French polisher

Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for french polisher

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use traditional hand skills to prepare and treat wood. You’d work on new furniture or restore old pieces of furniture.

You might also work on fitted items such as staircases, wall panels and doors, and musical instruments like pianos.

You would:

  • Decide on the type and colour of wood stain
  • Calculate quantities
  • Mix and apply the stain
  • Finish with French polish (a special varnish)
  • Apply several coats of French polish until the finish you want is achieved
  • Apply other finishes, such as lacquer, paint, varnish, oil and wax, usually by spraying

You may also do simple carpentry and repairs, although a cabinet maker or restorer would deal with more complex work.

Customers will expect you to be careful with their furniture; it will help if you are patient and methodical in your work. You’d estimate the costs of the work and explain it to customers.

If you’re self-employed you’ll need to deal with the business paperwork.

Working conditions


At a factory, you will usually work around 40 hours a week, sometimes including shift work. As a self-employed French polisher you will arrange your own working times, sometimes including long hours and weekends to meet deadlines.


You may travel occasionally to collect and deliver furniture or to carry out work on-site. A driving licence may be needed.


You would work in a factory or workshop.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Taking responsibility
  • Making decisions
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Problem solving

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role.

Some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 especially for Modern Apprenticeships.

You can enter a Furniture National Certificate courses (SCQF level 5) with two National 5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Art and design (required by many courses)
  • Maths (required by many courses)
  • Other design-centred subjects
  • Practical technologies subjects

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative and craft skills such as Skills for Work Construction Crafts (SCQF level 4/5) or a Higher National Certificate in Furniture (SCQF level 7).

Once in a job you may gain relevant qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Finishing Furniture: Hand Finishing or Spray Finishing (SVQ level 2) or Finishing Furniture (SVQ level 3).