Motor vehicle upholsterer

motor vehicle upholstery


Motor vehicle upholsterers create manufacturing templates, manufacture and assemble interior components for cars, buses, trucks etc. They use power tools, hand tools and shop equipment to prepare and fasten materials. They also inspect incoming materials and prepare the vehicle interior for trim items.

Motor vehicle upholsterers typically do the following:

  • remove old upholstery and linings from vehicles
  • take measurements and select appropriate materials to be used
  • measure and cut materials to fit the desired shapes, using a variety of hand and electric cutting tools
  • sew materials together and fasten in place
  • finish with trims and edging.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to motor vehicle upholsterer:

bus upholsterer
car trimmer
bus trimmer
lorry upholsterer
truck trimmer
car upholsterer
truck upholsterer
motorcycle upholstery worker
truck upholstery worker
bus upholstery worker
coach upholstery worker
lorry trimmer
motorcycle trimmer
coach trimmer
lorry upholstery worker
car upholstery worker
motorcycle upholsterer

Working conditions

Motor vehicle upholsterers can work for specialist automotive repair firms, crash repair firms, car manufacturers or companies that build or repair marine craft. If they are self-employed, they can visit clients’ homes to give estimates, and collect and deliver vehicles.

In a full-time job, motor vehicle upholsterers usually work a standard number of hours per week. If they are self-employed, they can arrange their own working hours, depending on how much work they have.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as motor vehicle upholsterer.

Training is acquired through apprenticeship or traineeship in Automotive Body Repair Technology or Automotive and Marine Trimming Technology, and on-the-job.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Motor vehicle upholsterer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Motor vehicle upholsterer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to motor vehicle upholsterer.

marine upholsterer
aircraft interior technician
railway car upholsterer
aircraft de-icer installer
motorcycle assembler

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of motor vehicle upholsterer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of motor vehicle upholsterer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

instrumentation engineering technician
electromechanical engineering technician
pulp control operator
microsystem engineering technician
machinery assembly supervisor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of motor vehicle upholsterer.

  • Upholstery tools: Set of tools used for upholstering furniture, walls and floors such as staple gun, foam cutter, staple remover.
  • Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of motor vehicle upholsterer.

  • Apply preliminary treatment to workpieces: Apply preparatory treatment, through mechanical or chemical processes, to the workpiece preceding the main operation.
  • Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
  • Carry out measurements of parts: Operate measurement instruments to measure parts of manufactured objects. Take into consideration specifications of manufacturers to perform the measuring.
  • Align components: Align and lay out components in order to put them together correctly according to blueprints and technical plans.
  • Use power tools: Operate power driven pumps. Use hand tools or power tools. Use vehicle repair tools or safety equipment.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Read standard blueprints: Read and comprehend standard blueprints, machine, and process drawings.
  • Read engineering drawings: Read the technical drawings of a product made by the engineer in order to suggest improvements, make models of the product or operate it.
  • Fasten components: Fasten components together according to blueprints and technical plans in order to create subassemblies or finished products.
  • Use technical documentation: Understand and use technical documentation in the overall technical process.
  • Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of motor vehicle upholsterer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Mechanics of motor vehicles: The way energy forces interact and affect components in motor vehicles such as cars, buses, invalid carriages and other motorised vehicles. 

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of motor vehicle upholsterer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Sew textile-based articles: Sew different products based on textiles and wearing apparel articles. Combine good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and physical and mental stamina.
  • Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
  • Provide customized upholstery: Install custom upholstery, according to the customer’s individual requests and preferences.
  • Use manual sewing techniques: Use manual sewing and stitching techniques to manufacture or repair fabrics or textile-based articles.
  • Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
  • Manufacture fabric furnishings: Fabricate and design curtains, seat coverings, carpets and other fabric furnishings by cutting and sewing fabric and other materials.
  • Install transport vehicle interior components: Use hand and power tools to install interior components of boats, aircrafts and railway cars such as seats, armrests, floor coverings, lining, storage compartments or lavatories.
  • Install floor coverings: Install carpets and other floor coverings by taking the correct measurements, cutting the fabric or material at the appropriate length and using hand and power tools to fix them to the floors.
  • Install automotive electrical equipment: Place electrical circuits and wiring in vehicles such as lighting and voltage gauges. These distribute and regulate electrical power and supply it to meters and other devices in the car.
  • Upholster transport equipment’s interior pieces: Upholster seats and other transport equipment interior pieces by using hand and power tools.
  • Analyse the need for technical resources: Define and make a list of the required resources and equipment based on the technical needs of the production.
  • Install car electronics: Place electrically operated accessories in vehicles such as batteries which power heating systems, radios and anti-theft systems.
  • Cut fabrics: Cut fabrics and other wearing apparel materials considering measures, placement of the fabrics in the cutting table in multiple layers, and making the most efficient usage of the fabric avoiding waste. Cut fabrics by hand, or using electric knives, or other cutting tools depending on the fabric. Use computerised systems or automatic cutting machines.
  • Sew pieces of fabric: Operate basic or specialised sewing machines whether domestic or industrial ones, sewing pieces of fabric, vinyl or leather in order to manufacture or repair wearing apparels, making sure the threads are selected according to specifications.
  • Install wall coverings: Install curtains, wall panels, window shields and other wall coverings by taking the correct measurements, cutting the fabric or material at the appropriate length and using hand and power tools to fix them to the walls.
  • Perform upholstery repair: Repair/restore damaged upholstery for a wide range of vehicles; use materials such as fabric, leather, plastic or vinyl.
  • Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
  • Install transport equipment lighting: Install lighting elements in transport equipment according to blueprints and other technical plans.

ISCO group and title

7534 – Upholsterers and related workers

  1. Motor vehicle upholsterer – ESCO
  2. Automotive Upholsterer/Trimmer | Careers Database | CareersHQ
  3. Featured image: By CZmarlin — the Rambler Ranch collection in Elizabeth, Colorado. See: – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on October 21, 2022

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