Woodworking Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-2715 min read

Woodworking careers entail making objects from wood and the resulting management responsibilities that come from it.

Woodworkers produce several products, such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, laminates, etc. They combine and integrate different materials into wood.

The modern woodworking trade is highly technical. Skilled operators use automated machinery to ensure accuracy in all phases of their work.

Regardless of your experience and knowledge, knowing about the careers you can pursue in woodworking increases your odds of making the right choice.

Read on to find everything you need in a woodworking career.

Why Choose Woodworking?

Woodworking builds purpose and creates and develops items from wood, a cause of pride for the craftsman.

The items produced have an economic value that creates wealth. It is a skill that is untouched by world events.

The craft of woodworking develops motor skills, improves perseverance, and grows creativity.

Opting into this career has a lot to offer to individuals.

How to Start your Woodworking Journey

Starting a career in Woodworking requires at least a bachelor's degree.

Graduates who obtain a degree in woodworking can prepare for various careers, depending on their area of specialization.

Below is a list of different educational requirements

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

With your high school diploma, you can take associate's degree programs in woodworking which is a 2-year degree plans that teach various concepts, techniques, and applications used in woodwork.

Graduates are prepared for entry-level jobs as carpenters, finish carpenters, woodworkers, etc.

Bachelor's Degree

Graduates are furnished with the skills in wood making, furniture, and wood technologies needed in modern production environments.

Students acquire knowledge of current manufacturing technologies and can establish a clear understanding of business and work practices.

With a bachelor's degree, you can get woodworking jobs as a sawmill manager, corrugator supervisor, woodworking construction manager, etc.

Master's Degree

Master programs in woodworking focus on professional training in wood processing, woodworking, and utilization.

Attaining a high-level theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the technical, environmental, and financial facets of wood utilization, processing, and product development is essential in this program.

With a master's degree, you can work as a wood factory manager, paper mill manager, model builder, etc.

Doctorate in Woodworking

Those who wish to pursue careers in academia or industry researching wood and wood products as a renewable material, including consumer product development and environmental considerations, can consider earning a doctorate in Wood Science.

Doctorate programs allow a range of learning experiences that help students develop expertise in woodworking.

Earning a doctorate requires different academic experiences. And students are exposed to the core and elective courses.

Dual doctorate programs in woodworking, materials science, and forestry lead to additional exposure to relevant topics.

Employment Prospects

Woodworking graduates qualify for various high-demand roles with high job satisfaction ratings.

With your associate's or bachelor's degree, you can work in an entry position with room for improvement.

On average, demand for employment in woodworking occupations enjoys 27,200 openings yearly.

Woodworking Career Forecast

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that woodworking occupations will grow by 3% from 2021 to 2031.

Most woodworking roles pay over $35,000, with several openings yearly.

Lucrative Woodworking Career Paths

Woodworking has various career paths and job prospects in different sectors.

Here are some of the woodworking careers.


Woodworkers manufacture several products, such as cupboards and furniture, made out of wood and synthetic wood materials.

They build these products directly for self-employed clients or as part of a larger manufacturing team.

Woodworkers use Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) to attain accuracy in work.

Some woodworkers with high school diplomas are trained on the job where they learn from experienced workers.

Average Salary

Woodworkers earn a median annual salary of $36,710.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Understand detailed architectural drawings, blueprints and shop drawings
  • Set up machines such as milling machines for woodwork manufacturing
  • Lift wood pieces onto machines
  • Select the sanding tools for tasks
  • Build ornate furniture
  • Watch for excessive vibration in machinery
  • Adjust proper cutting for completing a job
  • Ensure that products are industry standards and project specifications
  • Fit specialty products for electrical components and install hardware
  • Maintain machines

Industries Employing Woodworkers

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Self-employed workers
  • Specialty trade contractors

Woodworking Machine Operator

Woodworking machine operators set up and operate woodworking machines to manufacture or repair wooden parts for furniture, fixtures, or other wood products.

Average Salary

Woodworking machine operators earn a median annual salary of $32,674.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Set up and operate computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines
  • Operate gluing machines
  • Operate milling and sanding machines
  • Read and interpret specifications
  • Understand computer numerical control machines
  • Cut and shape wooden parts
  • Use drill presses to smooth wood
  • Adjust machines and verify dimensions
  • Clean and lubricate equipment

Industries Employing Woodworking Machine Operators

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Government
  • Specialty trade contractors

Furniture Installer

Furniture installers deliver and assemble furniture installed in a residential or office building.

