A shoemaker


Shoemakers use hand or machine operations for traditional manufacturing of a various range of footwear. They also repair all types of footwear in a repair shop.

A shoemaker typically does the following:

  • cuts and prepares canvas, leather to design specifications, patterns and drawings
  • joins parts of leather articles using rivets, hand sewing, sewing machines, tools and adhesive
  • restores and repairs leather articles
  • designs patterns and prototypes of boots and shoes
  • makes and grades patterns using manual and computerised methods
  • clicks synthetics, corrected grains, leather linings and leather outers by hand and machine
  • alters and repairs footwear.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to shoemaker:

traditional shoe manufacturer
shoe repairer
hand craft shoe maker
custom shoemaker

Minimum qualifications

Formal educational requirements to become a shoemaker are minimal, although postsecondary classes in business can be helpful. Few vocational schools offer training programs in the niche art of shoemaking. Most often, shoemakers learn the craft through an apprenticeship under the tutelage of an experience shoemaker artisan.

Basic skills can be acquired in a few hours, but highly skilled shoemakers spend years mastering their craft. Shoemaking classes can be found for novices and experienced artisans.

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.

Shoemaker is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Shoemaker career path

Similar occupations

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

orthopaedic footwear technician
footwear stitching machine operator
footwear factory warehouse operator
footwear finishing and packing operator
footwear hand sewer

Long term prospects

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

footwear assembly supervisor
footwear quality control laboratory technician
footwear production technician
footwear quality technician
footwear production supervisor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

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

  • Pattern grading: Know about cutting patterns accurately and grading the patterns to obtain the size series in case of mass production. Know how to mark notches, holes, seam allowances, and other technical specifications. Make adjustments and obtain the final patterns for cutting in order to compensate any identified problems during sampling.
  • Footwear equipments: Functionality of the wide range of equipments and the basic rules of regular maintenance.
  • Footwear materials: The characteristics, components, advantages and limitations of a wide range of materials used in footwear production: leather, leather substitutes (synthetics or artificial materials), textile, plastic, rubber etc.
  • 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 manufacturing technology: Footwear processes technology and machinery involved. The footwear manufacturing starts in the cutting/clicking room , cutting the uppers and bottom components. The upper components are joined together in the closing room by following a precise order of specific operations: skiving, folding, sewing etc. The closed upper, the insole and other bottom components are brought together in the assembling room, where the main operations are lasting and soling. The process ends with finishing operations in the finishing and packing room.
  • 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.
  • Footwear components: Footwear components both for uppers (vamps, quarters, linings, stiffeners, toe puffs etc.) and bottoms (soles, heels, insoles etc.). Ecological concerns and the importance of recycling. Selection of suitable materials and components based on their influence on the footwear style and characteristics, properties and manufacturability. Procedures and methods in chemical and mechanical processing of leather and non-leather materials.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of shoemaker.

  • Create patterns for footwear: Produce the mean form or shell, a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional shape of the last. Create scaled patterns for uppers and bottom components by manual methods from the designs.
  • Apply basic rules of maintenance to leather goods and footwear machinery: Apply basic rules of maintenance and cleanliness on footwear and leather goods production equipment and machines that you operate.
  • Apply footwear bottoms pre-assembling techniques: Split, scour surfaces, reduce sole edges, rough, brush, apply primings, halogenate the soles, degrease etc. Use both manual dexterity and machinery. When using machines, adjust their working parameters.
  • 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.
  • Apply footwear uppers pre-assembling techniques: Prepare lasts and uppers, attach insole, insert stiffener and toe puffs, mould the upper on back part, and condition the uppers before lasting. Perform the above-mentioned operations both manually or by using machines. In case of using machines, adjust working parameters.
  • 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 pre-stitching techniques: Apply pre-stitching techniques to footwear and leather goods in order to reduce thickness, to reinforce, to mark the pieces, to decorate or to reinforce their edges or surfaces. Be able to operate various machinery for splitting, skiving, folding, stitch marking, stamping, press punching, perforating, embossing, gluing, uppers pre-forming, crimping etc. Be able to adjust the working parameters of the machinery.
  • 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 knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of shoemaker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Automatic cutting systems for footwear and leather goods: The use and description of automatic systems technologies used in footwear and leather goods industry such as laser cutting, knife cutting, punch cutting, mill cutting, ultra-sound cutting, water jet cutting and the cutting machinery such as swing beam cutting presses, traveling head die cutting presses or strap cutting machines.

Optional skills and competences

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

  • Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
  • Practice innovative thinking in the footwear and leather goods industries: Innovate and create in the footwear and leather goods sector. Evaluate new ideas and concepts to turn them into marketable products. Use entrepreneurial thinking in all stages of the product and process development to identify new business opportunities for the targeted markets.
  • Apply machine cutting techniques for footwear and leather goods: Adjust and establish the machine technical operating parameters for cutting footwear and leather goods. Check and select the cutting dies, classification of the cut pieces against cutting restrictions, specifications and quality requirements. Check and complete the cutting orders. Perform simple procedures for maintenance of machines.
  • Reduce environmental impact of footwear manufacturing: Assess the environmental impact of footwear manufacture and minimise environmental risks. Reduce environmentally harmful work practices in different stages of the footwear manufacturing.
  • Use communication techniques: Apply techniques of communication which allow interlocutors to better understand each other and communicate accurately in the transmission of messages.

ISCO group and title

7536 – Shoemakers and related workers

  1. Shoemaker – ESCO
  2. Shoemaker | Your Career
  3. What skills are required to be a shoemaker – Chron
  4. Featured image: By Gkbediako – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on October 21, 2022

What do you want to do with this job?

You will be brought to the forum page

Requires a business account

Requires a business account

Thinking about your next career move?

Answer a few questions about your jobs and education, and we’ll give you suggestions about your best possible career move. It’s completely free!