An upholsterer covers furniture frames with padding and fabric or leather to make beds, mattresses, chairs, sofas and the seats of cars, buses and trains.
You could be:
planning the job with your client and estimating costs
measuring the furniture frame and preparing patterns
cutting out the fabric to pattern
fixing webbing and springs into seats
covering frames with padding and fabric using sewing machines, stitches, staples, tacks and glue
using decorative techniques such as fringing, piping and buttoning
renovating and re-upholstering old furniture
making up patterns for manufacturing and samples for trade shows
visiting customers to check possible faulty items and carrying out repairs.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting pay is usually around £18,000 a year. Experienced upholsterers can earn between £23,000 and £35,000 a year, or more. However if you make it into the expensive specialist markets such as one-offs in luxurious fabrics, then you can earn much more.
You might work at home or in a studio, workshop or factory.
Factories or workshops are often noisy and dusty.
You might do the work by hand or by using machinery.
You may have to work overtime to complete orders on time.
You would wear a face mask and ear protectors. You may also have to wear protective clothing.
You have to bend and stretch and may also have to lift heavy weights.
You may visit clients’ houses to give estimates and fix or collect and deliver furniture.
You may get direct entry to a job through a training scheme such as a Modern Apprenticeship.
You might do a full time college course in subjects such as furniture craftsmanship, furniture restoration or furniture construction and design. You could do an NC or NQ (SCQF Levels 4-6), HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8).
Entry to NC or NQ courses vary from no formal qualifications to 2-4 subjects at National 4 or 5. For entry to HNC or HND courses you need 1 or 2 Highers.
City of Glasgow College offer various courses at NC, NQ, HNC and HND level.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
good at working with your hands
accurate and able to pay attention to detail
good at taking measurements and doing calculations
good at judging colours and shapes
able to work quickly and carefully
business minded if you are self-employed.
Training may be on the job through the employer’s training scheme.
You may be able to do day release classes at college.
Short courses are available at a number of places approved by the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers.
With experience and qualifications you may go on to:
a management post with a company that makes furniture