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Upholsterers are responsible for applying the soft finishes to furniture. They also repair and rebuild sofas, chairs, car seats and other upholstered furniture.

An upholsterer will remove the old covering and padding from the seat, arms, sides and back of the piece being redone. The webbing might also be removed and replaced with new webbing, along with any defective springs. The upholsterer then measures and cuts materials for the new covering; sews and attaches the material to the frame; and finally adds any required trimming such as braid or buttons. Upholsterers are also sometimes required to refinish the wooden surfaces of furniture items.

Upholsterers should have knowledge of the ergonomics of design, different finishes, fabrics, foams and webbing. They may work in factories, with interior designers or directly with customers who determine the work to be done and the type of fabric to be used.

Satisfying Aspects
- making or remaking items that enhance the comfort of people
- working with your hands
- fairly good job security for semi-skilled workers
- the possibility of starting one's own business
- sometimes working with lovely pieces of furniture

Demanding aspects
- limited employment opportunities and prospects of promotion
- tiring physical work
- working with difficult or over-demanding customers

An upholsterer should:
- be at least 16 years old;
- be willing to undergo a selection test battery;
- have finger and manual dexterity;
- have good coordination;
- move large and heavy pieces of furniture;
- accurately calculate the amount of material required;
- enjoy working with his hands;
- work well without supervision;
- be creative;
- have an eye for detail;
- work quickly, accurately and neatly.

School Subjects
Grade 8 Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Consumer Studies, Mathematics

Registration is required with a suitable employer offering training. All costs of successful training are borne by the employer. Wage increases during the stages of learnership are dependent on the progress through the system as well as entry level. Entry levels are more practical than academic.

The Furniture Industry Training Board (FITB) enables the industry to provide comprehensive training to all of its employees:

Theoretical and practical training: provided by professional trainers at one of the centres of the FITB. Progress depends on the ability to "do" rather than to "know"
Duration of course: 2 to 4 years depending on the progress of the candidate in the modular    system
Final examination: a compulsory trade test at the Centre of Trade Testing at Olifantsfontein as well as accredited training centres
Advanced Training: the Furniture Production Unit of the FITB in Johannesburg offers the following courses
Diploma in Furniture Production: 2 year full-time course for matriculants.
Certificate in Furniture Production: 3 month course for employees already in the industry
Note: changes in the training of artisans is subject to the official approval of the Registrar of Labour Training. A new system of learnership training will be introduced within the next few years. Each industry will make use of its own methods and time to implement the system.

- Furniture manufacturers
- Cabinet makers
- Kitchen manufacturers
- Building contractors
- Self-employment, with enough experience, can start own business

South African Institute for Entrepreneurship
P O Box 13805
Mowbray, 7705
Tel: (021) 447-2023 Fax: (021) 674-3920