After high school, most woodworkers are trained on the job, learning from more experienced workers.
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to become a woodworker. Although some entry-level jobs may be learned in 1 month or less, becoming fully proficient may take several months to more than a year of on-the-job training. Woodworkers also must be able to use computer-controlled machinery.
A high school diploma is typically required to enter the occupation. Training in computer applications and math may enhance employment prospects.
For woodworking production jobs, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have taken some vocational-technical or college courses.
Typically, entry-level woodworkers train on the job, learning their skills from experienced workers. Beginning workers do basic tasks, such as feeding a piece of wood through a machine and stacking the finished product at the end of the process. As they gain experience, woodworkers do more complex tasks with less supervision.
Becoming a skilled woodworker often takes several months or years. Skilled woodworkers read blueprints, set up machines, and plan work sequences.
Some workers also receive training through apprenticeships offered by employers or unions.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although not required, credentials often demonstrate competence and professionalism. They also may help a candidate advance in the occupation.
The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program, with five progressive credentials.
Because of the prevalence of CNC machines in production, workers also may benefit from obtaining CNC machine certification. Certification is offered by community colleges and CNC machine manufacturers.
With experience, skilled woodworkers may advance to other positions that offer greater responsibility. For example, they may be promoted to team lead or floor supervisor, positions in which they help to oversee the work of other 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 handtools and power tools, so they need good hand-eye coordination.
Math skills. Woodworkers need to understand basic geometry in order to visualize how a three-dimensional wooden object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture, will fit together.
Mechanical skills. The use of handtools, such as screwdrivers and wrenches, is required to set up, adjust, and calibrate machines. These automated systems also require woodworkers to use computers and other programmable devices.
Physical stamina. Woodworkers often stand for long periods performing many of the same functions.
Physical strength. Woodworkers must be able to lift bulky, heavy pieces of wood.
Technical skills. Woodworkers must be able to interpret design drawings and technical manuals for a range of products and machines. They also should be able to troubleshoot issues as they arise.