The study of weaponology covers a wide range of weapon styles and eras of history; many weapons experts specialize in certain niches, such as handguns or broadswords, or defined periods of history. The growth of interest in weapons studies has been bolstered by television programs focused on weapons and warfare that interview a wide range of weapons experts. Although it's a long road before gaining that type of exposure, any individual interested in weapons can consider himself a weaponologist given enough time and expertise within the field.
Earn the basic educational requirements necessary to begin your career as a weapons expert. This includes at least a high school diploma and a bachelor's degree. Some secondary educational institutions offer programs in ballistic studies, but taking any weapons courses in school, such as armed stage combat or history of warfare, will provide experience. Related courses of study include physics and chemistry, especially for those interested in becoming firearms experts.
Completing a course of education at a school affiliated with the U.S. armed forces and joining the service after graduation is another educational path towards becoming a weaponologist. Many expert witnesses and television experts on weapons have experience with the Army, Navy or other armed forces branch. These schools include The Citadel, Maine Maritime Academy, Virginia Military Institute and Norwich University.
Earn practical experience working with weapons within your chosen expertise. This can be accomplished by either earning an internship or joining one of the branches of the U.S. armed forces. Internships can be found with ballistics experts, both private experts and police departments; organizations involved with your weapon expertise, such as the National Rifle Association; or research institutions such as museums and colleges.
Earn full-time employment in a job related to your chosen weapons field. If you've joined the armed forces, you may be able to pursue a career as a specialist with a specific weapon. Employment with your local police department is another way to make a full-time living specializing in weapons, especially if working as a ballistics expert or in forensics. Ballistics and weapons experts also work for state justice and police departments as well. For more obscure weaponry, such as rapier or quarterstaff, research organizations and businesses involved with these weapons; you may earn work as an instructor, administrative assistant or even as a weapons maker.
Publish written material that shows the expertise you have gained as a weaponologist. It may take a few years of employment, as well as a experience writing for trade journals and attending seminars presented by weapons organizations, to develop manuscript ideas that may be useful to those interested in your weapon expertise. Different avenues for publishing your manuscript include book publishing houses; both large companies like Random House and smaller presses; trade journals pertaining to weaponry; and blogs. Traffic to online publications can be aided by the use of search engine optimization software to identify common search terms used by individuals interested in your topic.
Attend classes and seminars pertaining to your weaponology expertise and gain additional work that can deepen or expand your weapons knowledge. Weaponologists must work for years before being considered a true expert; weapons experts are found by news outlets, documentaries or any group needing an expert through published material or reputation. You may be able to improve your exposure as a weaponologist by joining an expert witness association or listing your services as a weapons expert with your local chamber of commerce.
- West Virginia University: Extended Learning - Integrated Ballistic Identification System
- Grand Valley State University: School of Criminal Justice - New Internship Opportunities
- CareerRequirement.com: Ballistic Expert Career Requirements
- Quick Online Tips; 5 Ways to Use Blogs, Social Media to Become a Recognized Expert; Phil & Jessica Van Treuren; March 2010
- BMJ Careers; Being an Expert Witness; Helen Jacques; May 2011
- Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States: Directory of 4-Year Schools