The Upholstery Industry: 2012 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on June 10th, 2012

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published its 2012 “Occupational Outlook Handbook” on the upholstery industry – a brief study that every rookie and seasoned pro in the field should read.

While the study doesn’t separate auto upholsterers from those who work on home furnishings, it does provide valuable insight into our industry.

The handbook’s main takeaways:

  • There are about 46,900 upholsterers in America – 36 percent of which are self-employed.
  • Of these upholsterers, five percent work in the craft of auto trim..
  • The median pay for all upholsterers is $29,960 per year or $14.40 per hour.
  • Employment in the field of upholstery is expected to grow by four percent from 2010 to 2020 – which is good, but still slower than the average for all occupations.

The figures in the 2012 report are based on statistics gathered in 2010. For the full report, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.




9 Responses

  1. Wow only 5% of all upholsterers in America do auto trim. I didn’t realize we were so few.

  2. Nadeem says:

    Yeah, when you do the math that’s only 2,345 auto trimmers. I’m sure the number is a bit deflated though – as some furniture and marine upholsterers also dabble in cars (and vice versa).

  3. 8-track 8-track says:

    With so few in this industry and millions of cars out there, we should be more respected and charging more money for our work.

    • Nadeem says:

      I agree 8-Track.

      If you recall, in a previous article titled “How Much Do You Charge Per Hour?” we reported that auto trimmers, on average, charge less per hour than other automotive repair businesses: http://tinyurl.com/6mwwttc

      But there are far more mechanics, painters and body shops than auto upholstery shops.

      Based solely on the concept of supply and demand (and there is a lot of demand), we should be charging more.

  4. 8-track 8-track says:

    We need to change the publics opinion that upholstery is so easy, That anybody can do it in the back yard or garage.

    • Nadeem says:

      No doubt about it, auto upholstery – as a craft – is under appreciated. I wonder, though, what concrete steps can we take to change public opinion…

  5. MAU MAU says:

    If a car will not start, one can’t drive the car. If you get bumped and the fender is pushed back into the tire, one can’t drive the car. If the seat is ripped, headliner drooping on there head and carpet has more soda then a theater floor, the car still drives. Yea we all would like to make more money, but there is always some A hole that under cuts prices and does BAD work. These people come and go but it makes it harder on the ones that take pride in there work.

  6. smiley says:

    MAU- I just basically had the same thing to say as you in the forum area. It’s not just the overall mindset that its easy to do, but there are shops that are greatly undercutting the industry. I know of a few established shops that will do a COMPLETE interior for $400. It’s the combination of the undercut offers and the mindset as well as just what MAU said that ultimately the car can still be driven, that keep us from getting paid what we are worth.

  7. EDWARD says:

    I PERSONALLY THINK AUTO TRIMMERS SHOULD HAVE THERE VERY OWN CATIGORY WHEN IT COMES TO OCCUPATIONAL ISSUES. HERE WE ARE THINKING WE ARE IN THE SUTOMOTIVE BUSSINESS YET WERE CLASSIFIED AS .
    Upholsterers : Occupational Outlook Handbook : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/upholsterers.htm#tab-7
    Craft and fine artists ,Fashion designers ,Interior designers ,Laundry and dry-cleaning workers ,Sewers and tailors
    I DONT CONSIDER UPOLSTERING AUTOS THE SAME AS DRY CLEANING OR FASHION DESINERS ALTHOUGH WE DO DESIGN BUT IN A COMPLETLY DIFFERENT CATAGORY. I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT WE WERE CLASSIFIED AS THIS TYPE OF WORK. I SUPPOSE ILL HAVE TO GET AN AUTO DEALERS LICENCE TO BE PART OF IT HU, EVEN BEEN A BEMBER OF SEMA AND STILL NOT AUTO CATAGORIZED. DANG


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