Carving out your career as a woodworker

Wood has been used since the beginning of time because it is generally less expensive than other materials and its characteristics are applicable to many uses, from fuel to housing to furniture to art. The demand for wood products continues to rise due to a number of factors including, the growth of the housing market to accommodate the population boom as well as increasing consumer demand for fine wood products.

As a result, skilled woodworkers are needed to fulfill market and consumer requirements across a number of trades from construction to general carpentry to fine arts. Outlook for students who wish to pursue a career as a woodworker is positive. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics states that jobs for woodworkers are projected to grow to approximately 8 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Is woodworking the right career path for you?

• Do you enjoy taking shop classes at school and perform well in them?
• Is wood the preferred material you use for your projects?
• Is quality craftsmanship one of the first things you think of when you purchase an object?
• Do construction projects interest you?
• Are you interested in the field of industrial design?

If any of the questions above describes you, then you should consider looking into training and educational requirements to become a woodworker. There are a number of colleges throughout the U.S. that offer post-secondary programs in this field.

Here are the types of post-secondary programs available for woodworking:

• Bachelor degree programs: These four-year college programs are geared towards students who wish to pursue a career in woodworking related to art and design.
• Certificate/Associate degree programs: These programs are also offered at colleges, but they more technical in nature and are focused more on the technology involved in construction and manufacturing of wood products. These classes tend to be more hands-on and designed for students pursuing a career in carpentry, cabinet making, millwork, as well as product manufacturing.
• Apprenticeships: Some states offer apprenticeship programs specifically for trades in woodworking such as cabinet making. Apprentices have the opportunity to fine-tune their skills under the direction and instruction of industry experts. These programs include specified hours of on-the-job training as well as paid and unpaid related instruction.2

Woodworking is more than just chiseling figurines with hand tools. There are many career options available for woodworking students spanning across a number of industries, including:

• Artists and designers
• Carpenters
• Machinists (in wood manufacturing facilities)
• Musical instrument craftsmen
• Construction managers

Woodworking can provide a very rewarding career if this is an area in which you are interested. Whether you decide to embark on the art and design or the technical path of woodworking, it is important that you research on which area interests you the most as well as the training involved before you submit your school applications.

For more information on post-secondary programs in woodworking, it is best to contact the schools directly. Your high school counselor may also be able to help direct you to the right resources.

References:
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labour Statistics. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/woodworkers.htm
2 State of Wisconsin. Department of Workforce Development. http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/apprenticeship/trades/carpentry_cabinetmaker.htm

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