Professional Jeweler Archive: Watchmaking Salaries Rise

May 2001


Watchmaking Salaries Rise

New data to assist education efforts

Recent initiatives by the Coalition for Watchmaker Education, a group of industry leaders organized by the American Watch Association (Professional Jeweler, February 2000, p. 105), may attract more students to U.S. watchmaking schools.

CWE is working to update negative government descriptions of the watchmaking profession. In recent years, high demand has pushed up watchmaker salaries nationwide. However, federal guides to careers don’t yet reflect this trend and tend to discourage applicants from looking further into the profession.

CWE surveyed members of Jewelers of America, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute and AWA. It received more than 700 responses, reporting that a typical U.S. watchmaker – including those who work in after-sales service centers – earned $40,000-$50,000 last year. The range of salaries begins at $30,000 and tops out at $125,000.

Of JA members and AWI members only, about 37% of the watchmakers earned $30,000-$40,000; nearly half earned $40,000-$60,000. The figures contrast with the lower salary expectations listed in career guides published by the U.S. Department of Labor. AWA Executive Director Toby Collado plans to meet with the Department of Labor this spring to discuss updating its information.

WOSTEP Degrees

At the request of CWE, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training & Educational Program, a Swiss watchmaking school, has tentatively agreed to reconfigure its two-year, 3,000-hour training program into two skill levels.

This change is needed in the U.S., where most students require options to attract them to schools where they will begin or continue their education, says Peter Laetsch, U.S. director of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

The change may encourage more U.S. schools to offer the highly regarded program, adds Jim Lubic, executive director of AWI. Today, three U.S. schools offer the full WOSTEP certification, but several, including AWI, have found it difficult to attract students because of the program’s costs and full-time requirements. Details of the new U.S.-only program are under review.

• American Watch Association, Washington, DC; (703) 759-3377.

– by Michael Thompson

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications