A high school diploma is typically required to become a woodworker. Although some entry-level jobs can be learned in less than 1 year, becoming fully proficient generally takes at least 3 years of on-the-job training. The ability to use computer-controlled machinery is becoming increasingly important.
Because of the growing sophistication of machinery, many employers are seeking applicants who have a high school diploma or the equivalent. People seeking woodworking jobs can enhance their employment prospects by completing high school and getting training in computer applications and math.
Some woodworkers obtain their skills by taking courses at technical schools or community colleges. Others attend universities that offer training in wood technology, furniture manufacturing, wood engineering, and production management. These programs prepare students for jobs in production, supervision, engineering, and management, and are becoming increasingly important as woodworking technology advances.
Education is helpful, but woodworkers are trained primarily on the job, where they learn skills from experienced workers. Beginning workers are given basic tasks, such as placing a piece of wood through a machine and stacking the finished product at the end of the process.
As they gain experience, new woodworkers perform more complex tasks with less supervision. In about 1 year, they learn basic machine operations and job tasks. Becoming a skilled woodworker often takes 3 or more years. Skilled workers can read blueprints, set up machines, and plan work sequences.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although not required, becoming certified can demonstrate competence and professionalism. It also may help a candidate advance in the profession. The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) publishes product standards for the industry, and offers training programs for mid-management positions. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program, with five progressive credentials, which adds a level of credibility to the work of woodworkers.
Detail oriented. Woodworkers must pay attention to details in order to meet specifications and to keep themselves safe.
Dexterity. Woodworkers must make precise cuts with a variety of hand tools and power tools, so they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
Math skills. Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important, particularly for those who work in manufacturing, in which technology continues to advance. Woodworkers need to understand basic geometry to visualize how the wood pieces will fit together to fabricate a three-dimensional object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture.
Mechanical skills. The use of hand tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches, is required to set up, adjust, and calibrate machines. Modern technology systems require woodworkers to be able to use computers and other programmable devices.
Physical stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing and repetitious movements is crucial for woodworkers, who often stand all day performing many of the same functions.
Physical strength. Woodworkers must be strong enough to lift bulky and heavy pieces of wood.
Technical skills. Woodworkers must be able to understand and interpret design drawings and technical manuals for a range of products and machines.