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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is measuring a piece of furniture.

    Measuring a box that a customer wants re-upholstered.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is standing in a workshop.  He is removing the foam from a chair.

    Upholsterers work on all kinds of furniture.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is looking at a cushion, which has been covered with grey fabric.

    You need to be a patient worker to be an upholsterer.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is cutting a piece of grey fabric, with scissors.

    Cutting out the fabric.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is talking to another man.  They are looking at a book of samples.

    Discussing, with a customer, which material to use.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is stapling the side of a cushion.

    Using a staple gun to attach upholstery to a cushion.

  • A man, wearing a white t-shirt, is looking at a cushion, which has been covered with grey fabric.

    Checking to see if the cushion is evenly covered.

  • A man is measuring a patterned piece of material.

    You'll need an eye for design as well as good practical skills to be an upholsterer.

  • Upholsterer

Upholsterer

Introduction

Production upholsterers work in factories and upholster new furniture. They often concentrate on one task, such as padding chair arms.

Craft upholsterers work on new furniture and do re-upholstery. Some upholsterers renovate antique furniture.

Also known as

  • Furniture Upholsterer

Video: - Kev: Upholsterer

Video: - Sharon: Upholsterer

Work Activities

As an Upholsterer, you will attach the padding and soft covers on to furniture, such as sofas, chairs and mattresses. There are two main types of Upholsterer: Production and Craft.

Production Upholsterers carry out skilled work in factories or workshops, upholstering new pieces of furniture. You use filling materials, like foam and polyester waddings. You attach the fillings to wooden and metal furniture frames to form padding for seats, backs and arms, as well as using them to stuff cushions.

To fix the upholstery to the frame, you will usually use a hand-held staple gun. Decorative trimmings, such as beading, will be attached with a hot glue gun.

Craft Upholsterers are highly skilled and are able to complete the full range of upholstery tasks. You may work on new furniture but also do re-upholstery. This can include repair work. Some Craft Upholsterers do contract work, for such as upholstering furniture in hotels and bars.

You have quite a lot of customer contact, which would involve giving advice, noting requirements and helping them to select fabrics.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Upholsterer, you will need:

  • practical craft skills
  • good vision and an eye for detail
  • to be a patient and accurate worker
  • number skills for calculating costs and measuring materials accurately
  • physical fitness, as some of your day will be spent moving items of furniture

This work may not suit you, if you have certain chest complaints or allergies because of the dust and fluff from some fabrics.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £18,500
  • With experience: £20,000 - £25,000

Hours of work

Upholsterers usually work around 39 hours, Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime.

Where could I work?

Employers include furniture manufacturers and traditional craft workshops.

Opportunities for Upholsterers occur in workshops and factories in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Upholsterers to work independently as self-employed Craftworkers.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Training

If you would like some training, the Ministry of Upholstery offer a business start-up course in modern upholstery. This 8-week course will allow you to learn all the techniques and skills needed to run your own business. Some examples of the skills and techniques you will learn include:

  • shallow buttoning
  • facings
  • cutting and applying foam
  • box cushions
  • fluting
  • pleating
  • piping
  • seats
  • applying backtack strip
  • fabric costings
  • fire regulations
  • sewing
  • webbing
  • measuring fabric and fabric guides
  • information about setting up a business

Check the website for dates and availability.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Practical skills gained in the clothing and textile industries using your hands, can be helpful.

Progression

It is very common for Upholsterers to become self-employed.

Within a company, progression could be to supervisory positions.

Qualifications

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Practical skills gained in the clothing and textile industries using your hands, can be helpful.

Courses

Many people enter this career following a Furniture, Furnishing and Interiors Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Statistics

  • 48% of people in occupations such as upholstering are self-employed.
  • 23% work part-time.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468

Email: learnersupport@cityandguilds.com

Website: www.cityandguilds.com

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Proskills UK

Skills for process and manufacturing industries

Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY

Tel: 01235 833844

Email: info@proskills.co.uk

Website: www.proskills.co.uk

Prospect4u

Careers in manufacturing

Website: www.prospect4u.co.uk

BLC Leather Technology Centre Ltd

Address: Kings Park Road, Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6JD

Tel: 01604 679999

Email: info@blcleathertech.com

Website: www.blcleathertech.com

Guild of Traditional Upholsterers

Address: 27 Cleevelands Avenue, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 4PY

Website: gtu.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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Welcome to Careers Wales

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