How to Become a Cabinet Maker:
The Definitive Guide


Every home has cabinets, but did you ever think about where they came from?

Someone had to make them, of course.

That someone could be you!

If you like to work with your hands, build things, and have an eye for detail, then the life of a Cabinet Maker could be yours.

Construction jobs can be hard, so having stamina and precision is great for this career.


What is a Cabinet Maker?

There are tons of places that need cabinets, homes, schools, offices, hotels, the list goes on.

A Cabinet Maker is the person to call when you need a new look or new cabinetry.

As a Cabinet Maker, you will need to be familiar with construction materials like wood, screws, hinges, saws, and much more

You’ll also need to be skilled with your hands, as a Cabinet Maker works hard to keep their work symmetrical.

Along with crafting cabinets, a Cabinet Maker might install, repair, and even paint or design new ones.

Duties

Not only does a Cabinet Maker actually build cabinets, but they also do many other jobs.

Some of the things that a Cabinet Maker might have to do on a typical day include:

  • Check the quality of pieces of cabinetry
  • Measure and mark dimensions
  • Set up and operate machines
  • Estimate amount, types, and costs of materials
  • Perform touchups
  • Stain or paint cabinetry
  • Program computers
  • Draw up detailed specifications

Salary

Most Cabinet Makers in the United States will make around $37,000 a year.

Cabinetry doesn’t require any further education, so those who don’t have certification or other credentials typically make less.

For those with certifications, specializations, and experience, the salary can be around the $55,000 a year range.

However, when just starting out as a Cabinet Maker, most people tend to make around $23,000 a year.

Having hands-on experience in the field, and getting into the action of the construction of the cabinets, is what will get you far in this career.

The farther you go, the more money you can possibly earn.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $37,620

$23K
$28K
$37K
$44K
$55K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$29,420
Alaska$43,270
Arizona$41,680
Arkansas$29,630
California$39,110
Colorado$37,970
Connecticut$47,340
Delaware$40,360
Florida$37,920
Georgia$38,110
Hawaii$51,950
Idaho$36,240
Illinois$41,640
Indiana$35,160
Iowa$41,280
Kansas$35,140
Kentucky$31,700
Louisiana$30,710
Maine$40,020
Maryland$46,030
Massachusetts$46,210
Michigan$39,880
Minnesota$41,760
Mississippi$27,560
Missouri$35,000
Montana$38,390
Nebraska$38,180
Nevada$39,020
New Hampshire$45,620
New Jersey$46,190
New Mexico$35,940
New York$45,320
North Carolina$31,200
North Dakota$39,220
Ohio$37,270
Oklahoma$33,450
Oregon$39,650
Pennsylvania$39,710
Rhode Island$44,540
South Carolina$37,580
South Dakota$33,210
Tennessee$32,570
Texas$31,840
Utah$34,260
Vermont$39,160
Virginia$37,470
Washington$42,820
West Virginia$34,470
Wisconsin$34,390
Wyoming$40,320
Puerto Rico$20,490

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Hawaii, where the average salary is $51,950.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Hawaii - $51,950
Connecticut - $47,340
Massachusetts - $46,210
New Jersey - $46,190
Maryland - $46,030
*Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Cabinet Maker

Step 1Get Training

The main component of a job as a Cabinet Maker is having hands-on experience.

There are a few ways that you can receive training in order to learn cabinetry and the construction business.

First, you can enroll in a program at a community college or technical school.

Some Cabinet Maker training programs can take up to four years to complete, such as the Cabinet Maker Apprentice Program from the Carpenters Training Institute.

There are many other training programs to be found online and at your local community college, some may take one to two years to finish.

This may earn you an Associate’s degree, or another certificate equivalent.

Another way to learn how to be a Cabinet Maker is to build cabinets.

It sounds strange to gain experience before you can get a job, but if you are interested in construction and cabinet making, then spend some time on your own learning the tricks of the trade.

Having hands-on knowledge will gain you clients, as well as show employers that you are competent in the field.

Step 2Gain Experience

Once you’ve figured out the mechanics of building cabinets, and you have some education under your wing, you should start thinking about becoming employed.

It’s possible to work independently building cabinets for customers, but in this day and age, it’s hard to find clients right off the bat.

The best idea is to become employed by a construction company, or a cabinetry company to gain more experience as well as insight into the industry.

Gaining experience can mean reading books, working on projects at home, and even helping family members build their cabinets.

Trade schools and technical colleges often give their students internships or externships at local businesses to learn the job.

If you are in a program or are thinking about enrolling, this may be one of the important factors to look into.

When a school provides on the job training, students are much more successful in their subsequent careers.

Step 3Become Certified

It can take around four years to gain enough experience and education to become a journeyman Cabinet Maker.

Once this level of experience has been completed, many Cabinet Makers want more from their careers.

That is why they earn certifications or specializations in cabinetry in order to gain more clientele and define their own niche.

