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Scorching Profession Alert: Be taught Reupholstery and Begin Out Incomes $20+ an Hour


There’s a gentle demand for upholstery work and never sufficient upholsterers educated to do it. Two semesters in an upholstery course at a local people faculty might assist you land a job that may begin at $20 an hour and finally pay as much as $70 an hour.

“I get a name from an organization at the least each different week saying they’re in search of somebody to rent,” stated Katherine Smith, coordinator of particular initiatives at Tarrant County School in Fort Value, Texas. “And they’re calling from across the U.S., not simply Texas.”

She hears from a wide range of employers, properly past the normal furnishings upholstery retailers. Medical provide firms name needing somebody to upholster analyzing tables. Auto physique retailers name in search of folks to restore seats.

House owners of furnishings upholstery companies across the nation say they’ve shoppers ready months, even years to get work achieved as a result of they don’t have sufficient well-trained upholsterers within the career.

We spoke to enterprise folks within the subject. Right here’s their recommendation on the best way to be taught upholstery and fill a profitable, unmet demand.

“I’m doing a sofa beginning subsequent week and the house owners have been ready two years,” stated John

Levey, who owns Zim’s of Catalina upholstery enterprise on Catalina Island, Calif. He’s prepared to rent a certified worker on the spot for $30 an hour.

“I’ve a lot work I don’t know what to do with it,” stated Chris Scirica, who co-owns Caribe Interiors Upholstery & Furnishings Refinishing in St. Petersburg, Fla. “The rationale the demand is extraordinarily excessive is there are so few folks doing this properly. I can’t even discover anybody to show.”

The best way to Be taught Reupholstery

There are a number of sources — each digital and in-person — for individuals who need to pursue upholstery as a profession or aspect gig.

Take Programs at a Technical College or Group School

Top left, An upholstery sign hangs at the Tomlinson Adult Learning Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. Top right, Jarczynski works on a chair. She sells some of her finished products on Facebook Marketplace. Bottom left, Mary Fletcher has been taking the ongoing upholstery class at the learning center on-and-off for 20 years. Bottom right, Rulers hang in the upholstery classroom.

Schools around the country teach students how to reupholster at various levels. Some are more for the “weekend warrior” who wants to recover the dining room chairs they found at a garage sale or even take a stab at a skirted sofa. Others offer certificates of continuing education and teach skills that can be put to use in an existing upholstery business or start one of their own.

When students finish a year at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, for example, they are ready for the upholstering profession, Smith said.

Here’s how that program works:

The first semester at Tarrant covers the fundamentals of upholstery while the second semester covers intermediate upholstery. Each requires 96 hours of instruction. A summer course teaches auto and boat upholstery in 108 hours. Classes meet twice a week from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The courses cost $300 a semester and many students are eligible for financial aid. Upon completion, students earn a certificate that shows they are qualified to work in the reupholsetry profession.

Check with your local technical school or community college to see what types of courses are available.

The National Upholstery Association also has a directory of courses taught by grasp upholsterers and different professionals.

Take On-line Upholstery Lessons

Kim Chagnon took upholstery courses twice every week for a yr in 1996. She began upholstering for family and friends as a aspect gig after which made it her full-time job. After constructing a thriving enterprise in Greenfield, Mass., in 2010 she began posting YouTube tutorials to share her information for viewers who needed to pursue upholstery. Since then, she and her husband Invoice have made greater than 200 posts and have 75,000 subscribers and greater than 8 million views.

Their enterprise, Kim’s Upholstery, now affords courses by their website with extra in-depth coaching. For $25 a month or $240 a yr, college students have limitless entry to coaching movies out there across the clock. Subscribers discuss frequently to supply one another assist and Chagnon can be very accessible.

Subscribers can be taught reupholstery for all sorts of furnishings together with a chaise lounge, channel again chair, skirted couch, any sort of cushion, tufted ottoman, Queen Anne Chair and curved headboard simply to call just a few. Chagnon additionally teaches slip covers for a rolled arm loveseat, changing a zigzag sinuous spring, matching patterned cloth and measuring cloth for yardage.

Kim’s Upholstery additionally affords  in-person, three-day workshops for individuals who need to be taught upholstery in a single venture for $600. There are two developing in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Pursue Upholstery Apprenticeships

Many upholsterers realized their abilities working in a household enterprise.

With the necessity for educated staff so excessive, Smith stated she’s talked with employers who would take somebody on as an apprentice and pay them as they enhance their abilities.

“If they will get somebody that at the least midway is aware of what they’re doing and so they can use a industrial, industrial stitching machine, they’re ,” she stated.

“I used to be taught each facet of what it takes to do a job utterly,” stated Scirica of Caribe Interiors. His father, a grasp craftsman from Sicily, Italy, handed his huge information on to Scirica and his brother. Scirica believes many local people faculty programs are extra for do-it-yourselfers who don’t have to study intricate upholstery abilities.

“They don’t educate the best way to do diamond tufting or stuff with horse hair,” he stated. “The easiest way  to get right into a enterprise like that is to seek out any individual and apprentice.”

Merita Whitfield of Bradenton, Fla., reupholsters a French Provincial chair at the learning center. Many who take the upholstery class do it to save money on reupholstering their furniture, but some have moved on to start successful businesses. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

How to Start an Upholstery Business

No matter how you learn your upholstery skills, if you want to start your own business you need to invest around $1,500 to $2,000 in equipment.

A good industrial sewing machine costs an average of $1,500, according to Smith. A box of essential upholstery tools is another $500.

Chagnon gave strong reviews to the LS-1 Basic Walking Foot Sewing Machine, which sells for $795. It comes with a 3-hour video to show customers every little thing they should know concerning the machine.

After getting confirmed your self with family and friends, begin networking. Contact vintage sellers, classic store house owners and property sale managers who can hand out your card once they promote a bit of furnishings that wants work. Realtors additionally get to know lots of people who need to spruce up their properties and reupholster furnishings. Attain out to inside designers, too, in fact.

Profitability varies. Whereas there’s regular demand for upholstery work, Scirica says his enterprise is way from a money cow.

“It’s a labor of affection,” he stated. For instance, an upholsterer may spend 10 hours engaged on a high-back wing chair and cost the shopper $700. The $70 an hour earned on that chair additionally has to assist cowl bills like energy, insurance coverage and lease for the workspace.

Establishing a enterprise in your personal house undoubtedly permits extra room for revenue, Smith stated.

Myles Denny, proprietor of Diversified Upholstery Service in Knoxville, Tenn., has a profitable enterprise doing repairs and fabric for guarantee firms that cowl furnishings. He’s a one-man store, and travels to shoppers’ properties to repair their furnishings.

“I cost $90 for a service name and after that it’s $70 an hour,” Denny stated, explaining the guarantee firms pay him, not the furnishings proprietor. “I’ve at all times loved working with my palms. I make an excellent residing at this.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a workers author for The Penny Hoarder.