Career path?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by Fireguy posted 05-03-2010 05:24 PM 2175 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3743 days

05-03-2010 05:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I just wanted to get a few opinions as far as my career options. Right now I am stuck in a dead end job and my wife wants me to go back to school, and she thinks I should go back for cabinet making or construction / remodeling. I am a bit apprehensive about mixing my hobby that I love with work, I would hate to have my wood working feel like work. My other problem with it is limited job prospects and a steady income once I am finished with school. The alternative is to go back for electronics (not my favorite thing) to go with my work experience it would give me a lot of options in the job market, but not something I get excited about doing.

I am just looking for some feedback for food for thought.

-- Alex

16 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3582 days

#1 posted 05-03-2010 05:44 PM

Over 30 years ago I was a very serious amateur photographer. I even considered going pro. Then I did some professional work (without giving up my day job) and quickly decided I did not want to go pro. The pressure took all the pleasure out of my photography.

Without knowing more it is hard to advise you. I will only say that you really should do something you enjoy doing and there will always be a need for good trades people.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3506 days

#2 posted 05-03-2010 06:56 PM


You might possibly lose woodworking as a hobby but if you are good enough to make a living at it, it beats doing something you hate.

You might enjoy working on your own stuff as a hobby anyway. The stuff you will be doing for others will most likely be what people are willing to pay for. The stuff you do for yourself, people would faint if you charged what it would really cost. Whole different world.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 4175 days

#3 posted 05-03-2010 07:17 PM

The job loses over the last two years have been mainly in the construction industry and things don’t seem to be looking any brighter.
Loving something and being good at it doesn’t mean you can make a living at it. I don’t want to hinder anyones aspirations, but working wood for a living is a constant hustle and the money is far from steady.
My wife has a secure and good paying job, it is that financial backbone that has allowed my doors to stay open while everyone else is closing theirs. I do still love woodworking, but make no mistake, it is still a job. I have little time to do the things I actually enjoy in the shop, even though I am in the shop most everyday and that includes weekends.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4400 days

#4 posted 05-03-2010 07:36 PM

I second Rhett’s comment. I’ve been a full time woodworker for 8 years and it was very successful until 2008. If my wife didn’t work and didn’t have medical insurance, we would probably be homeless right now. Things are starting to pick up a little, but I don’t see it coming back strong in the southeast for a while. Other parts of the country seem to be in better shape than my area. If your wife can carry the family on her pay, then I would say try your hand at it. Personally, I would stay in the dead-end job and develop a niche business on the side that hopefully you could later move into full time.

As far as having to work at your hobby, becoming a cabinet maker is less about woodworking and more about running a business. This is the part that we all hate, but it beats working for the man.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3469 days

#5 posted 05-03-2010 10:55 PM

Look for something that is recession-proof. You saw what construction did the last two years. I have a contractor friend that refuses to do a remodel. He says all you do is correct other people’s mistakes. If you don’t like electronics, don’t do something that you won’t enjoy. Look into something in the medical field. I have three nurses in the family and a good friend that his company closed (with 8 hours notice) and went to nursing school. They are all making very good money. Something in physical therapy, imaging/X-ray, lab work, etc. Research it thoroughly on the “Net and talk to people in those areas. Check with accredited schools in your area. Good luck! BTW, I was in sales for over 35 years- don’t recommend it.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4432 days

#6 posted 05-04-2010 05:31 AM

Back in the 70s I was hooked on electronics and computers but after about 20 years I got tired of it and went into management teaching OSHA classes “BIG mistake” I wish I stayed in electronics. I think just about anything you do for work will get to be “just another job” given enough time. The coolest thing I found is that when you do something you like you tend to be good at it. I keep getting offers to go on cool assignments. I just got an offer to teach HAZCOM classes for the Gulf Oil Spill.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2823 posts in 4098 days

#7 posted 05-04-2010 06:02 AM

the cool thing about having “just another job” is that you get to go home and forget about it. Running a business is a 24/7 job. It takes everything out of you, puts stress on you and your family, and takes the pleasure out of it. I still do woodworking as a living, but for someone else. It’s not my problem to think about at night. I enjoy it during the weekends now. However, there is no pension, no benefits, and a reletively low wage that can’t create a retirement. We literally live pay check to paycheck. You need to have the business to make any money, but then you don’t. If that makes sense.
Personally I would go to school for something that has all the benefits (health, dentil, 401k, etc) and get a job that you can benefit from in the long run. If you work in the construction industry you will most likely die at work. Well, unless you make the effort and succeed at being famous at it.

