Bench carpenters and cabinet makers made a median hourly salary of $13.93 in May 2008. The wages earned for the lowest 10% of income earners was below $9.22. The wages for the highest 10 % of income earners were higher than $21.73. Wages for the middle 50% earned from between $11.14 and $17.40.*
Operators, tenders of wood and sawing machine setters earned a median hourly wage of $12.41. Wages for the lowest 10% of income earners were below $8.35. Wages for the highest income earners were higher than $18.92. Wages for the middle 50% earned from between $9.96 and $15.24.*
Median hourly wages of woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing were $11.89. The middle 50 percent earned between $9.69 and $14.73. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.28, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $17.89.*
Other than sawing, the wages of operators, tenders and woodworking machine setters were $11.89. Wages for the lowest 10% of income earners were below $8.28. Wages for the highest income earners were higher than $17.89. Wages for the middle 50% earned from between $9.69 and $14.73.*
Furniture finishers earned a median wage of $12.93 and all other woodworkers earned $11.57.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Wood products remain an integral part of the lives of most people. Even though other materials are used extensively in daily life such as metals and plastic, wood has many uses in our society. Products like furniture, are produced and distributed in mass quantities around the world. Woodworkers are the people who design and construct these products to specific specifications.
Woodworkers utilize the latest in woodworking technology including advanced power tools and equipment when practicing their craft. Mass production is involved using highly accurate assembly line systems but some work is done on an individual basis as well for portions of work that are not feasibly made with automated machinery.
All types of equipment for creating and finishing wood products are used by woodworkers. These pieces of equipment include drill presses, nailing machines, routers and lathes. Woodworkers fasten the pieces of wood together after all of the parts are made to the correct specifications and dimensions. If required the finished product is sanded and stained. They may also be coated with varnish.
Different personnel of woodworkers often specialize in various aspects of the production process. Machine operators receive specialized training to operate their equipment properly. Other woodworkers such as finishers specialize in their part of the process. All woodworkers must have an understanding of the entire system they work under and know how to fulfill their specific role effectively to ensure a successfully completed product.
Some woodworkers must know be able to fulfill tasks in more than one specialized area. These workers are capable of functioning in multiple stages of the production process.
The outlook in this industry is for slow growth compared with other occupations. Those with excellent skill will always be in demand.*
Many more woodworkers now have to make adjustments in the industry due to technological advancements in manufacturing processes. Consequently, some slowing of employment growth has taken place in recent years because the number of woodworkers needed to produce a finished product has been reduced.
Future demand will increase for woodworkers with specialized skills and an understanding of the automated process of design and construction that now dominates the production aspect of the industry. Workers who possess the skills to use CNC machine tools will have great opportunities for employment. Specialized skills like this can be obtained through on-site training programs and work experience.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Many woodworkers gain the majority of their skills through on the job training. Employers generally look for applicants with a high school level education. There are some tech and vocational schools and community colleges which also offer courses in woodworking. Students can focus their training in specific areas such as furniture manufacturing, engineering and management. As the technological aspects of the woodworking profession increase, those interested in making woodworking their career choice should avail themselves every opportunity possible to increase their knowledge and skill set.
Most of a woodworkers training takes place on the job. Other experienced workers show them how to perform all the necessary skills to perform their work correctly. They start with simple tasks until they gain enough experience to move toward more complex tasks with less supervision. It often takes three or more years to acquire the experience and knowledge to become a truly skilled woodworker. As workers gain more seniority over a period of time opportunities for promotion and advancement will come.
Certifications for woodworkers come primarily through the formal training they receive during the various stages of their career. There are vocational schools and colleges which issue certifications in woodworking for students after they complete the required course work and training programs.
There are dozens of associations and organizations around the country and throughout the world that pertain to the woodworking industry. Some of the associations focus on one particular aspect of the woodworking profession. The organizations give woodworks the opportunity to enhance their education through interaction with other professionals in their industry. Special seminars and other social conferences allow woodworking professionals to establish business connections with others in the industry. Dozens of states in the country have associations and clubs that pertain to various aspects of the woodworking profession.