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UpholstererAlternative titles

Kaiwhakapaipai Uhinga Waka

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Furniture Upholsterer

Upholsterers make, install and attach the springs, padding, linings and covers of furniture.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

What are the chances of getting a job?


Chances of getting a job as an upholsterer are poor for those wishing to enter the role, but good for experienced workers.

It can be difficult to get into this job as there are few positions available for upholstery apprentices. This is because: 

  • more furniture is imported, so fewer apprentices are needed
  • furniture manufacturers only take on new apprentices when the business expands or an upholsterer leaves

Experienced upholsterers are in demand

However, qualified and experienced upholsterers are in demand. Following the Canterbury 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and the Christchurch rebuild, the job of upholster is on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list, and on Immigration New Zealand's Canterbury skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled furniture upholsterers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Types of employers

Upholsterers work for:

  • large furniture manufacturing plants
  • small specialist furniture restoration businesses.

Many upholsterers run their own businesses or work as sole traders from home. Some do contract work for interior design firms. They may also offer restoration and repair work.


  • Competenz, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2014.
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Canterbury Skill Shortage List', accessed September 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', accessed September 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business,Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

Current vacancies

UPHOLSTERER Listed: 17 Dec 2014 Auckland
Cabinet Maker Listed: 15 Dec 2014 Bay Of Plenty
Boat Builders Listed: 15 Dec 2014 Bay Of Plenty

Other vacancy websites

Progression and specialisations

Upholsterers may progress to run their own businesses.

How many people are doing this job?

Year 2012
Year 2011
Year 2010
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.

Nikki Burnet working on a chair which is on a workbench

Many upholsterers run their own business

 Nikki Burnet talking to a customer in a sample room

As most upholstery businesses are small it can be hard to get an apprenticeship

Nikki Burnet at her sewing machine

The effects of the Christchurch earthquakes have increased demand for upholsterers

Updated 11 Dec 2014