Woodworkers: Salary Overview
Woodworkers manufacture furniture, cabinets, and other products using mostly wood.
A woodworker’s job description typically includes, among other things, reading detailed architectural drawings, blueprints, and schematics, preparing and setting up machines and tools, lifting wood pieces, operating woodworking machinery, and ensuring that the finished products meet industry standards.
Depending on the type of products they manufacture, woodworkers have different specializations.
Cabinetmakers usually create sets of cabinets according to specifications.
Furniture finishers shape, and refinish worn furniture, including antique furniture.
Wood sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders specialize in operating specific machinery.
Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, operate woodworking machinery such as lathes, sanders, and drill presses.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for woodworkers was $32,690 in May 2019 which means that half the workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the woodworker’s specialty, level of skills and experience but also based on the local market and economy.
The top 10 percent earned more than $50,070 per year while the lowest 10 percent of woodworkers made less than $22,310 per year.
Woodworker Salary by Specialty
Woodworkers held approximately 272,200 jobs in 2018, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of them (115,900) specializing in cabinetmaking.
Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, held approximately 80,500 jobs in 2018 while sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders held about 54,600 jobs.
Furniture finishers held approximately 21,200 jobs in the United States in 2018.
According to the report published by BLS, cabinetmakers and bench carpenters made a median annual wage of $35,790 while sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders made around $30,410, a year.
The median annual salary earned by furniture finishers was $32,480 while woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, made $30,990, on average, a year.
Salaries vary, not only based on the woodworker’s specialty but also based on his/her experience in practicing that specific trade.
For example, the lowest 10 percent of all cabinet makers made less than $22,830 per year while the top 10 percent made more than $54,140 per year.
Woodworker Salary by Industry
The biggest employers for woodworkers were furniture and related product manufacturers and wood product manufacturers.
Approximately 7 percent of all woodworkers were self-employed and 3 percent of them worked for specialty trade contractors.
In May 2019, the median annual wage reported by woodworkers who were employed by specialty trade contractors was $37,980.
Furniture and related product manufacturers offered a median annual wage for this profession of $34,290.
The median annual wage for woodworkers employed by wood product manufacturers was $30,730 as of May 2019.
Industries that offer annual salaries higher than the average for this profession include the federal executive branch, aerospace product, and parts manufacturers and professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.
However, woodworkers held only a few jobs in these fields, and competition for job openings in these sectors is expected to be especially strong.
The federal executive branch, for example, hired only 220 cabinetmakers and bench carpenters and paid them, on average, with $54,880.
Employment opportunities also vary depending on the woodworker’s specialty.
For example, the demand for cabinetmakers and bench carpenters is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028 while the demand for woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, is expected to decline by 1 percent.
This is caused, in part, by the fact that more companies and manufacturers rely on computer numerical controlled machines and need only a few employees to operate them.
Therefore, having experience with CNC machines should improve your job prospects and increase your earnings.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Woodworkers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.