How to become a farrier: Charlie's story

Meet Charlie. He's 24 and from West Sussex. Charlie works with horses as a farrier. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"My parents used to have horses and when the farrier came around I was always fascinated."

What does a farrier do?

A farrier makes horse shoes and puts them on the horses' feet. They also trim the horses' hooves and keep them in good condition.

Did you always know you wanted to be a farrier?

I've known that I wanted to do this job since I was about 10 years old. My parents used to have horses and when the farrier came around I was always fascinated. When I was at school I did work experience with a farrier too, which made me even more certain that this was what I wanted to be.

It's a great lifestyle. You're outdoors all the time, dealing with nice people and nice horses, in some of the most amazing settings you'll ever work in.

What skills do you use in your work?

For this job, you’ve got to be very practical and have good hand-eye coordination. You also need to have good communication skills because you’re dealing with different people every day, like owners and vets.

You also need to have a good business mind to make sure that you make money, and you need to have good maths and English skills to work out things like invoices.

Charlie makes horse shoes and puts them on the horses' feet.

What was your educational career path?

I was very practical at school and enjoyed Technology and PE the most. After my GCSEs I applied for a four-year apprenticeship to become a farrier. I needed at least five C grades or above to get on this course. There aren't many apprenticeships available in this area, so it was quite competitive.

The apprenticeship involved lots of practical work, but also some time in college learning all about horses and how to fix any problems.

Top tips

  • Always try your hardest

  • If you know what you want to do for a job, try to speak to as many people in that business as you can

  • Apprenticeships are hard because you have to balance practical work with learning theory, but it’s worth it.

What to expect if you want to be a farrier

Farriers can be employed or self-employed. Charlie runs his own farrier business so his salary and working hours might vary.

  • Farrier salary: £16,000 to £30,000 per year
  • Farrier working hours: 47 to 49 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a farrier?

  • Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a college course, an apprenticeship or training with the Army. For all these routes you will need to complete an advanced apprenticeship in farriery. This will take 48 months to complete and includes periods of college study and training on the job, with an approved training farrier. You’ll usually need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and a City and Guilds Forging Certificate. You must be registered with the Farriers Registration Council.
    If you do not meet the GCSE requirements, you can take a Farrier access course. This is a one- year, full time course aimed at students who want to move onto an apprenticeship and do not meet the GCSE requirements, or hold a Certificate in Forgework.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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