Woodworking is an evergreen career, and its demand seems never to be deemed. Suppose you are thinking of working as a woodworker. In that case, you may become confused about whether it’s a good option for you, especially because there are so many alternatives to wooden items today. It makes you repeatedly ask the same question: is woodworking a good career?
Yes, woodworking is a good career option considering it has a growing demand on the market and the salary is also high. Besides, you do not need a college degree, which makes this profession more attractive. However, you need to develop particular skills to become a successful woodworker.
I know you have a lot more questions about your woodworking career. You need to know certain things about woodworking, its pros, and cons. Plus, knowing what salaries to expect and skills to develop is essential. Stay tuned till the end to learn everything about a woodworking career and making money!
Woodworker And Woodworking Career: Things You need to Know
Before aiming for a woodworking career, you need to know certain things. These will enhance your knowledge about the career path and will help you decide whether it is right for you or not.
Some of the essential things you need to know about woodworkers and working careers are:
1. Primary tasks of a woodworker
When I first heard about woodworking, the first question that came into my mind was, “what does a woodworker do?” Although you may imagine woodworkers crafting wooden furniture, that’s not their only job.
A woodworker’s responsibility includes designing, creating, handling, and repairing wood and wooden items. Woodworkers basically work to build furniture, cabinets, doors, windows, floors, etc.
Some of the primary tasks of a woodworker are:
- Preparing detailed architectural schematics or blueprints and drawing the design of the item he will build.
- Preparing machinery for work.
- Carry heavy wood pieces (over 50 pounds) into and out of operational machinery.
- Design & cut woods with tools and machinery using computer software.
- Finding the perfect sanding, boring, and milling tools for the task.
- Understand and maintain or exceed industry standards while building wood items.
These are only a few basics that most woodworkers do in their daily work days. Depending on which types of woodworking you do, there can be more or fewer tasks.
2. Types of woodworking
You must have seen some woodworkers crafting small pieces of wood items while others set the floors of your home. Are they all the same? Absolutely not.
There are several types of woodworking with various job descriptions. The 7 most common types of woodworkers are:
- Furniture maker: Furniture makers are those who craft wood pieces to build furniture, such as chairs, tables, sofas, etc. They can be of two types.
First, furniture sanders inspect & modify unfinished furniture. Second, furniture finishers identify strategies to refurbish finished furniture to give them a better look.
- Carpenters: Carpentry is the most common type of woodworking and includes many tasks. Carpenters mainly build wood items on construction sites, residential homes, or workshops.
Basic carpentry jobs include laying floorboards, installing roofing, and making windows and doors. Such tasks require workers to know how to plane or sand timber using machinery.
- Woodturning: Have you used any bowls, spoons, or vases made of wood? Woodturners make these beautiful-looking items. Woodturning means spinning pieces of wood in a lathe and cutting them with a gauge or chisel. You will have a lot of rooms in woodturning to show your creativity.
- Machine operator: A machine operator or machinist typically works with machines to set up equipment, load wood materials, and give them a proper shape. Workers in this sector mainly operate with wood sawing machine setters.
- Pyrography: Pyrography on wood means carving texts or pictures on wood pieces. You can carve different texts, engrave popular paintings, and paint animal photos on wood. Pyrography workers mainly use wood-burning pens for such works.
- Cabinet makers: Cabinet making is another popular woodworking type similar to furniture making but involves different works. The cabinet makers build custom design cabinets and shelves. It has many working opportunities with the growing popularity of interior designs.
- Construction manager: Construction managers overlook the process of house or building construction. It is similar to carpentry, with the difference that managers must collaborate with architects or engineers and may also need to hire carpenters and laborers for assistance.
A single person can’t have expertise in all the areas. That’s why you need to decide which woodworking sector you want to build your career.
3. Work environment
The environment where woodworkers work largely depends on the industry. However, most woodworkers work in dirty and noisy areas.
Wherever you work will have dust from wood scrolling and also the noise of different machines and tools. Working in such conditions can be tough for a physically unfit person.
Nonetheless, most woodworkers are independent contractors. That means you may build your own workshop, maintaining a work-friendly environment.