Earning a certification is completely voluntary, however, many employers, clients, and Cabinet Makers agree that being certified gives you an edge over the competition.

Two associations that provide the perfect certifications for a Cabinet Maker are:

  • Architectural Woodwork Institute
  • Woodwork Career Alliance of North America

The Architectural Woodwork Institute offers the Quality Woodwork Certification, which is only available to woodworking companies and not individuals.

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America has the WCA Credential, which showcases your education and work levels.

Step 4Continue Growing Your Career

The career of a Cabinet Maker doesn’t have to end at being a journeyman.

There are several steps to take in order to gain promotions and raises in this career.

Taking a leadership role as a Foreman on a construction crew will help you earn more money and succeed.

Once you have successfully proven your knowledge of the field of cabinetry, you can continue your education by taking courses on:

  • Solid Surfaces
  • OSHA
  • First Aid
  • Sanding and Finishing
  • Door Handles

After several years of experience as a Foreman and even as a Project Manager in some cases, you may want to start thinking about creating your very own business.

This could lead to much more money and job opportunities.


Education

There is no right or wrong way to earn an education when you have the desire to become a Cabinet Maker.

Many people decide that they want to gain experience through hands-on training with a construction company.

Others focus on gaining a formal education through a community college or trade school, often earning an Associate’s degree in the process.

Whichever path you take, you can have a successful career as a Cabinet Maker.

One of the programs, given by the Carpenters Training Institute, the Cabinet Maker Apprenticeship Program takes about four years to finish.

The courses that you can expect to take in this program include:

  • OSHA, Financial Planning
  • Machine Safety
  • Table Saw
  • Machine Woodworking
  • Interior Trim
  • European Cabinetry

Along with being enrolled in the program, having hands-on experience will get you far in this career.

Hands-on experience shows clients and employers that you have the know-how in the field, which will provide extra promotions and raises in the long run.

If you decide that you’d like to work toward an Associate’s degree, there are some programs that community colleges or trade schools provide as well.

An Associate’s degree can take about two years to finish for full-time students.

Some of the classes that you can expect in a Cabinet Maker program are:

  • Fundamentals of Building Construction
  • Building Codes
  • Cabinet Making Basics
  • Technical Drafting
  • Mill Working
  • Structural Elements

Along with classroom time, it is expected that a Cabinet Maker program provides hands-on training as well.

If you are still not interested in earning an Associate’s degree, maybe it’s time to think about working an apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is often referred to as an internship in other fields, but this experience can take around 5 years to finish-leading to a career as a Journeyman in Cabinet Making.

Some online colleges even offer one-year programs that can lead to an Associate’s degree.

These programs have courses like:

  • Material Selection
  • Assembly and Manufacturing
  • Machinery and Methods
  • Wood Finishing Techniques

Whichever path you follow toward becoming a Cabinet Maker, continue your education and you should succeed in this career.

Video About The Career


Certification

Carpentry and cabinetry are very specialized fields, so it’s hard to come by a well-accredited certification for them.

There are a couple of certifications that will provide an accredited credential for Cabinet Makers.

The first certification program is for businesses or companies, so if you own a business or work for a company check with your boss and see if this certification is right for you.

This certification program is the Quality Certification Program.

There are a variety of certifications that can be earned within this program.

These certifications are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Finishing
  • Installation

Or a combination of any or all three.

In order to be eligible for these certifications, the applicants (which would be you if you are the business owner, or your boss if you work for someone else, as well as everyone else who works in the company) must demonstrate their knowledge in each of the areas.

Everyone who wants to be certified must also take an exam, and the 10 references must be supplied as well.

These certifications are good for two years, and after that, the test must be retaken.

The other certification is from the Woodwork Career Alliance of America.

This certification has different levels, but the certification is called WCA Woodwork Professional certification.

The levels go from Green- with 30 skill points and 800 experience hours in a program to Diamond- over 240 skill points and 6,400 experience hours

The other levels are Blue- 60 skill points and 1600 experience hours

Red- 120 skill points and 3,200 experience hours

Gold- 180 skill points and 4,800 experience hours

Once you obtain this certification with all experience levels, you will be considered a Master Cabinet Maker.

It’s also possible to earn a Sawblade Certificate which can be obtained right out of high school.

This certification costs around $250 a year to maintain.

Certification Example:

cabinet maker certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 0-1 Year

The average training program to become a journeyman Cabinet Maker is around four years.

There are some training programs that can be done in a year, but you will learn entry-level cabinetry.

For those who are interested in making a career out of being a Cabinet Maker, a four-year program will be best.

This way, you will learn all of the tricks of the trade, and after you will be able to become certified as a Cabinet Maker.

These programs can be found online and at local community colleges around the country.

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook

Even though most people will need cabinetry in their lives at some point or another, there is likely to be no change in the demand for Cabinet Makers in the near future.

