Cabinet maker, craft woodworker
Furniture makers make and restore items like chairs, tables, beds and display cabinets.
Salary range: £14,000 to £30,000
How to become a furniture maker
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
You could do a college course to get some of the skills needed for this job. Courses include:
- Level 2 Diploma in Furniture Making
- Level 2 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
- Level 3 Diploma in Wood Machining
You may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You could do an intermediate apprenticeship in furniture manufacturing, wood products or carpentry and joinery.
You could also complete a furniture CNC technician, bespoke furniture maker or furniture product developer advanced apprenticeship. If you specialise in coverings, you could take an upholstery advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You could apply for jobs if you have experience or qualifications in furniture or cabinet making, or carpentry. Employers often value skills and experience over qualifications.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join The Furniture Makers’ Company for professional recognition and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about careers and training in furniture making through Creative Choices.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- design skills and knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to work well with your hands
- knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
- knowledge of maths
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- the ability to analyse quality or performance
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
You’ll work mainly with wood but you’ll also use metals, plastics and other materials. Your day-to-day tasks could include:
- working out what to do from technical drawings
- cutting and shaping materials with hand and machine tools
- creating designs for furniture on paper and on computer
- estimating the quantity and type of materials needed
- assembling items
- adding parts like brackets, hinges, handles and locks
- applying finishes like polishes and varnishes
- restoring antiques or repairing damaged furniture
You could work in a workshop or in a factory.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could become a workshop supervisor or quality control inspector. With further training, you could move into furniture design.
In larger firms, you could work in estimating, retail buying, sales or training.
You could also start your own business and specialise in hand-crafted furniture or restoring antique items.