Custom upholsterers are those who repair or replace fabric or upholstery for specific customers, including furniture stores, individuals and automotive dealers. They consult with clients on alterations, provide price quotes and remove old materials from sofas, chairs and automobile seats. These specialists then upholster these items according to certain specifications. Custom upholsterers earn salaries averaging just over $30,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
Custom upholsterers earned average annual salaries of $31,750 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent made over $47,480 per year. Most upholsterers take vocational courses in sewing and furniture upholstery; this job has no minimum educational requirements. Those employed by upholstery stores usually get their training on the job, but some employers may require one or more years of experience in the industry. Other key qualifications include physical strength and stamina, creativity, attention to detail and customer-service, teamwork, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.
Salary by Industry
In 2012, average salaries for custom upholsterers varied significantly within different industries. They earned the highest annual salaries of $49,670 working for local government, according to the BLS. Those employed by colleges and universities and textile furnishing mills also earned relatively high salaries of $42,210 and $37,570 per year, respectively. Customer upholsterers in the household and institutional furniture industry made closer to the national average at $31,990 annually. Those employed by motor vehicle parts manufacturing companies earned $25,580.
Salary by State
Salaries for custom upholsterers are usually higher in states where living and housing costs are higher. For example, those in New York -- where living costs are high -- earned average annual salaries of $40,770 as of May 2012, according to BLS data. They also earned comparatively high salaries in Nebraska, Massachusetts and Nevada at $40,430, $40,000 and $38,690 per year, respectively. Customer upholsterers earned salaries closer to the national average in Mississippi -- $31,720 annually. In Texas and Tennessee, they made $28,740 and $26,670, respectively.
The BLS only projects a 4-percent increase for upholsterer jobs in the next decade, slower than the 14-percent growth rate of all jobs. Custom upholsterers may find more job opportunities working with used and antique furniture. More people are buying second-hand furniture at used furniture stores and flea markets. Still, most people replace furniture rather than refurbishing it, especially when they have enough disposable income.