Cabinetmaker Career Path

How can you tell if you’ve found a good cabinetmaker?

Cabinet Maker

Like many skilled vocations, cabinetmakers undergo an apprenticeship, and after several years of practice can achieve master cabinetmaker status. Carpenters have various skill levels, depending on their area of expertise. For example, framing a house requires a lot less finesse than hand-carving a custom wooden fireplace mantle, cabinets or bookcase!

Cabinetmakers may use the latest computer-directed lathes or antique hand tools, depending on their preference or the client’s request. Some cabinetmakers use downloaded blueprints, while others are commissioned to design their own.

Many regions offer a cabinetmaking and/or carpentry apprenticeship, often at community colleges or vocational schools, and require applicants to be at least 18 years old and a have high school diploma to enroll.

Cabinetmakers Put in the Hours

Requirements vary from state to state, but cabinetmakers need at least 2,000 hours in an apprenticeship to move to the next level. During this stage, they learn how to use tools, measure properly and master join-and-fit techniques. They also are introduced to a number of carpentry materials and occupational safety rules.

Next, they have formal classroom instruction (depending on state requirements).

On average, apprentices must complete a minimum of 140 hours per year of classroom training. There, they learn about the characteristics of wood, types of finishes, and the science and technology required to handle blueprints and the ever-changing digital carpentry equipment. A solid grasp of math and science is helpful for cabinetmaker apprentices.

Pressure Tests

Most states require a journeyman exam after a certain number of hours of classroom training and apprenticeship. Usually, this includes multiple-choice tests on cabinetmaking, safety and related knowledge.

Getting hands-on experience and theoretical instruction are necessary to pass these tests. In many cases, the schools or trainers have direct contacts in the cabinetmaking industry to help place candidates once they pass their exams.

Every state has a master cabinetmaker exam that demands several years of extensive practice and continuing education to pass. Refining cabinetmaking skills, mentoring others, keeping up with trends by reading journals and checking out trade shows all help move a cabinetmaker into the elite category.

In some areas, master cabinetmaker certification courses are offered by the Cabinet Makers Association, which requires a minimum of five years in the field to enter. Programs are highly competitive.

Whether you’re interested in learning the trade yourself, or you simply want to ensure you’re talking with a highly skilled cabinetmaker for your next project, it’s a good idea to make sure the proper training, certification and schooling is on the agenda. To connect with skilled cabinetmakers in your area, contact AWA Kitchen Cabinets today!