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
- making cushions and adding trimmings such as piping and fringing
- 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 £12,500 to £16,000 a year. Experienced upholsterers can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 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 collect and deliver furniture.
Workforce Employment Status
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- 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)
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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.
- 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.
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