I have not read all the posts so here is my advice.
1. Go to work in a good gunsmithing shop for a while. Even if the pay is less than expected, don't just do assembly work. You want to work in a full service shop.
Learn all you can. If the smith has a good library, especially old repair manuels from the manufacturers, copy everthing that you can.
Build a big library. You don't have to know how to do everything, just where to find the info.
2. Save your money to buy tools. Only buy the basics, then get what you need on a need to have basis. Don't spend all your money on a tool you may never use or use once. Make any tools that you can. You will gain machining experience and many times save money.
I graduated top of my class from a good gunsmithing school, went to work for a very good smith and finally opened my own shop.
It was open part time as I needed a full time job to pay the bills and buy tooling.
When I first opened, I has a small lathe, drill press, grinder, sander and a few other power tools and my hand tools, put pretty good knowledge for a newer smith (it takes years to get really good).
More than a few customers walked out because they expected to see a full size lathe and mill. Either have a back room the customers cannot see into or buy the equipment. There are great deals on good used American made lathes and mills out there. Take a good machinest with you who knows equipment well.
You will save thousands of $$$. You don't need new.
3. Do general gunsmithing work for the community, don't be afraid to turn down jobs that are loosers. If you don't do something yourself such as bluing, take the job, send it out and tack a few bucks on. It will bring in business that you can do. If the job is something that you can't do, send it out or find out how to do it correctly. Don't ruin someone's firearm. One ****** customer can really hurt your business, espeially when new.
4. Do it part time until you have enough business to go full time if ever.
Last, find a nitch or specialty, that is where the money is. Build a good web site and get business from the net. I started www.savagegunsmithing.com
There were not a lot of smiths working on Savage rifles. I became the gunsmithing moderator on the Savageshooters web site.
I built up a good business. You will starve on just doing gunsmithing for your community unless it is a big community with very few or no shops.
When I retired, I sold my web business to a very good gunsmith. He has made some good money from the site and it has kept food on his table during the slow times. He always has a couple walls of Savage rifles ready to be worked on. I'd try something other than the Savages. He and one other smith pretty much have the market cornered and he is a Master Smith with a very good reputation.
5. It is a business, not a hobby, run it like a business. Get some business training if you need it and give great customer service. Even if it means loosing a few $$. It many times comes back to you many time over.
Look professional and act that way. Don't B.S. If you don't know the answer, don't be afraid to say so. Get the info and get back to the customer.
I now took the time to read some of the posts.From what I gather, you are upset brcause you are not making the money you think that you deserve and the bennies.
First of all, I graduated first in my class, and what I found out when I got out was that you could have written a huge book on what I didn't know.
Gunsmithing school only gives you the tools to go out and learn to be a gunsmith. There is so much you never get to see or do in school, not enough time to make you a good machinest etc.
It takes years to become a good smith.
And yes, I have seen some excellent smiths who never went to gunsmithing school.
My gunsmithing friend I mentioned never went to gunsmithing school. He went to school first as a machinest, then helicopter mechanic, which he was for some years. He became an expert welder also. In 1985 he started gunsmithing. He is now one of the few Master Riflesmiths out there.
I considered myself to be a darn good smith when I retired, but not a master.
This guy knows more about machining and welding then 10 other gunsmiths do. He is also very smart. Put his life experiences togather before becoming a smith and that is what has helped him become the smith he is today.
You my friend are like someone who just graduated from the 8th grade and thinks he know everthing and has the world by the stones. Take your time, work for what you are worth to a good shop, learn all you can, a good smith learnes something new every day, no matter how long he has been a smith.
Once you think you have enough experience, then you can go out on your own and find out again just how much you don't know.
Life experience matters. The older guys (50 and over) in gunsmithing school were the one's who did the best by far. There were a few young guys that had a chance, but some of them could have broken a ball bearing with a rubber mallet when the graduated.
Be realistic, the people who have answerd you for the most part have been there and done that. I know I have.
Good luck, John K