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Cabinetmaking Career Information: Becoming a Cabinetmaker

Research the requirements to become a cabinetmaker. Learn about the job description, and see the step-by-step process to start a career in cabinetmaking.

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Should I Become a Cabinetmaker?

Cabinetmakers cut and assemble wood parts to create cabinets for customers, often making their products according to certain specifications. In addition to designing and building cabinets, they might handle installation. They can find employment at furniture stores, furniture repair shops and construction companies.

These workers need to be familiar with various tools and machines, skilled with their hands and adept at sanding, staining and sealing wood into polished products. Safety precautions need to be followed to prevent injuries from tools and to protect cabinetmakers from wood dust and extreme noise.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required, but workers may complete a postsecondary training program or on-the-job training
Degree Field Cabinetmaking, woodworking, furniture construction
Experience Can take up to three years of work experience to become a skilled cabinetmaker
Key Skills Detail-oriented, problem-solving skills, math knowledge, ability to read complicated blueprints and manuals
Additional Requirements Physical strength and stamina, dexterity
Salary (2014) $33,500 per year (mean annual wage)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Receive Training

Most cabinetmakers receive the majority of their training on the job; however, they can also obtain skills by completing formal training at community colleges, vocational schools or universities. Some programs result in a certificate, and others may offer apprenticeship opportunities. Certificate programs typically take about a year to complete.

Training can include instruction on computer operations and computerized cabinetmaking for creating drawings and designs. Students can learn about wood characteristics, joinery, estimating and ordering materials, project design and assembly. Some topics participants might study in a cabinetmaking or woodworking program include jigs and fixtures, cabinet installation, millwork and wood veneering. Other courses or topics may cover wood carving, wood finishing, frame making, router usage and mass production techniques.

Success Tip:

  • Consider an associate's degree. While a college degree may not be required to begin working as a cabinetmaker, the more training students receive, the more they may stand out to employers. Some community or vocational colleges may offer an associate's degree program in cabinetmaking. These programs prepare students for fine woodworking and can take approximately two years to complete.

Step 2: Be Aware of Job Dangers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), woodworking jobs can come with potential harms and dangers. Cabinetmakers often carry heavy materials, which can lead to physical strain. The need to stand and lift heavy objects is also common. Cabinetmakers typically work in loud, dusty environments and must wear special safety equipment to prevent injury. Common injuries include carpel tunnel syndrome and back soreness, which can be caused by overexertion, repetition of certain movements and bending.

Being aware of the dangers involved with cabinetmaking can keep professionals safe. Cabinetmakers should utilize the woodworking safety gear available, which includes gloves, earplugs and goggles. Also, proper ventilation systems can minimize the effects of harmful dust and fumes in the workplace.

Step 3: Gain Experience

It is vital for cabinetmakers to gain experience in order to become skilled workers. The BLS reported that it takes about one year of work experience to learn the basic tasks and operations related to cabinetmaking. It can take three or more years, however, to become a skilled woodworker. Certificate and associate's degree programs also provide vital hands-on instruction that can help cabinetmakers become more skilled and possibly decrease some of the work experience requirements.

Step 4: Earn Voluntary Certification

While not required, earning voluntary certification can show a cabinetmaker's expertise and may lead to career advancement. Organizations that offer relevant certifications include the Architectural Woodwork Institute and the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

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