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 £16,000 a year. Experienced upholsterers can earn between £20,000 and £35,000 a year. 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.
Workforce Employment Status
LMI data powered by LMI for All
- 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 a National Certificate (NC), National Qualification (NQ), Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND). 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.
- You could also start out by taking a short course at college. City of Glasgow College offers relevant courses, including Furniture Restoring: Upholstery. This could help you build up the necessary experience for entry to a full time course.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
LMI data powered by EMSI UK
Job Outlook Scotland
Job Outlook Scotland and UK
LMI data powered by EMSI UK
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.
- There are SVQs in Modern Upholstery at SCQF Levels 5 and 6, which you could complete as part of the Modern Apprenticeship in Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors.
- 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
- work with antique dealers or furniture restorers
- work with interior designers
- teach your skills in college
- start your own business.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Was this article useful?
Please help us improve Planit by rating this article.