The main cost of woodworking is purchasing good quality machines and tools. You need to buy them before you start working, so consider whether you can afford them.
For example, a good handheld saw may cost around $100 to $500. But sawmill prices are approximately $3,000 to $7,000. Plus, you may also need other tools and safety equipment.
Try to make a list of tools and items you will need for your work and estimate a budget. Then check if you have enough money to purchase them.
However, I recommend you start small and buy only the items that are a must for your job. Then when you start earning. You can opt-in for professional tools.
5. Market competition
Woodworking is a traditional job. People have been working in this sector for a long time. When entering this market, remember that there are already a lot of professionals in this line of work.
It can be pretty tough to get work at first. But if you have enough skills, you will hopefully become successful. However, I wouldn’t recommend you enter the market if you don’t have the necessary skills.
Now, you must be thinking about what skills a woodworker needs. Keep reading this article, and I will discuss them shortly.
6. Keep the end goal in mind
You also need to determine what you want to achieve from your job. Set your end goal and see if the woodworking can fill them.
For instance, many young people come into this industry thinking of making six-digit earnings. But believe me, it’s quite tough to earn such an amount in woodworking. It’s not impossible, though.
I have seen many woodworkers earning six-digit figures. But it took them more than 15 to 20 years to reach that level. If you can wait that long, maybe it’s worth trying woodworking.
The expected number of wood jobs will grow approximately 8 percent from 2020 to 2030. That’s similar to the average numbers of all the other jobs. This means that woodworking is a growing sector, and you have many career opportunities.
Nowadays, there have been many alternatives to wooden home decors due to the evolution of advanced technology. That’s why many may think a woodworking career is not viable long-term.
But trust me, it still has a lot of opportunities, and you can understand that from the above growth estimation. A lot of people still prefer wood over anything else. One of the key reasons behind that is people consider wood as a sign of luxury.
Till now, I have talked about the basic things of a woodworking career. But that’s not enough to determine whether a career is good.
Certain factors make woodworking a good career. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why woodworking is a good career:
1. High paying job without a degree
It takes nearly 19.7 years for graduates to pay their student loans in the USA! That’s shocking! Imagine paying your student loan almost two decades after completing your study. It doesn’t sound good.
Woodworking is one of the highest-paying jobs that doesn’t require a college degree. That means you don’t need to set aside a significant portion of your earnings to pay the debt.
2. Hands-on work
Do you hate sitting in front of a desk and watching a computer screen all day? Then woodworking can be an excellent career option for you.
You get the opportunity to work with your hands and directly influence the outcome. That’s why woodworkers have pretty good job satisfaction compared to desk jobs.
3. Work on your time
Being a woodworker allows you to work on your time as most woodworkers are independent contractors. You don’t need to work under any grumpy boss; when you feel like having a break, you can take it.
As a novice, you may try working under an expert. But when you have confidence in your work, you can go independently. Not to mention, such independence results in high job satisfaction in this industry.
4. Opportunity to grow
Although it may take some time, there’s excellent potential to grow in the woodworking industry. You can start low and gradually grow your business.
Many of my acquaintances started working in different workshops under veterans, then built their own workshops or firm soon after. You can do the same to take your income to the next level.
5. Chance to show your creativity
Another excellent thing about woodworking is that you have a great chance to show your creativity. Here, you are working with your hands. That means you can craft the pieces as you want. You can use your imagination to give the wood a unique shape.
Plus, most clients today want something unique for themselves. Here you can use your creativity to build unique wooden items for your clients.
That was all about the positive sides of woodworking. But isn’t there any downside to this career? Of course, there is, and you should know about them to make better decisions.
Some of the cons of becoming a woodworker are:
6. Physical labor
Woodworking requires hard physical labor. You need to have enough strength to carry around heavy pieces of wood. It may not be suitable for unfit people.
7. Chances of injury
As it involves so much physical labor, carpentry or woodworking has a high chance of injury. You must be concentrated while working to avoid any kind of accident.