Average Salary

Furniture installers earn a median annual salary of $34,539.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Load and unload the truck
  • Install furniture
  • Mount cabinets and bookshelves
  • Assemble furniture

Industries Employing Furniture Installers

  • Furniture manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Furniture Showroom

Wood Factory Manager

Wood factory managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a wood factory.

They ensure that their employees are working efficiently and are also involved in developing new products and processes.

Average Salary

Wood factory managers earn a median annual salary of $84,597.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement innovative strategies to streamline factory operations.
  • Screen and train new factory workers.
  • Ensures factory machinery is in good working order.
  • Analyze production data

Industries Employing Wood Factory Managers

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Government
  • Specialty trade contractors

Cabinet Maker

Cabinetmakers build, repair, and install wooden cabinets and furniture.

They are hired by custom furniture manufacturers, construction companies, and cabinetmaking contractors, and they can also be self-employed.

Average Salary

Cabinet makers earn a median annual salary of $62,558.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Operate woodworking machines
  • Fitting parts together
  • Repair and restyle wooden furniture
  • Prepare and interpret blueprints
  • Prepare work estimates

Industries Employing Cabinet Makers

  • Construction companies
  • Cabinetmaking contract
  • Self-employed
  • Furniture manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing

Paper Mill Manager

Paper mill managers oversee and coordinate daily operations at the mill.

In mills that make a variety of paper goods, different shifts or sections focus on various products.

They ensure the crew follows all mill and job safety requirements and standard operating procedures.

Average Salary

Paper mill managers earn a median annual salary of $68,483.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Manages and optimizes the overall operations of the plant
  • Sets policies and makes decisions guiding productivity.
  • Increase production, assets capacity, and flexibility
  • Review financial statements, sales, and activity reports
  • Manage both revenue and cost elements of the company

Industries Employing Paper mill manager

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Government

Furniture Finisher

Furniture finishers shape and recondition older furniture by applying various substances, such as paint, oil, varnish, etc.

This role requires woodworking knowledge to repair worn parts and propose various colors and styles to their customers to revitalize old furniture.

Average Salary

Furniture finishers earn a median annual salary of $39,657.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Apply finish materials to wood surfaces
  • Sand wooden surfaces to remove imperfections
  • Strip old finish from furniture
  • Refinish damaged and worn furniture
  • Repair and replace parts of damaged furniture
  • Inspect furniture pieces for defects and damage

Industries Employing Furniture Finishers

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Government
  • Specialty trade contractors


Carpenters work alongside construction crews and build wooden structures for various projects.

They can follow the project's blueprints, measure the wood they need, and shape it according to the job's requirements.

They use hand tools such as saws and hammers to carry out their tasks.

Average Salary

Carpenters earn a median annual salary of $60,585.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Measure and mark materials
  • Build structures using wood or metal.
  • Install plumbing, electrical wiring, and other components in new structures
  • Select appropriate synthetic wood materials for tasks
  • Measure and cut wood
  • Repair and replace damaged wood structures

Industries Employing Carpenter

  • Self-employed workers
  • Residential building construction
  • Building finishing contractors
  • Nonresidential building construction
  • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors

Woodworking Machine Setters

Woodworking machine setters set up and monitor automatic or semi-automatic woodworking machines, such as precision sawing, shaping, planning, etc., to fabricate or repair wooden parts for furniture, fixtures, and other wooden products.

Average Salary

Woodworking machine setters earn a median salary of $ 35,560.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Set up and monitor several types of woodworking machines
  • Operate preset special-purpose woodworking machines to fabricate wooden products
  • Select tools according to a workpiece
  • Verify dimensions and keep machines in stable order
  • Read and interpret specifications

Industries Employing Woodworking Machine Setters

  • Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
  • Veneer, Plywood, and Engineered Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Sawmills and Wood Preservation
  • Merchant Wholesalers

Furniture Mover

Furniture movers load and unload furniture from a truck and transport it to the customer's home or office.

Furniture movers also assemble and install pieces of furniture.

Furniture movers must be strong and capable of lifting heavy objects without assistance.

