Business Today

Wood-Working Careers That Pay 6 Figures A Year

There is nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of fresh wood. Whether you are in a shop or doing a home remodel, the smell of a saw cutting lumber, the smoothness produced by a sander, and the pleasure of seeing a finished product is a tangible reward that few careers can offer.

The downside is that most of this world revolves around digital products and plastic consumables. So where is the hands-on guy supposed to find his place and still make a good income? Hopefully, my list will help you get some ideas and help you pick out a course of study that will be emotionally and financially rewarding.

In a world of $30,000 per year careers, here are some ideas on how to make 6-figures a year while working with wood. Many of these career options do not require you to have a college degree, although having college experience tends to lead to faster results.

Keep in mind that very few of these programs will offer a new college graduate a 6-figure income right away. We are organizing them with the careers that we think will produce the most income the soonest.

In all honesty, we’re probably being a little optimistic to claim that these roles can provide 6 figures. However, $80,000 per year is very do-able in almost all areas, with overtime options available to help push that figure higher.

Mechanical Engineer

You might not think of a mechanical engineer as being involved in woodworking. Granted, they are often used in the industrial world where they design holding tanks and bicycles.

It turns out that mass-produced furniture Is typically designed by mechanical engineers. Most of the mechanical engineers who end up in this field already have an interest in wood-working. Perhaps they have worked as a general laborer, they build furniture in their garage on the weekends, or they run a woodworking blog while they are in college. A good example of this is  Zachary Drumm who runs Tool Tally, a tool review site while going to college in Pensacola and working at a gazebo shop on the weekends.

The mechanical engineer route is ideal as it typically starts out with the highest salary directly following college. However, mechanical engineers spend most of their time working with computers and won’t have as much hands-on time creating the products. They are also more likely to reach their peak income at around $80,000 per year.

The University of Southern California offers one of the most robust Mechanical Engineering Programs in the nation with students who are in high demand around the globe.

Etsy Store

Most small businesses in America fail, so this is one of the least-certain options on the list. However, more and more, people are turning to artisans to make one-of-a-kind products for them to enjoy.

Etsy is a hotbed for these craftsmen, and it can be one of the fastest ways to a 6-figure income.
Some of the top products that are finding a following on Etsy include folks who make custom cutting boards, wine racks and beer holders.

When combined with Google ads or an active Instagram advertising campaign, these businesses can often take off with very little effort.

Additionally, Etsy’s shoppers tend to reward more creative craftsman and allow them to use more creative woods and artistic designs.  Some craftsmen are using innovative ideas such as running high-voltage electricity through the wood to create new patterns or mixing cast-off wood with resins to create mixed-media designs.

Expect this business to start off very slow and to take around 3 to 5 years to build a following. From there, it can scale dramatically.

Construction Management

The Construction Management  Degree is one of the most popular ways to get into a high-paying construction job immediately after graduation.

It commonly took 10 years on the job to gain the skills and respect to be trusted in a foreman role. The construction manager has a similar position, but is typically overseeing a large project and is able to command a much better wage, even as a recent graduate.

Construction managers are likely to earn around $60k right after graduation and can easily hit $80k after a few years on the job. In larger cities or with a willingness to travel, it is possible to make well more than six figures a year.

Construction Management can be completed online or in a traditional school setting and can be either a 2-year or a 4-year degree. You need some experience with working on job sites, and most students spend their summers working as interns to build their resume and to get the best placements.


If you have a few years of experience working in construction, you might find yourself helping friends and family repair their homes. It turns out, this skillset is in high demand.

By running ads on Google, knocking on the doors of every property management company in town and leaving fliers in wealthier neighborhoods, you will find yourself with plenty of business.

Many of these jobs are billed at $30 per hour. Once you get a book of business and are well-known for delivering quick, reliable work, it is quite possible to charge $60 an hour or more.

Both home-owners and property managers get tired of waiting for home-builders and general contractors to free time up on their schedule to come over and do their little projects. By specializing in the small remodels and repairs, it is possible to create a life-changing income with a large amount of variety.

General Contractor

General contractors need more experience in building homes before they begin overseeing a project from start to finish. It also helps if they have a large network of connections within the industry as they will need to work with many small businesses to complete each job.

Homeowners won’t trust just anyone to build their house. However, established general contractors can take 20-30% of profit off the total price of a house as their management fee.

At that rate, you only need to build 3 to 4 homes a year in order to make an excellent profit.

The downside of this role is that it typically takes 5 to 10 years of hands-on construction crew experience before you earn enough trust to be trusted with your own project.

Cabinet Maker

Want to work with wood but don’t want to work outside? A climate-controlled shop might be the ideal choice.

Cabinet makers are masters of their craft, with an eye for detail. The ability to demonstrate patience must be at the forefront of every day, the cabinet maker must take pride in their work and exert careful craftsmanship.

Most Cabinet makers get their start in general construction. After a summer of general labor, they can get hired inside a shop where they begin learning the craft of cabinetry. From there it becomes a matter of saving the capital to acquire your own shop and equipment.

Working with other cabinet shops and general contractors to handle their overflow needs can be a good way to launch the business and to build a name in the industry. Additionally, there is currently a major need for businesses to create custom cabinet fronts for the standard cabinets made by IKEA.