How to Become a Woodworker:
The Definitive Guide

People who are good with their hands and enjoy making objects from lumber and wood materials will have a great time with a career as a Woodworker.

A Woodworker has the important task of creating and assembling products such as cabinets, furniture, and even musical instruments from pieces of wood.

This can be quite an intricate field, and you’ll need practice and expertise to become successful.

However, with experience and dedication, it is possible to enjoy your career as a Woodworker for many years.

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Job Description

If you have ever done home improvements or wanted a custom piece of furniture, you likely sought out a Woodworker.

Woodworkers are responsible for taking mass-produced pieces of wood and turning them into objects that you can place in your home or business.


Throughout the day, a Woodworker may have many projects to work on, and they may also find themselves:

  • Reading blueprints
  • Planning out cuts
  • Preparing materials
  • Using machinery
  • Completing and assembling products
  • Keeping equipment in working order
  • Taking calls from customers
  • Speaking with customers about needs


On average in the United States, a Woodworker makes about $18.94 an hour, which adds up to $39,390 each year.

With experience and know-how in the business, it is possible to make as much as $29 an hour for a total yearly salary of $60,320.

Some Woodworkers are just beginning their career and will likely see their wages closer to $10 an hour to begin.

This comes out to $20,800 as a newly appointed Woodworker.

Certification and specialization may make it possible for you to earn more in salary as you continue your career.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $40,070


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$44,790
New Jersey$48,380
New Mexico$36,100
New York$44,870
North Carolina$35,300
North Dakota$41,340
Rhode Island$45,180
South Carolina$38,440
South Dakota$34,310
West Virginia$33,590
Puerto Rico$21,340

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $53,060.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $53,060
Hawaii - $52,660
Connecticut - $49,080
New Jersey - $48,380
Rhode Island - $45,180
*Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become: Step-by-Step

Step 1Complete High School

In your journey to becoming a Woodworker, you’ll want to have a high school diploma or GED.

High school can take four years to finish while you are a teenager, and then you will be prepared for entry-level roles.

Those who are over the age of 18 and do not have a high school diploma can complete a GED, which can take about six months to a year to finish, depending on how much time you put into it.

While in high school, consider taking woodworking classes or shop classes to get familiar with machinery and techniques.

You could also intern or seek out an apprenticeship through your school.

Step 2Consider an Apprenticeship

While you are in school or right after you graduate, you may want to consider completing an apprenticeship with a local Woodworker.

You could also complete courses through a vocational program, which will give you hands-on experience.

Programs can last anywhere from six months to several years, depending on the type of education you pursue.

During your apprenticeship, you will work with skilled Woodworkers to learn the ropes and have knowledge only experience can give you.

Some of the knowledge that you will learn is technical aspects of working with wood, how to read blueprints, and using machines.

At this time, you could even become a certified journeyman with enough experience.

Step 3Find a Specialization

Once you have a couple of years of experience in an apprenticeship, you may be ready to consider what type of Woodworker you’d like to be.

There are several ways that you can find your niche as a Woodworker, such as:

  • Cabinetry
  • Furniture Finishing
  • Machine setting
  • Furniture making
  • Wood machinist
  • Boat builder

There are different needs and job outlooks for each of these specializations, and some may even require certification, so look into that before considering any of these.

Having a specialization can take years of experience and understanding of the world of woodworking.

You shouldn’t expect to go right into that niche out of the gate, you’ll have to obtain experience and work with people in that area.

Step 4Continue Education

Those who didn’t choose to complete a vocational program may want to consider doing so now.

After you have experience as a Woodworker, you’re ready to succeed in other areas of life, such as education.

Check in your area for woodworking schools that will provide hands-on experience, classroom time, and knowledge from senior Woodworkers.

You’ll want to make sure that the program you choose is accredited, and typically you will want an in-person learning environment.

It can take anywhere from six months to several years to complete your education as a Woodworker.

In that time, you will gain access to the machines where you will be able to complete projects to showcase your talents.

Step 5Become Certified

Finally, you have been a valuable asset to your employer and are ready to become certified.

There are plenty of great certifications throughout the United States, so you will want to make sure the one you choose is accredited.

Consider the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America or the Architectural Woodwork Institute for your certification.

At the Architectural Woodwork Institute, you can earn the QCP license which shows architects that they can trust you and your work.

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers Core Credential as well as the Sawblade Credential, two trusted areas to show your knowledge.


The first step on your educational journey to become a Woodworker is to complete a high school diploma.

This will be done during your teenage years and while you are in school, consider completing shop classes or woodworking classes to be a step ahead.

These types of classes can help you when you are ready to seek an apprenticeship upon graduation.

While you are still in school, you may be able to find an internship or apprenticeship to kickstart your career.

If you are over the age of 18 and do not have a high school diploma, you may want to consider a GED which is another way of earning this credential.

After graduation, an apprenticeship may be all you need to educate yourself for now.

This will get you into entry-level positions as a Woodworker and provide you with hands-on knowledge.

While hands-on experience with a seasoned Woodworker may be the best angle for education, you could also start a six-month to several year long vocational school program.

Find one near you through a community college so that you can have an in-person experience.

While in the Woodworker program, you’ll learn how to speak with clients, the math skills needed to woodwork, how machines operate, and much more.

A program can be done while you are working or before you have even stepped foot in a wood shop.

Some classes you could find online that are free, but you may want to already have equipment available to you so that you can learn through doing.

Classes should teach you important woodworking knowledge such as:

  • How to use a jointer, planer, and table saw
  • Turning woodworking bowls
  • Finishing wood
  • Band saw basics
  • Cabinet building
  • Router operations

This may be a great time to consider which specialization you are planning to go into so you can focus your education on one area.