Average Salary

Furniture movers earn a median annual salary of $34,271.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Inspect furniture for damage or defects before moving it
  • Prepare furniture for moving
  • Explain to customers how to disassemble furniture
  • Connect straps to furniture to prevent it from falling off the truck
  • Moving furniture following the customer's specifications

Industries Employing Furniture Movers

  • Moving and storage companies
  • Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing

Model Builder

Model builders craft three-dimensional scale models that companies use in various situations.

They use the information and preliminary blueprints to bring an idea into reality.

Model makers also work on film sets as part of the special effects team.

Average Salary

Model builders earn a median annual salary of $67,490.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop scale reproductions
  • Develop and document operating procedures for CNC machines
  • Read blueprints and consult with designers to determine sizes and shapes of patterns
  • Fit and assemble wood parts

Industries Employing Model Builder

  • Architecture
  • Film theater
  • Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

Engineered Wood Designer

Engineered wood designers read blueprints and complete work assigned by the architectural design manager.

They also ensure designs are accurate, up to code, and meet client standards.

And they are responsible for EWP product management and inventory control.

Average Salary

Engineered wood designers earn a median annual salary of $59,710.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Read blueprints and complete design work
  • Ensure designs are accurate
  • You create accurate price estimates/quotes for projects based on customer specifications.
  • Draft Engineered Wood Product (EWP) placement layouts

Industries Employing Engineered Wood Designers

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Self-employed workers

Sawmill Supervisor

Sawmill managers organize and control the production of timber products in a sawmill.

They must know the forestry industry, woodwork, and timber products, understand sawmill processing methods and technology, and have good communication skills.

Average Salary

Sawmill supervisors earn a median annual salary of $63,222.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Supervise the overall production operation of the sawmill.
  • Work out any production problems
  • Monitor the quality of the timber product
  • Oversee budgets and costs
  • Oversee health and safety procedures in the mill
  • Recruit and direct staff

Industries Employing Sawmill Supervisors

  • Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing
  • Veneer, Plywood, and Engineered Wood Product Manufacturing
  • Sawmills and Wood Preservation

Wood Pattern Maker

Wood pattern makers are skilled technicians who develop templates used to mass-produce furniture.

They translate blueprints and design models into factory patterns.

Average Salary

Wood pattern makers earn a median annual salary of $51,669.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design and fabricate wooden sectional patterns
  • Create sections on wood stock
  • Maintain an up-to-date knowledge of the casting process and techniques
  • Have knowledge of woodworking machinery
  • Ensure produced cast remains within set specification after surface finishing.
  • Design wooden models which serve as prototypes for an original concept.
  • Study and interpret construction details

Industries Employing Wood Pattern Maker

  • Furniture and related product manufacturing
  • Wood product manufacturing
  • Self-employed workers
  • Specialty trade contractors

Construction Managers

Woodworkers with many years of experience and administrative, budgeting, and organizational skills can progress to become construction managers or general contractors.

These experts supervise construction projects by teaming with architects and engineers and hiring construction workers such as carpenters, electricians, and laborers.

Average Salary

Construction managers earn a median annual salary of $98,890.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Prepare cost estimates and work timetables
  • Interpret and explain contracts
  • Supervise construction projects
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction specialists
  • Select subcontractors and coordinate their activities
  • Coordinate tasks on the construction sites
  • Monitor projects and report progress to the construction firm
  • Respond to work delays and other problems with the project
  • Ensure that the project complies with legal requirements and meet industry standards

Industries Employing Construction Managers

  • Self-employed workers
  • Specialty trade contractors
  • Nonresidential building construction
  • Residential building construction
  • Heavy and civil engineering construction

Corrugator Supervisor

Corrugator supervisors oversee the production team members who use converting machines to create corrugated boards, panels, and related materials.

Average Salary

Corrugator supervisors earn a median annual salary of $70,603.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Ensure employees carry out operations according to project specifications
  • Assign duties to employees and plan production to meet quality expectations.
  • Hire and train new employees

Industries Employing Corrugator Supervisors

  • Paper companies
  • Government
  • Packaging
  • Wood product manufacturing

How to Boost your Woodworking Career

There are several ways to boost your career after acquiring a degree.

You can take professional certification courses to advance your career, making yourself more attractive to hiring companies.

Other ways to boost your career include:

  • Learn from a mentor
  • Join a professional woodworking society
  • Keep building your skills
  • Attend conferences and webinars
  • Keep up with your industry
  • Internships
  • Networking

Pros and Cons of Woodworking Careers

With a degree in woodworking, you can land high job demands.

