Are you creative? Got an eye for design? Do you enjoy working with your hands to make something both beautiful and useful? Consider a career in furniture design!
Many high school classes will prove useful in a furniture design career. English will help you improve written and oral communications skills; while math and geometry provide the knowledge you need to measure, figure angles and proportions, and handle the financial side of your business, should you become an entrepreneur. Woodworking, metalworking, art, and similar classes will introduce you to shop safety, tools and equipment, drafting, and the principles of good design. Computer and business classes teach you to use the latest software, market your talents and manage your resources. If you’re an adult planning a career change, you should study furniture design books and periodicals, update your computer skills and, if woodworking is a new field for you, gain experience using typical carpentry tools.
A furniture design associate's degree can be offered as part of a Fine Arts department, in a vocational or community college, in a specialized design institute, as woodworking courses offered by master joiners, and in online programs. Make sure your program is accredited, to guarantee instruction satisfies current professional standards. Eligible for financial aid? You’ll find you can only receive it for accredited institutions. What are the backgrounds of your professors? Will you have practicum or internship opportunities? What shop facilities does the school provide? Will you need to relocate? Does the school offer career services, and where have alumni found jobs? Are there flexible class schedules that] accommodate work and family obligations? The answers to these questions will help you select the program that’s best for you.
What you study will be determined by your school’s focus. If your department is part of a fine arts college, your class work will emphasize design and technology as much as it does fabrication. If you’re studying under more traditional instructors, you’ll find the emphasis shifts to classic woodworking techniques. Examples of classes offered in a fine arts or design program include: drawing, color theory, two- and three-dimensional design, electronic design, laminated form, and spatial composition. You’ll use such equipment as AutoCAD software and SolidWorks, laser cutters, and welding, metal fabrication and plastics facilities. Traditional woodworking subjects might include: finishing, turning, millwork, marquetry, dovetails, inlay, cabinet making and miter joints. Both approaches will include technological applications.
Your associate's degree in furniture design opens up many opportunities. You can design furniture for the custom market or manufacturer. If you enjoy administration, you can become a design manager or project director. Use your talents to design exhibits, fixtures, lighting, packaging, or soft goods. Train others as a professor or instructor, or demonstrate traditional carpentry skills as a reenactor. You might enjoy restoring antiques, making custom reproductions, or creating furniture as art. Concerned about the environment? Use your skills to create sustainable products using green materials and processes. No matter which path you choose, you’ll build an enjoyable, profitable career as a furniture designer.
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