Video About The Career

Licensing & Certification

After completing a couple of years of job experience, it’s time to consider becoming certified as a Woodworker.

Certification can come from several places, including the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America or the Architectural Woodwork Institute among many others.

Ensure that the association in which you earn your certification is accredited.

With the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America, you can earn the Core Credential, or Sawblade Credential, as well as a plethora of color credentials from green to diamond.

The Core Credential requires that you have at least 120 hours of experience as well as completion of an exam.

With the Sawblade Credential, you’ll need to complete an exam that will recognize your experience.

Perfect for a high school Woodworker, the Sawblade Credential is a first step toward certifications like the Diamond Credential.

The Diamond Credential requires 6,400 experience hours and creating a project to show.

Through the Architectural Woodwork Institute, you’ll be happy to know you can earn the QCP, which stands for The Quality Certification Program, licensure.

This certification showcases your precision, time, and expertise as a Woodworker.

As a QCP-licensed Woodworker, you’ll be able to work with top architects on projects all around the world.

To complete this licensure, you’ll need to work through a rigorous exam which includes an assessment of your woodworking skills as well as a written portion.

With licensure, you’ll gain credibility in the field as well as find higher-value projects to work on.

It will cost about $2,000 to complete this licensing, and you will need to recertify every year for a fee of $1,000.

In your state, finding other ways to earn certification may be possible, including becoming a certified journeyman.

You will need on-the-job experience and an apprenticeship to sit for the journeyman exam.

Average Training Program Duration: 6-12 Months

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Job Outlook

There is likely to be little to no change in the career of a Woodworker in the next ten years.

This is due to the economy slowing down, however, it is still likely that you will find good quality careers in this field.

Over the next decade, the need for Woodworkers will stay the same in most areas.

Expect to see over 20,000 new Woodworker job openings happening each year, which results from retiring Woodworkers and even those who change careers.

If you want to have the most probability of becoming a Woodworker, consider specializing in certain areas or niches.

Employment Growth Projection: -2%


That's a higher than average projected growth of -2,001 jobs.

Woodworker: Interest Over Time

Should You Become a Woodworker?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

Woodworkers find their job to be meaningful and helpful to people who need wood material expertise.

This is a satisfying job for most, especially when they can use their skills and personality to make people’s homes brighter.

The work/life balance of a Woodworker is quite satisfactory as well.

However, many Woodworkers believe that they could make more in this field.

Average Salary: Medium

Average Salary

The average Woodworker in the United States will make close to $18.94 an hour in most states.

With this hourly salary, the yearly wages for a Woodworker on average are $39,390.

When just beginning this career, expect to make closer to $10 an hour, which will be a yearly salary of $20,800.

After many years of work experience as a Woodworker, you can have a higher salary, closer to $29 an hour.

At this rate, your yearly salary will look more like $60,320.

Job Growth Outlook: Low

Job Growth Outlook

The outlook for a Woodworker is likely to stay the same over the next decade.

This can be due to several reasons, including the rising price of wood and the economy.

Those who find job openings in their area can assume that this is due to retirements or people leaving the field.

While there won’t be much difference in growth over the next ten years, there will still be a need for Woodworkers.

Education Duration: 6-12 Months

Education Duration

As long as you have an understanding of machinery and how to work with wood, all you need to become a Woodworker is a high school diploma.

This takes about four years when you are a teenager to complete.

However, it is possible to earn a GED as an adult, which can take anywhere from six months to a year depending on how much effort you put into it.

Once you graduate high school, you can apprentice as a Woodworker or take woodworking classes that can take several months to complete.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

It takes a talented and intricately detailed person to work as a Woodworker.

There are many facets to this career, including having skills such as:

  • Math
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Knowledge of mechanics
  • Dexterity
  • Attention to detail
  • Power tool knowledge
  • Ability to speak with customers
  • Time management
  • Carpentry

Depending on which type of woodworking you do, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of physics, trigonometry, geometry, and much more to be a success in this field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long do you have to go to school to become a Woodworker?

The great thing about having a career as a Woodworker is that you can start fresh out of high school.

As long as you have a GED or high school diploma, you can find a career as a Woodworker.

There may be some employers who require classes or apprenticeships before you begin working, but this could result in on-the-job training while getting paid.

Q. How much money does a Woodworker make a year?

A Woodworker can make a decent salary with years of experience.

The majority of Woodworkers make about $18.94 an hour, which adds up to $39,390 each year.

With experience and specialization, you could make over $29 an hour in some areas.

This means that yearly, your salary as a Woodworker could be closer to $60,320.

Don’t expect this much salary as a new Woodworker, as the starting wages in this career are $10.

Q. What kind of education do you need to be a Woodworker?

To gain access to entry-level woodworking jobs, you’ll need to have a GED or high school diploma.

This will take about four years for the diploma and anywhere from six months to a year for a GED.

It may be required to take on some courses to learn woodworking if you have no experience, which can take anywhere from six months to two years.

All in all, you could start your job as a Woodworker right out of high school with no experience or complete courses and within a year have a steady, full-time job.

Q. Are Woodworkers in high demand?

With the creation of new businesses, homes, and the need for furniture and other wooden products, there will always be a need for Woodworkers.

However, this doesn’t mean that there will be a steady growth in the necessity of this career.

Over the next ten years, expect the demand for Woodworkers to stay the same.

You’ll still be able to find a quality career in this field with retirement.

Q. What skills do you need to have to be Woodworker?

As a Woodworker, you’ll be working with clients who may have specific needs and wants.

This is why it is important to have good communication skills and understand people.

Along with that, you’ll need an understanding of math, physics, and angles to fulfill orders.

Plus, you’ll need to be detail-oriented and have good time management to succeed in this career.

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