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Carpentry is one of those skills that has been around for thousands of years, and even though the world becomes more computerized each day, carpentry will never be a career of the past. One special craft that uses carpentry is cabinetmaking.

Cabinetmakers build and repair custom or production-type fixtures and furniture made of wood or wood substitutes. Working for furniture manufacturing and repair companies, construction companies and cabinetmaking contractors, as well as for themselves, cabinetmakers work to create functional masterpieces from art. They make custom cabinets, original creations like personalized cribs or dining room furniture for clients with a vision, as well as generic cabinets for those people who just want somewhere to keep their dishes. A cabinetmaker can be extraordinarily creative, or no-nonsense about a job; each job is different, just like each client or home.

Cabinetmakers work from blueprints, arranging for the materials, work sequence and measurements. They cut and shape all materials to be used, endeavoring to avoid costly mistakes or dangerous miscalculations. And they put it all together, in tight, accurate and safe ways.

Cabinetmakers are special. Not everyone has what it takes to work with wood in such a way. It requires grand scope of vision, as well as the ability to do fine, precise work. It is creative as well as logical, and it's a craft that is not going anywhere anytime soon.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
To be successful at their jobs, cabinetmakers should be strong, with enough stamina to stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time. They should have good manual dexterity, good eyesight, and be able to visualize a finished product from drawings, blueprints or other specifications. They should be able to solve arithmetic problems quickly and accurately, as well as be able to get along well with others on a work team. They should also be prepared to work in solitude. Cabinetmakers need to be creative, and enjoy working with their hands.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Discuss projects with customers or supervisor
  • Estimate costs
  • May use computers to develop models
  • Create or follow others' specifications and drawings
  • Make layouts and patterns
  • Cut, shape mould and assemble components of wood and wood substitutes
  • Sand surfaces
  • Apply veneer, stain, polish or laminates to finished surfaces.
  • Install retail or residential cabinetry.
  • Review building codes
  • Check completed units to be sure they are the right size and in the right location
  • Supervise assistants
  • Cabinetmakers take on a lot of tasks. They work within new homes, building-in cabinets, as well as working on custom cabinets in their shops. They are required to use creativity, strength, manual dexterity and patience. They rarely get to work outdoors, and travel within their community for different jobs.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Cabinetmakers work for construction companies, carpentry contractors, interior design firms and in custom shops. They may also be self-employed. Cabinetmakers work indoors, in a shop environment. They are exposed to a high noise level, some airborne sawdust and chemicals from painting and stripping. There is some risk of injury involved in working with high-speed woodworking machinery.
  • They often work alone, but sometimes work in teams. They may work long hours, especially if trying to meet a deadline. They can set their own hours if they work independently.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Cabinetmakers may advance to foreperson and construction superintendent position, or may decide to open up their own custom carpentry company. Some may transfer their skills to related occupations such as industrial or commercial carpentry, or lather-interior systems mechanic. Others may teach cabinetmaking, or write books about it. Some may even train to become architects.

  Educational Paths  
Cabinetmakers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all places to become a cabinetmaker, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50% less than what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the cabinetmaker a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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