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Kaiwhakapaipai Uhinga Waka

Alternative titles for this job

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


Trainee upholsterers usually earn

$39K-$42K per year

Qualified upholsterers usually earn

$52K-$62K per year

Source: Competenz, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an upholsterer are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.


Pay for upholsterers varies depending on experience.

  • Trainee upholsterers usually earn between the minimum wage and $42,000 a year.
  • Qualified upholsterers usually earn between $52,000 and $62,000.

Source: Competenz, 2017. 

(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
  • knowledge of furniture styles
  • knowledge of fabrics, threads and colours
  • sewing and pattern-making skills.

Working conditions


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

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become an upholsterer.

However, to become a qualified upholsterer you need to complete a traineeship and gain a National Certificate in Furniture (Level 4) specialising in Advanced Upholstery, through Competenz.

Secondary education

A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, maths and technology. 

Personal requirements

Upholsterers need to be neat and accurate in their work, with an eye for detail.

Useful experience

Useful experience for upholsterers includes:

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

Physical requirements

Upholsterers need to have steady hands and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - info@competenz.org.nz - www.competenz.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Opportunities best in the larger centres

Job opportunities for upholsterers are steady, with most new traineeship positions available in the main cities where people are investing in better furniture and coverings.

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

Better opportunities if you have exceptional attention to detail  

Although there are limited new positions for trainees, if you have design flair and are detail focused there is a good chance of getting a traineeship with an upholstery business.

Upholstery businesses expanding into furniture making and repair work

Some upholstery businesses are expanding into making their own furniture, building frames and doing frame repairs. Carpentry experience is an advantage for getting traineeships with these businesses.

Upholsterers commonly self-employed

Upholsterers may work for:

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

Many upholsterers run their own business and some work as sole traders or contractors for interior design firms. They may also do furniture restoration and repair work.


  • Lyne, A, training manager, Competenz, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2017.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • 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.

Nikki Burnet attaching new padding to a chair

Upholsterers revive old furniture by attaching new coverings

Last updated 18 September 2020