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A person who wants to become a reupholsterer can pursue training on the job or take courses to prepare for a career in furniture maintenance and repair. People who have a specific interest in the valuation and preservation of antiques and museum pieces will need some additional training, such as a degree in art history or conservation. Reupholsterers can work with a variety of kinds of furniture and textiles in the course of their work, and employment prospects in this field can be variable.
The traditional way to become a reupholsterer is to start working for an experienced tradesperson to develop professional skills. He or she can provide instruction in how to evaluate furniture pieces, remove old upholstery and replace stuffing and external upholstery. The job can include chances to work with a variety of kinds of furniture and learn techniques used with furniture from different eras to make a reupholstery job blend seamlessly with the look and style of the furniture.
Another option is to go to school to become a reupholsterer. Programs at colleges and technical schools are available. Schools might offer structured opportunities for classroom learning on topics such as the history of textiles, different kinds of textiles and furniture care. In addition, students practice in a lab environment under supervision from instructors to develop their skills. At graduation, students can receive a diploma or certificate to present as a professional credential when they apply for work.
Reupholstery of antiques, works of art and historical items is a bit more complicated. These jobs require not just restoring a furniture covering but maintaining the look and feel of the original piece. The reupholsterer might need to work with historic tools and materials and needs to be able to select or create appropriate filling and upholstery. For someone who wants to become a reupholsterer at a museum or similar facility, a degree in textiles, art history or conservation usually is necessary.
After someone has become a reupholsterer, it might be possible to work for a shop or independently. This work does require a reasonably sized workspace and truck for transport as well as an array of tools. New reupholsterers might want to find out about shop share or rental options to use while they start to build up a reputation and client base. This can be cheaper than trying to maintain a shop space and set of tools independently at the start of a career.
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