Duties and responsibilities
Cabinet makers are carpenters that are responsible for making, repairing or restoring wooden furniture, from chairs to tables to storage units. A cabinet makers typical daily duties and responsibility are likely to include:
- Creating and designing drawings for different types of furniture
- Deciding on the quantity and type of wood needed
- Deciding on the construction methods required to build the furniture
- Buying the wood from suppliers
- Cutting, shaping and fixing together the wood, using hand, power and computer-controlled tools
- Applying the finishing touches to the furniture, such as sanding down or polishing
To become a cabinet maker, a high school diploma is typically required. It is then typical to complete an apprenticeship or take a course at a technical school. Either of these options normally takes around 3 years, and includes training on how to use computer-controlled machinery, in wood technology, furniture manufacturing, wood engineering, and production management.
Although not required, becoming certified demonstrates competence and professionalism and can help cabinet makers to advance in the profession. The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) publishes product standards for the industry, and offers training programs for mid-management positions.
Skills and relevant work experience
Cabinet makers need to be physically fit as they must be strong enough to lift heavy pieces of wood and to endure long periods of standing and repetitious movements. As well as this, cabinet makers need skills such as:
- Communication skills, as cabinet makers will need to communicate with clients and other construction workers to make furniture to the correct brief
- Attention to detail, as cabinet makers need to pay attention to every detail in order to meet brief specification and to keep themselves safe
- Dexterity, as a cabinet makers must make precise cuts, using a variety of hand tools and power tools. Therefore, they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination
- Mathematical and technical skills, as cabinet makers need to measure spaces and wood, they need to interpret drawings, use computers and complexed machines to cut and fit wood
Cabinet makers tend to work typical full time hours. They may, however, have to work longer hours to meet clients deadlines.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a woodworker, which is another word for cabinet maker, in the United States was $32,690 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,070. The starting pay for apprentices is obviously less than what fully trained carpenters. As apprentices gain experience, their pay will increase.
The top paid industries were speciality trade contractors, with an average salary of $37,980. This is closely followed by furniture and related product manufacturing with an average annual salary of $34,290 and then wood product manufacturing, with a salary of $30,730.
The overall employment of woodworkers/cabinet makers is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028. This stability in employment is predicted as there is predicted to be a greater demand for domestic wood products.
However, automation and a greater emphasis on computerized numerical controlled machines may limit the employment growth of some cabinet makers in the wood product manufacturing industries.