Similar Titles

Cabinet Assembler, Cabinet Builder, Cabinet Installer, Cabinet Maker, Double End Tenon Operator, Frame Builder, Framer, Woodworker

Job Description

The art of cabinetmaking traces its roots back to the late Renaissance period when skilled artisans crafted beautifully intricate pieces for royalty. Today’s Cabinet Makers bring that legacy into modern times, designing, crafting, and assembling custom-made cabinets, furniture, and other elaborate wooden structures. 

They possess a deep understanding of wood types and use state-of-the-art tools and programs that allow them to work with precision as they make functional, durable, aesthetically pleasing pieces. These range from kitchen and bathroom cabinets to bedroom wardrobes that reflect the individual styles of the maker. And now their work isn’t reserved only for royalty! 

Some specialize in a particular niche, such as antique furniture, musical instruments, or chairs and couches. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Job satisfaction from bringing ideas to life, from sketches to finished products
  • Job security because their work is always in demand!
  • Diverse opportunities, from design and restoration to construction projects
2022 Employment
2032 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Cabinet Makers work full-time with most work done indoors. They must often travel to job sites in their local area or to stores to purchase lumber and supplies.

Typical Duties

  • Design custom cabinetry and furniture based on client specifications
  • Review project specifications with designers, clients, or architects
  • Examine technical drawings or blueprints and plan the schedule of work
  • Estimate budgets, including labor and supplies
  • Verify the dimensions of where a piece is going to go, to ensure it will fit
  • Operate computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to produce plans and models
  • Inspect equipment or tools for proper functioning; perform routine maintenance and repairs, as needed
  • Select and order lumber and materials needed to complete work assignments
  • Measure, mark, and cut lumber stock to specifications
  • Operate tools such as power saws and other machines
  • Trim, sand, or scrape surfaces or joints to prepare pieces for finishing
  • Attach parts or subassemblies to form completed units using glue, dowels, nails, screws, or clamps
  • Apply finishes (such as paint, stain, or varnish) to completed products using brushes, sprayers, or rollers
  • Install hardware (such as hinges, handles, catches, or drawer pulls) using hand tools

Additional Responsibilities

  • Maintain work records; keep track of inventory and customer orders
  • Repair or alter wooden furniture, cabinetry, fixtures, paneling, or other pieces
  • Practice good safety when using tools and machines
  • Stay up-to-date on techniques, tools, and programs
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Accuracy 
  • Analytical 
  • Business acumen (for self-employed workers)
  • Customer service
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Manual dexterity 
  • No severe dust allergies or breathing issues 
  • Patience 
  • Perseverance
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management 
  • Quality assurance
  • Safety-minded 
  • Sound judgment and reasoning
  • Strong communication skills

Technical Skills

  • Assembly techniques
  • Basic math calculations
  • Blueprint reading
  • CNC machine operation (for modern workshops)
  • Drafting and design, including computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Edge banding
  • Estimating materials and costs
  • Installation and fitting techniques; installation of hardware (e.g., hinges, handles)
  • Joinery techniques (e.g., dovetail, mortise and tenon, biscuit)
  • Knowledge of adhesive application
  • Knowledge of drawer slide installation and adjustments
  • Knowledge of modern materials (e.g., melamine, MDF)
  • Laminating
  • Layout and marking techniques
  • Proper use of hand tools (e.g., chisels, planes, saws) and power tools (e.g., table saw, band saw, router)
  • Safety procedures
  • Sanding and finishing techniques
  • Sharpening tools
  • Understanding of wood movement due to moisture changes
  • Use of clamping devices and jigs
  • Veneering
  • Wood bending techniques
  • Wood selection and identification
  • Woodturning (for custom pieces)
Different Types of Organizations
  • Self-employed
  • Cabinetmaking businesses
  • Homebuilding companies
  • Retail outlets
  • Museums
  • Theater/film production companies
  • Educational institutions
  • Design studios
Expectations and Sacrifices

Cabinet makers are expected to merge both artistic flair and technical prowess. They must craft pieces that are functional and aesthetically appealing, which requires a keen eye for design—plus a mastery of woodworking techniques!

While making a name for themselves, they might have to invest in tools and materials, if they are self-employed. Cabinet makers often face long workshop hours, risking physical strain and potential injury. The time commitment becomes even greater as trends and technology shift, requiring them to keep up with the changes. 

Current Trends

In recent years, minimalism has dominated cabinetmaking, with clean lines and unadorned facades becoming a staple in modern homes. The push for simplicity has seen a preference for handleless cabinets and neutral color palettes.

Sustainability is another emerging trend. Cabinet makers are increasingly sourcing eco-friendly materials, emphasizing reclaimed woods and low-VOC finishes. This shift not only caters to environmentally-conscious consumers but also promotes longevity and durability in cabinetry.

Lastly, technology integration is reshaping traditional cabinet designs. Features like built-in USB ports, touch-to-open mechanisms, and under-cabinet lighting showcase how modern cabinets are evolving to meet the tech-savvy demands of contemporary living spaces.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Many cabinet makers, in their younger years, showed an affinity for hands-on activities. They might have enjoyed hobbies such as woodworking, crafting, or building models. Engaging with tactile experiences like whittling, assembling toy sets, or repairing household items likely ignited their passion for creation, serving as a foundation for their journey into cabinetmaking!

