Shoe repairer

A shoe repairer


Shoe repairers repair and renew deteriorated footwear and other items like belts or bags. They use hand tools and specialised machinery to add soles and heels, replace worn-out buckles and clean and polish shoes.

Shoe repairers typically do the following:

  • greet customers and price up work to be done
  • replace worn out soles and heels
  • carry out more complicated repairs, like renew stitching and welts
  • build up soles and heels
  • clean, polish, dye or stain shoes
  • replace buckles, laces, zips or straps
  • maintain equipment, sharpen cutting tools and service machinery
  • sell items and take cash and card payments

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to shoe repairer:

shoe polisher
boot maker
shoe maker
boot repairer

Working conditions

Working conditions for shoe repairers vary. Most large shops are clean and well lighted. Small shops may be noisy, crowded, or poorly ventilated. The strong odor of leather and dyes may bother some workers. Shoe repair employees generally work forty hours a week. Self-employed repairers often work as many as sixty hours a week. Shops tend to be busiest in the spring and fall, but there are not usually any seasonal layoffs.

Shoe repairers spend most of the working day on their feet. Some mechanical ability and manual dexterity is required. Those who deal with customers should be patient and courteous.

Minimum qualifications

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.

Shoe repairers usually get their training on the job. It takes from six months to two years to become fully qualified. They can also learn the shoe repair trade in a vocational or trade school. Most school programs take from six months to two years to complete. Students receive practical training in the use of the tools, machines, and materials used in the repairing and rebuilding of shoes. After completing such a program, workers usually need an additional year or so of experience before they are fully qualified as shoe repairers.

Graduates of vocational schools may be hired more quickly than those who have no training or experience.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Shoe repairer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Shoe repairer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to shoe repairer.

consumer electronics repair technician
jewellery repairer
bicycle mechanic
household appliances repair technician
office equipment repair technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of shoe repairer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of shoe repairer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

body artist
wedding planner
footwear production technician
footwear assembly supervisor
life coach

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of shoe repairer.

  • Footwear equipments: Functionality of the wide range of equipments and the basic rules of regular maintenance.
  • Footwear machinery: The functionality of the wide range of machines, and the basic rules of regular maintenance.
  • Manual cutting processes for leather: Cutting rules, variance of the leather properties on its surface and elongation directions of the footwear pieces.
  • Footwear quality: Quality specifications of materials, processes and final products, the most common defects in footwear, quick tests procedures, laboratory tests procedures and standards, adequate equipment for quality checks. Quality assurance of footwear production processes and fundamental concepts on quality including footwear quality framework and standards.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of shoe repairer.

  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Use tools for shoe repair: Utilise hand and power tools, such as awls, hammers, automatic sole stitchers, heel-nailing machines and sewing machines, for the repair and maintenance of footwear, belts and bags.
  • Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
  • Apply assembling techniques for cemented footwear construction: Be able to pull the uppers over the last and fix the lasting allowance on insole, manually or by special machines for forepart lasting, waist lasting, and seat lasting. Apart from the main group of lasting operations, the responsibilities of those assembling footwear cemented types may include the following: bottom cementing and sole cementing, heat setting, sole attaching and pressing, chilling, brushing and polishing, last slipping (before or after finishing operations) and heel attaching etc.
  • Provide customer information related to repairs: Inform customers about necessary repairs or replacements, discuss products, services and costs, include accurate technical information.
  • Repair shoes: Reshape shoes, restitch worn seams, attach new heels or soles. Polish and clean shoes afterwards.
  • Apply stitching techniques: Apply footwear and leather goods stitching techniques using the appropriate machines, needles, threads and other tools in order to obtain the required model and to comply with the sewing technical specifications.
  • Perform manual cutting for footwear uppers: Check and complete cutting orders, select leather surfaces and classify cut pieces. Identify faults and defects on the leather surface. Recognise colours, shades and type of finishes. Use the following tools: knife, pattern templates, cutting board and marking needle.
  • Apply footwear finishing techniques: Apply various chemical and mechanical finishing procedures to footwear by performing manual or machine operations, with or without chemicals, such as heel and sole roughing, dying, bottom polishing, cold or hot wax burnishing, cleaning, removing tacks, inserting socks, hot air treeing for removing wrinkles, and cream, spray or antique dressing. Work both manually and use the equipment and machines, and adjust working parameters.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of shoe repairer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Manage schedule of tasks: Maintain an overview of all the incoming tasks in order to prioritise the tasks, plan their execution, and integrate new tasks as they present themselves.
  • Engrave patterns: Engrave and print designs and patterns onto a variety of surfaces.
  • Repair clocks: Identify problems on clocks or watches, check for deterioration, disassemble parts, regulate, adjust, and replace deficient components.
  • Maintain records of maintenance interventions: Keep written records of all repairs and maintenance interventions undertaken, including information on the parts and materials used, etc.
  • Order supplies: Command products from relevant suppliers to get convenient and profitable products to purchase.
  • Manage a small-to-medium business: Manage the organisational, financial and day-to-day operation of a small-to-medium enterprise.
  • Maintain relationship with suppliers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with suppliers and service providers in order to establish a positive, profitable and enduring collaboration, co-operation and contract negotiation.
  • Shine shoes: Work with shoe polish to shine the customer’s shoes using tools such as cloth and brushes.
  • Use repair manuals: Apply the information, such as periodic maintenance charts, step by step repair instructions, troubleshooting information and overhaul procedures to perform routine maintenance and repairs.
  • Cut keys: Use machines or tools to cut profiles of keys.
  • Tailor orthopaedic footwear: Make or adapt shoes tailored to the customer’s feet, for customers with physical disabilities or anomalies. Reshape shoes, adapt heels or use orthopedic soles to meet the customers needs.
  • Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
  • Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
  • Sell footwear and leather goods: Sell footwear items and leather products by highlighting their features.
  • Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Keep stock records: Keep written records of the amount of stock in storage, incoming and outgoing products required for the proper operation of services, repairs and maintenance tasks.

ISCO group and title

7536 – Shoemakers and related workers

  1. Shoe repairer – ESCO
  2. Shoe repairer | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Shoe Repairer Job Description –
  4. Featured image: By Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on October 21, 2022

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