The cost of wood and the constant need to repair and renovate will keep Cabinet Makers in business.

However, the use of technology, other materials, and automation has made it a little bit more difficult to find job opportunities in some areas.

Cabinet Makers who have credentials, show leadership skills, and have excellent portfolios will make it far in this career.

The way to gain more opportunities is to continue working, ask family and friends to allow you to work on their cabinets for experience and inspiration.

Employment Growth Projection: 0%

115,900
2018
115,500
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of -400 jobs.

Cabinet Maker: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Cabinet Maker?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Overall Satisfaction

There are some mixed feelings about this career.

Many Cabinet Makers love their jobs and enjoy working with their hands to create beautiful pieces of work.

However, some feel that the job is stressful, and the hours are long.

The salary satisfaction is a bit split as well, many Cabinet Makers feel that they should make more money.

Those with more skills and abilities have higher satisfaction in this career than people who are just starting out.

This means that it is hard work in the beginning, but sticking it out will provide more promotions and raises once you get the hang of the career.

Average Salary: Medium

Average Salary

On average, a Cabinet Maker working in the United States will make around $37,000 a year.

However, those who work in higher populations, or places where the population has more money can make even more money at around $50,000 a year.

A Cabinet Maker who is just beginning his journey in this career will likely make about $25,000 to start.

With certification, experience, and a leadership attitude, this career can be very lucrative.

Having a custom look or a particular niche can boost a Cabinet Makers’ salary as well.

Job Growth Outlook: Low

Job Growth Outlook

It looks as though there will be little or no growth in this career over the next decade.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing because people still need cabinets for their homes, offices, schools, and other facilities.

The use of technology and automation has made it more difficult for Cabinet Makers to find job opportunities.

However, there are still many customers who want handmade crafts in their homes.

Even though there is not much growth in this area, the job opportunities should still be present especially for Cabinet Makers with credentials like certifications or specializations.

Education Duration: 0-1 Year

Education Duration

You don’t necessarily need a formal education in order to work as a Cabinet Maker.

Instead, what is suggested is a hands-on experience.

This means that you could start working with cabinets and other construction material today, however, you will likely shadow or intern at a company in order to learn the ins and outs of the field.

There are some technical programs that may be of interest to someone who does want a higher education.

Community colleges and technical schools may offer courses in cabinetry or other construction.

These types of programs can take anywhere from 6 weeks to around a year to complete.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Cabinetry is a construction career, which means a Cabinet Maker will need to have construction skills in order to succeed.

Along with the ability to use tools and build cabinets, a Cabinet Maker must also possess:

  • Creativity skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Math and spatial skills
  • Understanding of the principles of design
  • Accuracy skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to work independently or with a team
  • Stamina
  • No allergies to dust
  • Communication skills

These skills, along with knowledge of equipment and understanding of the construction field will help anyone interested in becoming a Cabinet Maker.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary for a Cabinet Maker?

On average, if you work as a Cabinet Maker in the United States you will make around $37,000 a year.

Now, for Cabinet Makers who have many years of experience are those who are certified, that salary can be around $55,000 or more a year.

If you are just starting your career as a Cabinet Maker, it is likely that you will make about $25,000 a year to begin.

Most clients and employers like their Cabinet Makers to have to experience in the field, so the more hands-on knowledge you have, the better the salary.

Q. How long does it take to become a Cabinet Maker?

It doesn’t take long to become a Cabinet Maker, in fact, you could start today if you wanted to.

That doesn’t mean anyone will hire you, though.

In order to be a good Cabinet Maker, you must have a little experience.

Most programs to learn cabinetry take anywhere from a couple of months to around four years to finish.

It’s crucial to gain hands-on experience in this field.

Q. What does a Cabinet Maker do?

A Cabinet Maker builds custom cabinets for clients who want new cabinetry in their homes or businesses.

Cabinets can be made from all types of materials, but mostly from wood.

Cabinet Makers can saw, cut, measure, install, repair, and stain cabinets to their customers liking.

There is a lot of math and geometry to this career, so having great math skills is a plus.

Q. What is the demand for Cabinet Makers?

There will always be a use for Cabinet Makers, however, there won’t be much growth in job opportunities over the next several years.

This is because of the use of automation and technology, often computers take less time to create cabinets than humans, which could decrease some job opportunities in certain areas.

However, there are plenty of customers who want custom hand-made cabinets, which will sustain career opportunities for Cabinet Makers all over the country.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Cabinet Maker?

If you plan to enroll in a program, it can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000 to become educated on Cabinet Making.

For those who want to start their own business, the cost can range from $1,200 to $2,500.

Certification can cost around $100 or more, depending on the type of certification.

All in all, it can cost anywhere from $150 to over $3,000 to become a Cabinet Maker.


Similar Careers

Leave a Comment

Find a Program
×