Good luck

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3743 days

#8 posted 05-04-2010 02:06 PM

Thanks for all the input, alot of what has been said are things I already was thinking but it sure helps to hear it form someone else. I am still looking at options, one thing I am exploring is Renewable energy, right now there are no jobs in the feild in the state but i think in the next year or so it could really take off, but how knows at this point. I have not ruled out woodworking but I will probably keep it as just a hobby for now.

Luckly I have a wife that is the bread winner in our house so that will give me some flexability to pursue a differant job that I will be happier with.

-- Alex

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3469 days

#9 posted 05-04-2010 02:21 PM

What type of work is your wife in? What would her chances be of getting work in another location? Don’t limit yourself to one geographical area. I get tickled at people who say they can’t find a job but won’t move. My grandfather was an ironworker and worked all over the US. My father was an engineeer in cooking appliances and lived in several states. Same with me- 6 states.

View 4Bennett's profile


8 posts in 3525 days

#10 posted 05-11-2010 07:43 AM

Another thing to consider is your own personal health. Im 24 and have been doing carpentry for about seven years now. I work with a guy who has been a carpenter most of his life. three times within the past two years, he has reached down to pick up a saw, had his back go out, and almost crawled off the job site to go to the chiropractor.
My boss has been a carpenter for about 20 years and is now 40. there are alot of days he struggles to put on his coveralls because his shoulder is so screwed up.
I graduated with my bachelors degree in business administration about a year ago. I have continued to do carpentry because i love the work, but my goal is to be out of carpentry before my body is shot.

Just something else to think about.

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 3452 days

#11 posted 05-22-2010 04:27 PM

Running and enjoying running a business is not the same as loving woodworking. You have to love the responsibilities of running a business. I have discovered that my job is more about creating sales and customer service than actual woodworking. I have taught others the way that my work is done.

Now I spend more time with finding more customers, developing new products and taking care of customer service. In my case, I love business and woodworking. I have combined the two and love it.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4085 days

#12 posted 05-22-2010 05:53 PM

I’ve had a number of different business and all were my passion at the time I was involved with them, but I think my fathers saying holds true”it’s not doing what you like it’s liking what you do” Many want to be in woodworking or remodeling but it’s a lot more than knowing how to do the work you set out to do . It involves business practices, advertizing, customer service, knowing whats legal and what rights you have and don’t have, reading customers and sometimes their mind and much much more. For most I say enjoy working for someone else it’s so much easier and for many more profitable.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2742 posts in 3430 days

#13 posted 06-17-2010 02:32 AM

I am a reitred sheet matal worker and full time sawdust maker now. I have worked in this same sheet metal construction field all my life. I have worked Union and non union and have been a contractor ( 10 years). I have a great pension now and was the single bread winner all my life. My wife stayed home with the kids. Construction is a great field if, as has been mentioned, you are willing to move to where the work is. Right now here in Lubbock Texas there is a 25+ year building boom still forging on. I wish I had worked here all those years. The point is; there are places where there is still work and others where there is little. Within any construction trade there are oppertunities to get away from the tools into design and supervision. I worked with the tools the whole while and my health held up. True not everyone is this lucky in their health. Carpentry is one of the “very hard on the body” trades but plumbing electriction and sheet metal work are not so bad. Many make over $100,000 a year in these trades. The apprenticeship programs are great. Look into them.

-- No PHD just a DD214

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4034 days

#14 posted 06-17-2010 02:46 AM

Fireguy, PM this guy and have a chat:

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3568 days

#15 posted 06-17-2010 03:30 AM

I am a high school student and was a Graphic Design major, but I changed to environment design. Many people think it cover only the environment, that is not true, It covers graphic design, metal working,electronics, wood working, architecture, etc….. It is more than a pencil and a paper. In today’s industry, you will need to know more than one.

“Have one job you like and other you don’t like.”

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics