch

  • Performing a complete service on an automatic movement watch

The elective components include:

  • Performing a complete service on a quartz watch

  • Refinishing a watch case and bracelet

  • Restaffing a manual wind watch

  • Troubleshooting and repairing a watch case before making it water-resistant

  • Using a lathe, precision measuring and watchmaking hand tools to manufacture a tool or part

The examination process requires you to use industry-standard equipment, which the AWCI may require you to bring with you. AWCI representatives assess your work based on the quality of your performance and your attention to detail. While not a requirement, the AWCI recommends completing their training courses and reviewing their standards and practices to help prepare for the exam process.

Related: How To Decide Whether Professional Certifications Are Worth It for Your Career

Horologist skills

Becoming a horologist requires developing a particular skill set of soft and hard skills. Soft skills refer to your natural skills and personal characteristics that you may demonstrate through your work ethic and interactions with others. Conversely, hard skills, or technical skills, are the specific skills required to complete the work of a horologist.

Some important skills for a horologist to have include:

Patience

Repairing watches may be tedious. It's imperative for horologists to be patient as they complete their work. This helps ensure they create final products, and it may help create a sense of satisfaction with their career.

Technical abilities

Horologists use a variety of tools to complete their work. It's important they understand the purpose of each of these tools and how to operate them properly. It's also essential for them to be familiar with each component of watches and how to create or repair them.

Dedication

Working in horology is a fairly niche career. This often requires a passion for the work. It's also important for horologists to continue to learn more about watches and clocks to help them maintain and improve their skills.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail and precision are essential for horologists. Creating and repairing watches often involves moving tiny pieces. It's important they're able to work meticulously to work with all components properly.

Physical abilities

Working as a horologist requires certain physical attributes. It's important for them to have excellent vision to see the work they're completing. It's also essential for them to have good manual dexterity in order to operate the various tools required for the work.

Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate a situation and identify probable solutions. It's beneficial for horologists to have an analytical mind to help them best repair watches. This may help them determine what's wrong with the piece and how to fix it.

Read more: Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Customer service

Some horologists work in small shops or own their own businesses. This may require them to interact with customers directly. It's important they're able to interact with customers positively and understand their needs.

Horologist salary

There isn't exact salary information for horologists available. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for watch and clock repairers is $48,560. Exact salaries may vary based on factors like geographic location, experience and specific employer.

Related: 15 Odd Jobs That Pay Well

Horologist job outlook

There isn't career outlook information for horologists specifically available. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are approximately 2,430 professionals working as watch and clock repairers in the United States. While there isn't exact job growth information available, this is a fairly small profession. There may be some job opportunities each year as people retire or otherwise leave the profession.

Horologist work environment

Horologists typically work indoors and sit for most of their work. They may hunch over the projects they work on, which may be uncomfortable or physically fatiguing. This work also requires operating a range of special tools and techniques.

Horologists may enjoy flexibility in their careers. For example, they may choose to open their own business or work from home. Another option may be to work for a retail jewelry store or a specialty watch service. Some horologists also work for major brands or watch manufacturers.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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