Education and Training Needed
  • Cabinet makers need a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Vocational, technical school, or even high school courses in woodworking or cabinetry are a solid way to get started!
  • A college degree isn’t necessary, though 19% do earn an associate’s and 22% hold a bachelor’s, per Zippia. However, they may complete these later in their careers, versus at the start
  • Cabinet makers learn many if not most of their skills through apprenticeships, learning from a seasoned professional. They start with small tasks and work their way up over a period of about 3-4 years
  1. An apprenticeship may require 2,000 hours of combined on-the-job training plus formal classroom instruction per year (thus a 4-year apprenticeship would involve ~8,000 hours of OJT and classroom instruction)
  • Per the Carpenters Training Institute, a typical apprenticeship program might look like this:
  1. The first year will cover a lot of safety issues, including first aid, CPR, and machine safety, as well as an introduction to using table saws
  2. The second year covers more table saw use, as well as machine woodworking, solid surfaces, etc.
  3. The third year covers European cabinetry, laminating, exhibit construction, interior trim, and CNC routers while continuing with machine woodworking and solid surfaces
  4. The fourth year covers custom toolboxes, ICRA “Health Care Construction,” and other topics
  5. Note, the above are just sample topics from one training institute!
Things to look for in an University
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program. Ideally, you’ll want as much hands-on practice as you can get for many of these cabinetry courses
  • Look closely at the program’s facilities and equipment
  • Check out the program’s faculty awards and accomplishments
  • Try to read reviews from previous students 
  • Review job placement stats and details about the program’s alumni network 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Cabinet Makers should prepare for their apprenticeships by taking English, art/design, general math (arithmetic, fractions, decimals, ratios, proportions), geometry, chemistry, physics, drafting, computer-aided design, and woodworking or shop courses
  • Gain hands-on skills under the supervision of a professional who can show you how to work safely and use tools properly 
  • Do well in school, because apprenticeship programs can be very competitive
  • Often high school students can take community college or vocational training classes simultaneously. Ask your school counselor for assistance 
  • Expand your practical knowledge through online classes 
  • Get practical work experience through part-time carpentry or construction jobs
  • Consider volunteering on local Habitat for Humanity projects
  • Watch related videos on YouTube channels like MWA Woodworks and Bourbon Moth Woodworking 
  • Educate yourself through cabinetry books, magazines, and online articles
  • Ask a working Cabinet Maker if they have time to do an informational interview with you
  • Decide what type of cabinetry work you might want to specialize in such as antique furniture restoration, cabinets, chairs and couches, etc. 

Note, many employers in the skilled trades, including cabinet making, conduct drug tests as a part of their hiring process to ensure a safe working environment. The use of heavy machinery and tools can be hazardous, so employers (and insurance companies) have to reduce risks. If the apprenticeship is through a union, keep in mind that some unions mandate pre-apprenticeship drug tests or random drug tests throughout the apprenticeship.

Typical Roadmap
Cabinetmaker Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Rack up as much relevant experience as you can in school and through volunteer work before applying for an apprenticeship
  • Job portals like Glassdoor, Indeed, USAJOBS, or SimplyHired are often the best starting points for finding jobs 
  • Look for apprenticeship opportunities at
  • Ask your school’s career services staff for help with resumes, mock interviews, and job searches. They may have direct connections to local unions that offer apprenticeships!
  • If applying for a union apprenticeship, read the application instructions carefully before filling anything out
  1. Don’t just type responses to questions directly into a website. Write them in a separate document, so you can spell-check them more easily and also save them for use elsewhere!
  2. There may be basic exams to test your knowledge, however, “most unions don’t expect you to be an expert in your industry at this point,” notes Indeed
  3. You can take practice exams to find areas where you might need to study more 
  4. If your application is accepted, there will generally be an apprenticeship interview, so plan ahead by reading potential questions and preparing your answers
  • Reach out to your network to let them know you are looking for work
  • Screen job ads carefully to ensure you meet requirements and have the right experience
  • Look for important keywords to work into your resume/application
  • Focus your resume on relevant work and academic experiences and skills, and try to quantify data when you can 
  • Engage in online forums and ask career advice questions
  • Ask your professors, supervisors, and peers if they’ll serve as personal references 
  • Review Cabinet Maker resume templates to get ideas for formatting and phrasing
  • Look up common interview questions to prepare for those crucial interviews 
  • Always dress appropriately for job interview success! 
  • Keep your social media presence professional, because employers look you up online
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Cabinet Makers start as apprentices and work their way up to journeyperson and master levels over the course of years 
  • Talk to your supervisor and trainer about how you can progress faster. Let them know you are willing to knock out any professional development training your employer suggests
  • Complete advanced certifications when you have the minimum experience needed
  • Cabinet makers can apply for certifications from the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America or Cabinet Makers Association  
  • Consider pursuing a relevant degree or courses in specialized areas of cabinetry, design, manufacturing, or engineering
  • Stay up-to-date on drafting software and machine technologies 
  • Keep active in professional organizations to learn new things and grow your network
  • Challenge yourself to work on more complex projects
  • Continue to learn about aesthetics and structural principles related to making unique, sought-after pieces
  • If necessary, apply for jobs that offer more advancement potential—or launch your own business 
Plan B

The skill and artistry of Cabinet Makers remain in high demand, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a slight decrease in the number of workers that will be needed for this field in the future. This is due, in part, to automation, with computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines being increasingly used in wood product manufacturing. As a result, apprenticeship opportunities may become even more competitive. 

For those who might be interested in related occupations, here’s a short list of alternatives to consider!

  • Carpenter
  • Construction and Building Inspector    
  • Construction Laborer    
  • Drywall Installer    
  • Flooring Installer and Tile and Stone Setter    
  • Furniture Finisher
  • General Maintenance and Repair Worker    
  • Insulation Worker    
  • Model Maker
  • Roofer    
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installer    
  • Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter
  • Woodworking Machine Setter, Operator, and Tender


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