Highest-Paying Woodworking Jobs and Careers

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By now, it’s no secret that woodworking can be a lucrative career. However, you might be wondering if it offers the stability needed to sustain your everyday needs and lifestyle. After all, you wouldn’t want to commit to a profession that doesn’t provide a reasonable income.

To help you explore the potential in this field, I have taken the initiative to delve into the highest-paying woodworking jobs currently available in the market. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover opportunities that not only let you pursue your passion for woodworking but also offer substantial financial rewards. 

Top Woodworking Careers That Pay Well

1. Finishing Manager

men talking

This managerial position typically takes on the role of supervising all constructors involved in the finishing project or within the assigned job site. Part of their task is to guarantee that the operations are running according to schedule under proper safety and quality standards.

Average Salary: $62500 to $100000 annually

2. Paper Mill Manager

Paper mill managers have a more comprehensive salary range, unlike other woodworking opportunities. If you ask our industry insiders, it’s mainly because of the skill development the career offers. 

This particular job description doesn’t have a large market, so only a few are hiring for this position. 

Average Salary: $41000 to $100000 annually

3. Mill Manager

Another woodworking career option that you may want to explore is becoming a mill manager. Surprisingly, this role tends to have a higher average base annual salary compared to the previous job discussed above.

It has moderate activity in today’s market, so you’ll have no issues finding a job under this category. 

Average Salary: $66500 to $135000 annually

4. Corrugator Supervisor

True to its job title, a corrugator supervisor oversees the production of corrugated materials. You’ll have employees under your care and supervision to ensure the project moves according to the approved schedule and quality standards. 

Average Salary: $65500 to $78000 annually

5. Engineered Wood Designer

Engineered Wood Designer

You can work as an engineered wood designer if you want a more creative career. In this role, you’ll get to analyze project blueprints and create construction designs according to the manager’s instructions. 

Average Salary: $40500 to $75500 annually 

6. Model Builder

model building

The typical workday of a model builder includes planning replications of architectural structures, crafting props for sets, and developing reproductions. Unlike other woodworking careers, this job doesn’t require high educational attainment. 

Average Salary: $34500 to $93000 annually 

7. Sawmill Supervisor

Sawmill Supervisor

A potentially rewarding option in the realm of woodworking careers, offering steady progression without the constraints of limited expertise, is that of a sawmill supervisor. Regrettably, opportunities for this particular role remain somewhat scarce within the US job market.

Average Salary: $47500 to $75000 annually

8. Corrugator

Being a corrugator covers different specialties, from machine mechanics to technicians. When you apply for this job, you’ll be responsible for maintaining, repairing, and operating corrugating equipment within the plant. 

Average Salary: $35500 to $74000 annually

9. Wood Pattern Maker

wood pattern making

Your skill level is crucial when aiming to be a wood pattern maker. This creative career path can open many opportunities and advancement to your craft if you have the proper technicalities and specializations for the job. 

Average Salary: From $32500 to $56500

10. Construction Manager

Construction manager

If you’re a master craftsman with extensive industry experience, you can qualify as a construction manager. Since this job involves collaborating with engineers and architects, you must understand construction science well. 

Average Salary: Around $97180 annually​

11. Paper Sales Representative

Paper Sales Representative

As stated in the job title, this career leads to being a salesperson for paper products. You must have excellent business presentation skills because it involves reaching out to potential clients and negotiating to close deals. 

Average Salary: $35000 to $54000 annually

12. Bench Carpenter

Besides the actual work that goes into creating a workpiece, you should know that a bench carpenter needs to make the project blueprint according to the client’s request. 

It may sound less technical, but it includes designing workpieces on computer programs and identifying woodworking methods. 

Average Salary: $31500 to $48000 annually

13. Wood Finisher

Wood finisher

The finishing tasks under this job include sanding, shaping, and applying finishes on wood materials. You can also enter the antique restoration industry, where you’ll handle only cabinetry and furniture pieces. 

Average Salary: $30000 to $46000 annually 

14. Lathe Operator

setting up lathe

You possess the technical knowledge and prowess to operate lathe machines to get this job. If you get hired as an operator, your task will include programming and overseeing the metal fabrication process. 

Average Salary: $31500 to $46000 annually

15. CNC Router Operator

operating CNC router

A Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router operator is crucial in any massive workshop, mainly because they set up the routing machines before the daily operations. They oversee safety training and inspections to ensure productive project flows. 

Average Salary: $32500 to $45000 annually

16. Carpenter


One of the woodworking niches with larger markets is the carpentry field. In this career path, you can get a job in home building, creating wood frames, cabinetry, remodeling constructions, etc. 

But how carpentry differs from woodworking? Let’s find out next!

Average Salary: $49520 or more

17. Woodworker

It may seem vague, but a regular woodworker is also a trading specialist who crafts wooden products for a targeted clientele. To enter this field, you must have the proper tools, knowledge, and space suited for different projects. 

Average Salary: $29000 to $40000 annually 

18. Furniture Maker

Furniture Maker

This career path offers two options: mass production or custom crafting. Regardless of the path you choose, creative and technical skills are essential for this job. I recommend pursuing certifications or diplomas, and if possible, gaining experience through internships.

Average Salary: Up to $53,680 annually

19. Panel Saw Operator

Panel Saw Operator

Besides operating the panel saw, this role involves knowing how to maintain the equipment properly and executing other woodworking tasks. You should also know the best accessories and materials to use with the tool if you want to apply for this job. 

Average Salary: $29500 to $39000 annually

20. Drill Press Operator

Drill Press Operator

Since it’s standard workshop equipment, most manufacturing companies are hiring drill press operators. While not as high-paying as other roles, it offers career advancement and consistent pay. 

Average Salary: $26000 to $37500 annually

21. Hand Finisher

Like the previous job market, the demand for hand finishers in the US market is average. As long as you have the right set of skills, you can advance in this career regardless of where you reside. 

Average Salary: $3000 to $38000 annually

22. Woodworking Machine Operator Or Setter

Woodworking Machine Operator Or Setter

As a generalist, machine setters must have extensive technical knowledge about standard woodworking equipment like lathes, sanders, etc. You’ll see training certifications to qualify for this job. 

 Average Salary: $32160 or more

23. Band Saw Operator

fixing bandsaw

On top of knowing bandsaw operations, this job entails regular tool inspection and maintenance. You must have prior experience besides typical general education certificates [1]. 

 Average Salary: Up to $34500 annually

24. Hand Sander


You must be adept with various hand tools like chisels to repair furniture pieces and other wood structures as a hand sander. Most recruiters only require related internships for this job. 

 Average Salary: Up to $26000 annually

25. Saw Operator

Saw Operator

It’s another generalist machine operator role crucial in any workshop. You must have operating knowledge of various equipment types and the maintenance care that comes with it. But do you need a license to operate a chainsaw? Find out next!

 Average Salary: $28000 to $36500

Also Read: Best Woodworking Schools Worldwide


While these high-paying woodworking jobs are enticing, it’s essential to recognize that they require specific knowledge and expertise. You should assess your skills to determine which field aligns best with your strengths and interests, as this can help you maximize your career growth and potential. 

Keep in mind that not every opportunity in the woodworking industry offers consistent perks and opportunities for advancement.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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