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Kaiwhakapaipai Uhinga Waka

Alternative titles for this job

Upholsterers make or repair the springs, padding, linings and covers of furniture.


Trainee upholsterers usually earn

$48K-$50K per year

Qualified upholsterers usually earn

$50K-$62K per year

Source: Competenz, 2021.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an upholsterer are average due it being a small occupation with stable numbers of people in the role.


Pay for upholsterers varies depending on experience.

  • Trainee upholsterers usually earn between minimum wage and $50,000 a year.
  • Qualified upholsterers can earn between $50,000 and $62,000.

Source: Competenz and research, 2021. 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Upholsterers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss requirements with customers
  • remove, repair or replace damaged or worn furniture parts
  • draw up patterns or cutting plans
  • cut and sew fabrics to the right size and shape
  • attach springs, padding and covers to furniture frames.

Skills and knowledge

Upholsterers need to have knowledge of:

  • upholstery methods and materials
  • furniture styles
  • fabrics, threads and colours
  • sewing and pattern-making skills.

Working conditions


  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in workshops, factories and furniture shops.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become an upholsterer.

However, to become a qualified upholsterer you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Furniture – Upholstery (Level 4). Competenz oversees upholsterer apprenticeships.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job. However, maths, construction and mechanical technologies, and design and visual communication to at least Level 2 are useful.

Personal requirements

Upholsterers need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • creative
  • able to work independently and in a team
  • organised, with excellent time management skills
  • good at problem solving
  • good communicators.

Useful experience

Useful experience for upholsterers includes:

  • work in the furniture industry
  • factory manufacturing work
  • sewing work.

Physical requirements

Upholsterers need to have steady hands and good hand-eye co-ordination as they work with sharp tools.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - -
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What are the chances of getting a job?

Average opportunities for upholsterers

Many skilled upholsterers are reaching retirement age and there aren't enough people entering the industry to replace them. However, there is still competition for job vacancies because qualifications and specific experience aren't required.

Sewing skills, experience working with your hands and evidence of precise workmanship can increase your chances of getting upholstery work.

According to the Census, 915 upholsterers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Opportunities for apprentice upholsterers growing

Opportunities for getting work as an apprentice upholsterer have risen significantly as the Government financially supports employers to take on apprentices.

Opportunities better in larger centres

Job opportunities are better in cities where the larger furniture manufacturers are located. However, there are opportunities in regional areas throughout the country with smaller manufacturers.

Small range of employers

Upholsterers may work for:

  • large furniture manufacturing plants
  • small upholstery or furniture restoration businesses.

Many upholsterers also run their own business.


  • Furniture and Cabinetmaking Association of New Zealand website, accessed March 2021 (
  • James, B, recruitment executive, Competenz, interview, January 2021.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Upholsterers may progress to set up their own business.

Upholsterers may also specialise in car upholstery.

An upholsterer repairs a chair frame

Upholsterers remove and replace furniture parts

Last updated 27 March 2024