Here are a few pros and cons of a woodworking career.


  • Flexibility
  • Ability to start your business from home
  • Scalable
  • Quick build time
  • Daily physical activity
  • Variety of job paths to choose from


  • Crowded Space
  • Accidental injury
  • The job outlook is below average
  • The job requires hard physical labor
  • Inconsistency in work opportunities

Skills You'll Develop While Studying Woodworking

Here are specific skills you will need to be proficient in, regardless of your role in woodworking.

These skills are essential as they provide a framework for career development.

Physical strength and stamina

Working with wood requires strength and stamina to lift and move large and heavy pieces around.

Mechanical abilities

Woodworkers who use machinery require mechanical skills to set up and adjust it before starting a new project.

Those who use modern technology can also operate computer-based tools.

Technical knowledge

Woodworkers employ blueprints and design drawings to guide their work, and being able to interpret them is a valuable quality. Highly skilled operators are needed in this industry.


Many careers in woodworking involve cutting wood based on precise instructions. Having a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination can improve your work output.

Attention to Detail

Woodworking requires the ability to keep track of all relevant project details.

Natural attention to detail can also help you avoid any work-related accidents.

How to Prepare for a Woodworking Career

Below is how you can prepare for a woodworking career and advance.

1. Obtaining a Degree

Obtaining a woodworking degree is vital in your career journey.

They will help you develop the essential skills to be competitive in the industry and also help you to understand how to function and operate as a woodworker.

2. Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship or vocational program will give you practical woodworking experience.

You can learn how to plan, operate and complete a project safely and effectively, which will be helpful when working in a full-time job in the future.

Becoming a skilled woodworker takes months, and experiences earned from apprenticeships will saved you time.

3. Choose a specialty

As you seek out experience and training, you will tend toward a particular niche of woodworking, such as :

  • Furniture finisher
  • Cabinet makers
  • Wood construction manager
  • Sawmill manager
  • Carpenter
  • Woodworking designer, etc.

It's essential also to set your goals and know the niche you want to focus on.

**4. Join a professional body **

Joining a professional organization will create opportunities for you and expand your networks.

5. Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, credentials often demonstrate competence and professionalism.

They also help you advance in the occupation.

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program with five advanced credentials.

Because of the preponderance of CNC machines in production, workers will also benefit from obtaining CNC machine certification.

Community colleges and CNC machine manufacturers offer certification.

Woodworking Resources to Help Your Career

Below are educational and professional resources to help you start or advance a woodworking career

How to Switch to a Woodworking Career

Most careers in woodworking do not require a bachelor's degree.

As such, you don't necessarily need a degree to pursue a career in woodworking.

However, advanced positions require specialized proficiencies.

Advanced education, certifications, and field experience often achieve these skills.

With these competencies, switching to woodworking will be easier as it requires high precision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Woodworking?

Woodworking is the skill of making products from wood, including wood carving, joinery, carpentry, wood turning, and cabinet making (cabinetry and furniture).

Woodworkers manufacture products such as cabinets and furniture.

What certification do I need for a Woodworking career?

While not all employers need certification, getting certified increases your possibility of getting a woodworking job.

You can pursue certifications through the Architectural Woodwork Institute and the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

Can I get a Woodworking degree online?

You can earn a woodworking degree online.

You can earn one from a highly recognized and authorized woodwork program that you can complete at your pace, including coursework.

What fields can Woodworking professionals work in?

Anyone with a degree in woodworking can work in any woodworking-related industry, depending on their education level, skill sets, and experience.

Lucrative opportunities include :

  • Paper Mill manager
  • Furniture mover
  • Corrugator supervisor
  • Wood construction manager
  • Woodworkers
  • Corrugator supervisor
  • Furniture removalist
  • Woodwork construction manager
  • Woodwork designer, etc.

Is there a high demand for Woodworking majors?

Woodworkers are in average demand; according to BLS, employment for woodworkers will grow by 3% between 2021 and 2031.

Despite the limited employment growth, an average of 27,200 openings for woodworkers are projected each year.

Final Thoughts

The craft of woodworking has grown over the years.

Woodworking allows the craftsman to slow down and attain a sense of perspective.

While doing this, skills are developed, projects are accomplished more precisely, and beauty is created.

Obtaining a degree in woodworking can prepare you for various positions in the woodworking industry.

Whatever your option, this guide will provide you with the necessary information to break into the field of woodworking.

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