Cabinetmaker: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for cabinetmakers. Get the facts about education, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Furniture & Cabinet Maker degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Cabinetmaker?

A cabinetmaker is a tradesperson skilled in carpentry who builds and repairs storage enclosures for use in kitchens, bathrooms and other locations. While they mainly work with wood, they may also combine materials like laminate and veneer when creating cabinets. Cabinetmakers must have an ability to create and read precise designs, operate woodworking machinery, and work with clients to understand what they want in their cabinets. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a cabinetmaker.

Degree Required High school diploma
Job Duties Read blueprints; cut wood; shape, assemble and install cabinets; design cabinets
Certification Professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) -1%*
Median Salary (2015) $32,270 (for cabinetmakers and bench carpenters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is a Cabinetmaker?

Cabinetmakers have skills like reading blueprints, cutting wood precisely and painting. They also do repair work. A cabinetmaker builds cabinets that are usually made of wood or wood composites. The cabinets may be assembled from existing blueprints or designed from scratch by the cabinetmaker.

The sequence of steps you go through when building a cabinet might include reading design blueprints; measuring, cutting and sanding wood according to specifications; joining pieces with glue, fasteners, dovetail joints and groove joints; attaching door hardware and doors; painting, varnishing or applying other decoration; and hanging finished product in designated space. Repair duties can include filling cracks, replacing broken hardware or refinishing a blemished surface.

Where Could I Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), furniture and kitchen cabinetmakers are the leading employer of cabinetmakers, followed by office furniture makers (www.bls.gov). Your other career options include general wood product manufacturers, building finish contractors and building materials suppliers. BLS figures show that in 2014 approximately 98,100 people were employed as cabinetmakers and bench carpenters, which is projected to rise to 99,300 by 2024. As of 2015, these workers earned a median annual salary of $32,270.

What Education or Training Is Available to Me?

You could study cabinetmaking in high school if your school offers a program, train on the job through an apprenticeship, or complete a diploma, certificate or associate's degree program at a community college or vocational school. Many high school programs are broad in scope, covering both carpentry and cabinetmaking. Apprenticeships and postsecondary certificate or diploma programs are more focused on cabinetmaking. Associate's degree programs may be broad or focused.

Content specific to cabinetmaking is similar across each type of program. Classroom instruction supplements hands-on interaction with wood, hand tools and power tools in a shop setting. You can expect to learn project planning, cutting and joining techniques, cabinet installation, shop safety and other topics. Diploma and certificate programs are typically completed in one year, associate's degrees in two years and apprenticeships in four years.

What Certifications Can I Earn?

The Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) offers a Basic CMA certification and a Master CMA Certification for members of the organization. The Basic CMA exam tests your knowledge in several areas including business practices, design, measuring, machinery and safety. You need two years of industry experience to be eligible. Master CMA certification requires five years of industry experience. The master exam covers the same content as the basic exam and adds software, tools and green manufacturing techniques.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other hands-on professions may be suitable for individuals interested in cabinetmaking. General carpentry may be a good path for those who are interested in general home repair as well as furniture design beyond cabinetry. Careers in ironworking and sheet metal working involve a different type of material but still require an affinity for hands-on work and design.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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