Q. Are your classes and videos only for serious students? What if I’m a hobbyist?
A. Though our target audience is professional learners, hobbyists are welcome. In fact, most current professionals started as hobbyists, so to a degree, hobbyists and new professionals are one and the same. If you are a hobbyist, however, please be aware that our intermediate and advanced courses make the assumption that you have completed prerequisites. If you chose to purchase any of our upper level online courses, you will notice content gaps as we DO NOT review what was covered at the basic level. If you wish to join us for a live course, we ask that you read descriptions and register for something that matches your level of interest and experience.
Q. Do you know where I can get a degree in upholstery?
A. Surprisingly, no. We’ve done extensive research and generally only turn up “degree programs” that have been phased out or are teaching down, preparing for closure. Those that remain, WHEN they remain, appear to be high ratio open workshop more than anything. It’s our strong conclusion that the traditional model for obtaining an upholstery degree is not longer relevant or sustainable, except in some manufacturing pockets which have sufficient job placement for graduates. There are some countries with a strong AMUSF presence where it’s possible to get certificates and other skill accreditations. But in the U.S. due to geographic challenges and other market factors, high-touch training models continually struggle.
Q. Can you connect me with an apprenticeship?
A. We cannot. We’ve tried VERY hard in our local community, and connected barely a few promising students. There are not many workrooms in a position to offer work-study. We hope, through networking and collaboration that this might change over time, but at present, most successful professional students essentially apprentice themselves, by moving in stages from hobby to side hustle to career. You will find recommendations throughout our Upholstery Training Systems resources on how to approach this. We’d also encourage you to become involved with The National Upholstery Association, which does have a student category. Hopefully, someday, apprenticeship paths won’t be so difficult to find.
Q. What if I don’t have space to do upholstery at home, or I don’t want to invest in equipment?
A. We can appreciate that! We’re still happy to see you as a hobbyist. If you’re a serious student, we’d tell you with honesty that investing in basic equipment is FAR more economical that doing all your hours in a classroom. A big part of our reasoning for building better online resources was so students could SAVE money by doing as much as possible through independent study.
Q. Should I start with a live class, or online courses?
A. If you’ve never tried upholstery, a live class is a great place to start – just to see if you like. If you are ready to get serious, then go to our online courses first. Our training model is designed around a flipped classroom. This means you explore content independently, using online tools. You do the “homework” first and see how much you can do without us. Then live instruction can focus on clarification and refinement. There’s no sense in a live teacher giving you information you could get faster and cheaper from a video. And there’s no sense paying for a class when you really just need to practice.
Q. How much does your program cost?
A. That depends largely on you. Every student’s needs are slightly different so at present we sell our resources fairly alacarte. One of the reasons that degree programs tend to “fail” is that students leave when they feel ready – as opposed to when the official boxes are all checked. Our recommendation would be for serious students to complete all available online courses more or less in order, and at each level, aim for several hundred hours of practice and work-study, four virtual instructor meetings and at least one live training. Remember that a traditional training/apprenticeship path would generally extend over 2-3 years, so your program costs should be spread out and gradually subsidized by client projects, IF you decide to go all the way through.
Q. Do you know where I can find hands-on training in (any other state)?
A. Check out The National Upholstery Association for a list of educator members. And if you’re interested in expanding that resource, reach out to inquire about getting involved.
Q.Are you instructors certified?
A. At present, in the U.S. there is no recognized governing agency for upholstery that CAN certify. So . . . they’re certified by us. That means they know our content and methods, they have demonstrated technical skill we’re comfortable approving, and their businesses have good standing in the communities they serve. They have been selected for their technical skill, teaching aptitude, and business acumen – they have successfully trained around the same hurdles you’re facing and are joyfully willing to help you in your own vocational path. Additionally, they are active in trade associations, actively working towards a better future.
Q. How many hours/classes does it take to learn upholstery?
A. An “official” apprenticeship is generally estimated at 6,000 hours. That’s about 3 years, IF you were working full time. Most professionals will tell you that we actually never stop learning, and we hope that will be your philosophy as well. OUR goal is to arm you with enough basic, professional level knowledge that you can begin working casually within the first year. That way, you can improve through experience as you continue expanding your skill set. If you absolutely need a full-time arrangement in the first 2 years and live outside of the manufacturing belts, upholstery is probably not a fit at this time.
Q. Is there actually a market for upholsterers?
A. Yes. It’s a challenging market to be sure. Much of the work available is for highly skilled candidates, and we’ve lost droves of businesses to retirement in the last 2 decades. So most new professionals are tasked not only with learning the skills, but also building the business they wish to work in. Those who succeed frequently find more demand than they can comfortably handle. Though most candidates start with small, custom residential, there is a great deal of work beyond that initial market: Designers, restaurants, hotels, healthcare etc. There is a great deal of unmet market need for upholsterers, but the pathways to finding and monetizing it are not simple or straight.
Q. How are you funded? When will more courses be available?
A. At present, we are self-funded, which does impact the speed at which we can create content. In-depth online courses, with appropriate digital and human instrastructure, are a significant investment of time, team and capital. We are certainly always happy to talk with potential sponsors who may be interested in helping us achieve our vision more quickly.