How Do I Become a Ceramicist?

D. Nelson

Ceramicists are typically artists and craftspeople who use clay to create pottery and sculptures. To become a ceramicist, you will need to get some formal training, either in an art school or in the art department of an accredited college. Once you develop your skills, you should consider which kind of career you would like in the world of ceramics. A person who wants to become a ceramicist might have an independent practice or he or she might work for a design company or for another kind of artistic or craft based service. In some cases, however, ceramicists work in industrial settings where they concentrate on issues related to chemistry and physics.

Ceramicists use clay to create pottery.
Ceramicists use clay to create pottery.

Factors such as salary and job security vary greatly among ceramicists. Some people might design and create ceramics only on their spare time, though they may sell their goods to collectors and art shops. Others might find that their ceramic creations are quite successful and that they are able to make a good amount of money from them. People who complete college programs might teach ceramics, and individuals who earn graduate degrees often teach in art programs.

Ceramicist may paint finished pottery in a glaze to give the product a glossy finish.
Ceramicist may paint finished pottery in a glaze to give the product a glossy finish.

A person who wants to become a ceramicist should know which kind of career path he or she would like to follow by the time he or she has received some training. People who are interested in gaining a stronger understanding of the technical aspects of ceramics or who are interested in learning about aesthetics and art history might benefit from enrolling in art programs. To qualify, students normally must have minimum grade point averages, references from teachers, and satisfactory scores on proficiency exams. It also is common for applicants to have to provide portfolios of their work. To become an industrial ceramicist, you should earn a degree in a field such as physics or engineering.

Some people might feel that four-year programs are not right for them. If you are in this situation and you would like to become a ceramicist, it might be a good idea to find an established ceramicist who can hire you as an assistant. It is usually best if the mentor works in a field of ceramics in which you are interested. A person who would like to become a ceramicist who makes and sells his or her own pots, for example, might work under the supervision of a ceramicist who makes kitchen wares.

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