Drilling down to the curriculum: Courses required for woodworkers

Depending on which area you plan to specialize in woodworking, your courses may vary. For instance, a woodworking artist may have different courses from a construction manager. Below are some of the common courses found in the technical as well as the artistic streams of woodworking:

I. Common courses for carpenters (including cabinet makers) and construction managers:

• Carpentry and woodworking: These courses focus on wood construction skills and safety. Students learn about safety practices as well as common terminology used in the trade.1
• Building codes: These courses are generally required for construction managers who need to understand how regulations restrict building design and the materials used on the project in order to comply with safety and environmental regulations.
• Framing: Students develop skills and techniques in structural framing systems involved in a construction project. Frames are essential for the overall building structure, partitions, windows, roofing as well as doors. They also learn about the selection of materials, products and tools which best suit the different types of projects.1
• Interior and exterior finishes: These courses focus on the elements which comprise of a building’s interior and exterior finishes. Students learn installation and repair techniques, best practices on materials and tools used for different projects.
• Computer drafting and design: Students are required to learn to use the programs involved in drafting and design of construction projects. They are also required to understand how to read blueprints in order to understand the project’s foundation and the installations required.
• Applied math: In order to understand the amount of materials and costs involved in the project, students need to have an understanding of the basic mathematics used for construction projects.

II. Common courses for Artists and Designers:

• Art history and theory: These courses enable students to understand the history of art and how certain schools of thought influence the style of works produced during a specific period. In some programs, furniture design students may have to take course related to architecture because it plays a huge role in the influence of décor and furniture design.
• Drawing: Students learn about various drawing techniques which provide foundation for design.
• Furniture design: These course focus on the principles of design through making furniture. Students learn techniques in woodworking and joinery.2 In some schools, students are required to learn computer programs used for furniture design.
• Wood: Students learn about the history of wood used in art, the characteristics of the material and the techniques on working with wood, such as sculpting, turning and carving.2

Please note that the course above contains a general description of the common courses found in woodworking programs. For information on specific programs and admission requirements, please contact each school directly.

Furthermore, not all woodworking positions require a post-secondary education. Apprenticeships are common for trades such as woodworking, which provides a combination of on-the-job training and in class instruction. Apprenticeship programs are different in each state. For more information on the apprenticeship programs available in your state and their admission requirements, please visit your local state government website.


1. Seattle Central College. Carpentry Program Curriculum. http://www.seattlecentral.edu/wp/woodtech/program-parent-carpentry/carpentry-curriculum/

2. SDSU School of Art, Design and Art History. Undergraduate Furniture and Woodworking Studies. http://art.sdsu.edu/areas_of_study/undergraduate_studies/furniture_and_woodworking/

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