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Arts & crafts


Upholsterers pad, cover and re-cover furniture with materials like leather, suede or cotton.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

43 to 45 a week

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

Future employment

There will be 7% fewer Upholsterer jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this job you could:

  • plan work, advise on fabrics and estimate costs
  • prepare patterns and templates
  • cut fabric to correct measurements
  • fix webbing and springs
  • cover furniture frames with padding and fabric, using stitching, staples, tacks or glue
  • make soft furnishings like cushions
  • add trimmings like piping, fringing and buttons
  • remove old upholstery and repair frames before re-upholstering

Working environment

You could work in a workshop, in a factory, at a client's business or at a client's home.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies

You could take a college course, like a:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Upholstery
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Furnishings - Traditional Upholstery
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Furnishings - Modern Upholstery

Courses like these may be useful when looking for a trainee upholsterer job with a company.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information

You could do a furniture manufacturer intermediate apprenticeship or upholsterer advanced apprenticeship.

These typically take 24 months to complete as a mix of learning in the workplace and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information

You may be able to get work as a trainee upholsterer, without any experience. You would then do qualifications and get experience on the job.

Other routes

You can train for upholstery qualifications with the The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers. These may be useful when looking for a job or help if you're looking to set up your own business.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the [Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) |].

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With experience, you could move into a supervisory or management position.

You could specialise in re-upholstering antique furniture or work in interior design.

You could become self-employed and set up your own upholstery business.

You could teach your upholstery skills to apprentices and students in further education.

Find out more about teaching in further education from Teach in further education.

The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) has more information on upholstery qualifications.

You can find out more about working in upholstery from Creative Choices.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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