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Woodworkers Job Description, Career as a Woodworkers, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: High school

Salary: Median— $25,076 per year

Employment Outlook: Fair

The process of creating something by using wood is known as woodworking. Woodworkers design, carve, and build a wide variety of wood products like musical instruments, furniture, cabinets, tool holders, dressers, and other arts and crafts. Initially, woodworkers used mostly hand tools of different kinds to create ornate furnishings. However, in modern times, the entire industry is technical, and a lot of the work is automated.

The woodworking industry is vast, and includes various categories of workers. For instance, there are certain groups of woodworkers employed as machine operators in mills, while some other groups may work as building contractors in large cities. However, the industry can be categorized under broad subdivisions like carpentry, furniture building, and cabinet making.

Woodworkers in carpentry are responsible for erecting the frame of a building and putting in other partitions like roofs, floors, stairs, windows, and doors. Cabinet makers, on the other hand, take care of the decoration details inside a house. They primarily assemble the cut stock and put pieces together to create chairs, tables, doors, and frames. Furniture builders need to construct finished products from rough wood. These products are generally designed by interior designers, and require tremendous skill and artistic ability to be created.

Education and Training Requirements

Woodworkers need to have a high school diploma prior to joining the profession. This is essential since the job calls for extensive use of mathematical, geometry, and computer skills. One can opt for a degree program from any trade or vocational school. Many colleges and universities also offer training in wood engineering and technology, furniture manufacturing, and production management.

Most woodworkers learn their skills while on the job. They work under experienced people and are initially given simple tasks like machine operation. Though the basic skills can be picked up in a couple of months, it may take years before one can become established as a skilled woodworker.

Apart from formal training, woodworkers also need certain qualities like manual adroitness, mechanical skills, and attentiveness. It is extremely important to know and observe safety procedures. It is also beneficial to have knowledge of the operation of computer-controlled machinery.

Getting the Job

Woodworkers can apply directly for jobs and apprenticeships at manufacturing firms. Often, skilled woodworkers start their own businesses, and entry-level candidates can find employment in such establishments. Certain employment agencies and information exchange forums on the Internet also advertise job openings in the field.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement opportunities in this profession are limited. Woodworkers in sawmills can advance to positions of quality control supervisor, finishing end superintendent, yard supervisor/ foreman, quality process coordinator, and maintenance superintendent. Those employed in secondary manufacturing plants can move into the roles of capital project safety coordinator, shop foreman, turning room supervisor, and production supervisor/ manager. However, these promotions depend not only on the worker’s education and training, but also on his/her expertise and experience. To avail of better opportunities, one can attend seminars and workshops, or opt for advanced college education.

Employment of woodworkers across all industries is expected to increase 3% by 2016. The occupation is likely to suffer due to large-scale outsourcing of work and the increasing use of advanced technology in manufacturing firms. However, the prospects will be better for those with the requisite qualifications and skills. Woodworkers with CNC machine tool operation knowledge will be offered the best opportunities. On the whole, because experienced woodworkers accumulate skills relevant to a variety of woodworking tasks, the profession offers easy shifts from one job to the other or from one part of the woodworking facility to another.

Working Conditions

The working environment of woodworkers is largely dependent on the industry in which one is employed. For instance, those in furniture and cabinet manufacturing industries generally work indoors in comparatively cleaner environments, while those in logging and sawmills are exposed to noisy and dirty surroundings. Nevertheless, irrespective of the industry, it is absolutely essential for woodworkers to observe precautions and wear suitable protective equipment. Also, due to the nature of the job, woodworkers commonly suffer from physical ailments like eye and back aches and muscle strain.

Where to Go for More Information

International Federation of Building and Wood Workers
54, rte des Acacias
CH -1227 Carouge (GE)

Woodworkers Journal
PO Box 56583
Boulder, CO 80322-6583

WOOD magazine
P.O. Box 37439
Boone, IA 50037-0439

Earnings and Benefits

The earnings of woodworkers depend on their skills and particular field of experience. In 2008, the median yearly salary of woodworking machine operators, setters, and tenders was $23,940; that of bench carpenters and cabinetmakers was $27,010; for furniture finishers, it was $25,010; and sawing machine operators, setters, and tenders reported median annual salary of $24,280. On the whole, the mean annual wages ranged between $23,810 and $49,420.

Woodworkers usually enjoy benefits like sick leaves and annual vacation leaves, as well as bonuses.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesManufacturing & Production