Last Updated on May 2, 2023 by Barry Gray
After a few years of enjoying a craft-type hobby, I have found myself imagining what it would be like to turn that creative outlet into a full-time job. After spending a weekend in the workshop making a wooden coffee table and loving every minute of it, I want to know if woodworking would be a good career.
Commercial woodworkers may earn less than someone who has their own bespoke carpentry business, but there is more risk in running your own business. Woodwork is a creative and challenging career, with success depending on the skill level, the demand for the goods made, and the profit earned.
The woodworking industry has its pros and cons, and as much research as possible should be conducted before leaping into the sawdust. Let’s go over some factors that could influence your decision to join the world of woodworking.
Woodworking As A Career
Whether you are stepping out of high school and looking for a career path or considering converting a hobby to a profession, the same questions generally get asked:
- What does woodwork entail?
- What are the different roles within woodwork?
- Do I need a woodwork qualification?
- Can I make enough money as a woodworker?
- Where can woodworkers find jobs?
So if you have a wood fire burning in your soul, here are the general answers to the above questions.
What Does Woodwork Entail?
To be a brilliant woodworker, you will need to pay attention to fine detail, understand architectural design, and enjoy working with your hands. A strong body and a sharp mind are vital to your success as a carpenter.
Some tasks you could expect as a woodworker:
- Interpreting architectural schematics, blueprints, and technical drawings.
- Repair old or damaged furniture.
- Moving heavy wood around the shop and into milling machines.
- Studying industry standards and ensuring products meet the requirements.
- Manufacture items using hand tools.
- Operate machinery through computer software to design, cut, and trim timber items.
- Monitor vibrations in machinery to prevent production errors.
- Preparing machines for woodwork manufacturing projects.
- Selecting the correct tools for a job or project.
Working with heavy machinery and dangerous tools means you need to have your wits about you at all times in a woodwork factory.
What Are The Different Roles Within Woodwork?
The woodwork industry has multiple sub-sectors that could be more appealing if you want to specialize in a particular line. Most manufacturing plants have different teams that focus on isolated tasks within the production line to keep items moving quicker and with more deliberate attention to each facet of construction.
Sub-Sectors within the woodworking industry include:
- Furniture Sander – Furniture sanders work with sandpaper and sanding machines to prepare the wood for finishing.
- Furniture Finisher – Furniture finishers stain, seal and apply a top coat to furniture items.
- Carpenter – Carpenters handle various wood-related tasks like laying floorboards and installing roofing, repairing wooden items, and building other wooden things for construction companies.
- Machine Operators – typically work as operators, setters, and tenders for manufacturing facilities. They specialize in the operation of very specific woodwork machinery.
- Cabinet Makers – design custom-made wooden cabinets and create the cabinetry required by architects and homeowners alike.
Some woodworkers progress into Construction management as they have the sound technical knowledge and have generally spent most of their careers working on construction sites.
Do I Need A Woodwork Qualification?
A career like construction management may require a bachelor’s degree, while carpentry and furniture sanding only require a high school diploma. To increase your chances of a promising vocation in woodworking, you can add specialized training in math, architecture, or computer technology, as some roles require expertise in some of these areas.
Many employers provide on-site training and prefer to have young interns learn from the craft and machinery masters producing their specific products. This transfer of knowledge is vital in the preservation of the craft. Consider getting certifications through the Architectural Woodwork Institute and the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America to impress hiring managers and further develop your skills.
Can I Make Enough Money As A Woodworker?
The income you earn will depend on the type of woodwork you do. Your qualifications, experience, and position within the company will also impact your salary. The average annual base salary for a woodworker in 2022 is around $50 000.
Where Can Woodworkers Find Jobs?
Woodwork as a profession typically involves work for independent contractors, construction companies, or wood product manufacturing for wholesalers. Woodworkers can work for companies that make custom furniture designs or build a new home or office alongside architects and engineers.
Top Companies for Woodworkers in the United States of America:
- United Labor Group
- United States Department of Defence
- U.S. Department of the Navy
- U.S. Army
- USA Millwork
Woodworking As A Hobby
Woodwork is a great hobby that keeps your mind and body fit. It is very satisfying to stand back and admire a piece you have made yourself. Many crafters start with using only the essential hand tools and later progress to buying larger, more expensive machines that make your hobby creations look more professional.
Hobby-woodworkers often sell their handmade goods to cover the costs of making the items, and once some profit is made, the idea of turning a hobby into a career usually starts to form. Selling your goods as a side-hustle is an excellent way to determine if there is demand for your items, what your costs are, and ultimately whether your business will take off or not.
The biggest mistake we craters make when selling our handmade items is we don’t always believe they are worth the price tags we see on commercial goods, but this needs to change! Make sure you do the math correctly, accounting for your materials and your time, and then add a bit extra to the price to cover all the blood, concentration, and love that goes into a handmade piece.
The great benefit of having a physically demanding day job is that you can generally skip a few gym sessions because you get a good workout. But every aspect of a career should be taken into account before deciding if it is a good fit for you. Woodworking can generate income and offer growth options into specialist fields and business ownership.