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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 people wanting to enter the role due to the limited number of apprenticeships available, but good for experienced workers

Experienced upholsterers are in demand. The job appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled furniture upholsterers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

The job has also been added to Immigration New Zealand's Canterbury skill shortage list, which highlights occupations in shortage that are needed during the rebuild of Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

According to estimates from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the number of upholsterers has increased slightly from 1,084 in 2010 to 1,111 in 2012.

Limited number of upholsterer apprenticeships available

It can be difficult to get into this job because there are few positions for upholstery apprentices. Furniture manufacturing stores employ just a few upholsterers and can take on new apprentices only when the business expands or an upholsterer leaves.

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.


  • Furniture Association of New Zealand Inc, 'Furniture Newsletter May 2010', 2010.
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Canterbury Skill Shortage List', accessed September 2011, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', accessed August 2011, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business,Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
  • Trought, D, national careers manager, FITEC, Careers New Zealand interview, July 2010.

Current vacancies

Experienced Upholsterer! Listed: 20 Nov 2014 Auckland
Upholsterer Listed: 14 Nov 2014 Auckland
Upholsterer Wanted! Listed: 04 Nov 2014 Auckland
Framemaker and an Upholsterer req urgently Listed: 29 Oct 2014 Auckland
Boat Builders Listed: 19 Nov 2014 Bay Of Plenty
Cabinet Maker Listed: 31 Oct 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

Nickki Burnet at her sewing machine

The effects of the Christchurch earthquakes have increased demand for uphosterers

Updated 14 Aug 2014