8. Inconsistent work opportunity
It has been seen that sometimes there is a high demand for woodworkers, while there is occasionally low demand. You need to hold your patience while there’s no work for you.
Overall, it seems like carpentry/woodworking can be an excellent career option. But is that true for your country too? Continue scrolling to find out whether woodworking is a good career in your country.
The woodworking industry size in the UK is approximately 3.8 billion. There’s always growing demand for carpenters on construction sites or in buildings. Plus, the payment is also high in this nation. Overall, woodworking is undoubtedly a good career in the UK.
Woodworking is an 11 Billion Dollar industry in Australia with approximately 122 thousand woodworkers.
Even with so many employees, the demand for new carpenters or woodworkers is growing in the country. If you have the proper skill, it can be an excellent job for you in Australia.
Over the next few years, there will be a demand for approximately 2,350 woodworkers in Canada each year. The number can even be higher in the upcoming years.
Besides, the pay grade is also high, especially in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, and Langley. Considering all the details, a carpentry job is worth trying in Canada.
The payment for woodworkers in Ireland is higher than in some neighboring countries. It is constantly growing with the upsurge in demand for carpenters in Ireland. In short, woodworking is one of the best careers in Ireland without a college degree.
Woodworkers in South Africa enjoy an average 5% increment in salary. That’s one of the best figures comparing some of the other countries.
It also says that woodworkers are in high demand in South Africa. Hence, woodworking can be an awesome career choice if you live in this country.
Salary Chart of Woodworkers (Years/Months/Hour) In Different Countries:
|Woodworking career in different countries||Salary per hour (Average)||Salary per month (Average)||Salary per year (Average)||Highest paying cities (average salary per hour)|
|USA||$23.25||$4,980.75||$59,769||New York, NY ($28.20)Chicago, IL ($26.28)Philadelphia, PA ($25.71)|
|Canada||$28.51||$6,054.67||$72,656||Victoria, BC ($32.15)Vancouver, BC ($30.90)Calgary, AB ($30.64)|
|Australia||$35.90||$6451.67||$77,420||Melbourne, VIC ($45.66)Brisbane, QLD ($43.71)Sydney Eastern Suburbs, NSW ($43.59)|
|Ireland||€21.44||€3,394.41||€40,733||Sligo, County Sligo (€23.30)Wexford, County Wexford (€21.97)South Dublin, County Dublin (€21.94)|
|South Africa||R 45.30||R 9 783||R 117 298||Capetown, Western Cape (R98.34)Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape (R67.33)Northern Suburbs, Western Cape (R50.13)|
|UK||£21.31||£3,679.33||£44,152||Oxford (£22.73)Uxbridge (£21.56)London (£21.50)|
How to become a carpenter?
You can become a carpenter in three easy steps. First, earn a school degree, then enroll in an apprenticeship program, and finally land a carpentry job.
Let’s have a detailed look at the three steps to becoming a carpenter:
1. Earn a high school degree
Although you don’t need a college degree, becoming a carpenter requires some level of education. That’s why you need to earn a high school degree first.
Besides, you can work as an assistant with a professional carpenter to gain basic work knowledge. It will help you stay ahead of others in the market.
2. Complete apprenticeship program
Commercial or industrial experts offer an apprentice program for those who want to become a carpenter. It will teach safety measurements and the basics of using different carpentry tools.
Carpentry apprentice programs usually take around three to four years, depending on how fast you can learn.
3. Enter the job market
After completing your apprenticeship, you can directly enter the carpentry job market. Some people try to get higher education in carpentry, but that’s completely optional. You can advance in your carpentry career with the experience you will gain over the years.
Only gaining knowledge of woodworking will not help you to become a professional carpenter. You need to develop certain skills to become a successful woodworker.
If you fail to develop these skills, you may not even be able to complete your apprenticeship program. But what are those must-have skills to become a carpenter?
Here are the top skills that a woodworking career demands:
1. Physical strength and fitness
As you already know, woodworking is labor-intensive work. You will need to lift heavy pieces of wood and handle large machinery. All these works require you to be physically fit.
That’s why you must work to improve your body’s fitness. Try to exercise and learn to lift heavy things. Learning these skills will help you to do better in woodworking.
