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Carpenter

Joiner, woodworker

Carpentry is one of the oldest construction trades and is in high demand. Carpenters use natural materials (wood/timber) to install wooden fixtures and fittings. As a carpenter you could be installing doors, floors and furniture in new builds, renovating or refitting existing structures, building sets for film and theatre companies and much more.

Average salary*

£17000

-

£45000

Typical hours per week

40 - 45

How to become a carpenter

There are several routes to becoming a carpenter or joiner. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a college course or an apprenticeship.

You should explore these routes to find which one is right for you. Although some options will list qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and able to follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

College/training provider

Your local college or training provider may offer carpentry and joinery courses such as a Level 2 Diploma in Bench Joinery or Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery.

You will need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) (level 2 course)
  • 4 - 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) (level 3 course).

Some colleges offer part-time, short courses in carpentry and joinery which could be a good way to find out if working with wood/timber is for you, especially if you have no experience or are thinking of changing career.

Apprenticeship

A construction apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

An intermediate carpentry and joinery apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. If your employer can provide you with the right experiences you could progress onto higher level qualifications or specialise in heritage and historical renovation, or furniture/cabinet making.

You might need GCSEs (including English and maths) to do an apprenticeship, but not all employers ask for formal qualifications.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.

Skills

Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as carpenter include:

  • Ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • Knowledge of building and construction
  • Design skills and knowledge
  • Be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Able to work well with others
  • Able to use your initiative
  • Able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What does a carpenter do?

As a carpenter you will be involved in the design, cutting, and building of furniture using different types of wood. You could be working on site, in clients homes, or in a workshop.

The job role of a carpenter involves the following duties:

  • Measuring, marking up, cutting, shaping, fitting and finishing timber
  • Using a range of hand and power tools
  • Installing floor joists, floorboards, roof trusses and wall partitions
  • Fitting interiors such as staircases, doors, skirting boards, cupboards and kitchens
  • Putting up frames for bridges, roads, dams and buildings
  • Drawing and working with technical drawings
  • Gaining knowledge of different types of wood and their uses
  • Working in residential or commercial buildings
  • Restoring historical buildings
  • Working in a workshop, a client’s business or home, or on a construction site
  • Carrying out jobs in dusty conditions, or working outdoors in all weather and at height.


How much could you earn as a carpenter?

The expected salary for a carpenter varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained carpenters can earn in the region of £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained with experience carpenters can earn in the region of £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior, chartered or master carpenters can earn in the region of £30,000 - £45,000

Salaries depend on location, employer, level of responsibility, and the amount of overtime worked.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest carpenter vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

Experienced carpenters can become supervisors, project managers or team leaders and earn a higher salary.

You could move into different areas within construction such as estimating or contract management, or specialise in an area like heritage restoration or building stage sets.

As a carpenter, you could start your own business or train others.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Carpenter Carpenters prepare and install any part of a building that is made of wood. ...
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  • Current role Construction team leader Take the next step in your career as an Occupational Supervisor. Work with new m...
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  • Current role Self-employed contractor A self-employed contractor or sub-contractor runs his or her own construction bu...
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  • Current role Contracts manager During a construction project, the contracts manager overseas the contracts proc...
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  • Current role Project manager Oversee construction projects from start to finish in order to achieve successfu...
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