Footwear manufacturing operative
Footwear manufacturing operatives make shoes, boots and sports footwear for all ages.
1. Entry requirementsYou’ll need good practical skills, and you may need to pass a practical test when interviewed. You’ll also need good eyesight and colour-normal vision.
You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.
You could also take a college course in footwear or fashion to learn the skills you’ll need in this job.
Previous experience in shoe repairs, textiles or leatherwork may also be helpful.
2. Skills required
- the ability to work quickly and accurately
- the ability to follow design patterns and instructions
- practical skills for using hand tools, technical equipment and machinery
3. What you'll do
You’ll usually work to a pattern supplied by the footwear design team. Your day-to-day duties may include:
- cutting (‘clicking’) – trimming and shaping leather or fabric pieces for the 'upper' section
- stitching (‘closing’) – sewing together the individual sections to complete the upper
- lasting – moulding the uppers into their final shape on a wooden or metal pattern called a 'last'
- making – attaching the soles with adhesive or stitching
- finishing – fitting and trimming heels to shape, and staining the soles, heels and edges before waxing and buffing
- ‘shoe room’ – working on the final stage of production, polishing the shoe for the desired colour and effect
Starter: £13,500 to £15,000
Experienced: £16,000 to £22,000
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week. You’ll work in a factory, with most of your time spent at a workbench operating production machinery.
You may need to use safety clothing and equipment, like ear protectors, a face mask, gloves and safety spectacles.
6. Career path and progressionWith experience, you could move into supervisory management, engineering maintenance or quality control. With further training, you could take up a career in footwear design or as a footwear technologist.
You could specialise in custom-made footwear, like luxury bespoke shoes, orthopaedic footwear, or specialist historical and theatrical costume footwear.
Last updated: 07 December 2016