2. Measurement skills
You will need to measure a lot while working with woods. You need to cut wood pieces in a certain length, then craft them with specific measurements for the final piece. That’s why you also need to develop your measurement skill.
However, it will be easier for you if you are good at math. Now, use your mathematical knowledge to improve your measurement skills. Maintaining accuracy is crucial here.
3. Attention to detail/Precision
Woodworking requires extreme precision or accuracy. You need excellent attention to detail skills to carry out different jobs. Mistakes of even half an inch can ruin all your work.
Failing to maintain preciseness will cause you to do the same work repeatedly. It will result in a loss of time and money. That’s why you must improve your attention to detail skills for woodworking.
4. Mechanical knowledge
While working in the woodworking industry, you will need to work with different hand tools and machinery. You must have the proper mechanical knowledge to operate these machines correctly.
Some of the machines you need to learn the use include power saws, drills, and cranes. Depending on which field of woodworking you choose, the machines may vary.
5. Creativity skills
Whether making furniture or working on the interior, you need good creativity skills in woodworking. Certain wood items may be the same every time, but the design will be changed in most cases.
You must have good creative skills to meet the changing demand of the clients. It is essential to be able to make unique pieces to impress your clients.
Woodworking is not a one-man’s job. At the beginning of your career, you may work as an assistant to a senior woodworker. Then when you become experienced and no longer require supervision, you will need an assistant.
In both cases, you will be required to work with others. That’s why you also need to develop your teamwork skills to do work with more efficiency. Read more.
You will need a trade or business license to work as an independent woodworker. You may not need a license as a novice, but to work on projects that cost more than $50,000, you must have a license, which you can obtain from the Department of Licenses and Inspection (L&I).
Most states do not require any formal registration to work as a woodworker. However, depending on your area of work, you may need to have some kind of registration. For example, a carpenter needs Home Improvement Contractor registration to work.
You can also register in different trade unions and the woodworking community. They not only offer better working opportunities but also will help you when necessary.
Besides, you may also need your woodworking apprenticeship certificate to get better opportunities. Try to attend some other short courses on woodworking that professional workers offer. Having these certifications is not compulsory, but you will get better work opportunities and be treated better if you have them.
Is woodworking the same paying job in different countries?
No, the pay range varies from country to country. You can already see the summary of the carpenter’s salary in the table above.
Note: You may not earn much in the beginning, but you will have a lot of opportunities when you become a pro in this field.
What is an entry-level carpentry salary in Australia?
The entry-level carpentry salary in Australia is approximately $64,002, while experienced carpenters make up to $92,625 per year.
Note: You can make $77,420 per year from carpentry in Australia.
What is an entry-level carpentry salary in South Africa?
An entry-level carpenter can earn approximately R 77 280, while an experienced carpenter may earn up to R 221 880 per year in South Africa.
Note: A carpenter in South Africa earns R 117 298 per year on average.
What is an entry-level carpentry salary in Ireland?
A novice can earn as much as €38,415 from entry-level carpentry jobs, while a professional carpenter may earn up to €44,486 per year in Ireland.
Note: A carpenter earns approximately €40,733 per year in Ireland.
How do I become a carpenter in South Africa?
If you want to become a carpenter in South Africa, you will need to complete N1, N2, and N3 certifications and pass a trade test. It will take almost 3 to 4 years to complete these programs.
However, there are also short courses on carpentry available in South Africa that take around one to two months to complete.
What qualifications do I need to be a carpenter in Ireland?
You need to earn an apprenticeship degree in carpentry in Ireland to be a carpenter. The degree requires you to have at least a Grade D in five subjects in the junior certificate or equivalent to get admission to the carpentry program.
Lastly, if you ask me if woodworking is worth it, I will say yes.
- Firstly, it’s a billion-dollar industry and continuously growing.
- Secondly, you don’t need any professional degree to start working.
- Thirdly, it pays high.
What more do you need to select a career path? You only need to consider if you have the necessary skills to become a woodworker. If yes, then it can be an excellent career choice for you to make a handsome income.