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Carpenter, bench joiner

A joiner works with timber to create a variety of structures integral to many buildings. This can include staircases, windows, doors, furniture and more. As a joiner, you will make and install these structures and fittings in the correct locations.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a joiner

There are several routes to becoming a joiner. You could complete a college course, an apprenticeship, on-the-job training, or apply to an employer directly if you have some experience. 

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can 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 courses to help you train as a joiner, such as: 

  • Level 2 Diploma in Bench Joinery
  • Level 2 Award in Timber & Panel Products
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Wood Machining. 

You'll usually need: 

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

> Equivalent entry requirements explained

> Find a course near you

> Funding advice


You could complete an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery to become a joiner. You could either train as a site carpenter or an architectural joiner.

Both routes will offer on-the-job training and require you to spend time with a college or training provider.

You could also pursue an intermediate apprenticeship as a wood product manufacturing operative.

For an apprenticeship you’ll usually need:

  • Some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent (intermediate apprenticeship)
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths (advanced apprenticeship).

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll 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.

> Find an apprenticeship near you

> Guide to apprenticeships


If you have some basic experience, you could apply directly to a construction company to gain onsite experience as a joiner. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced joiner and progress as your abilities improve.

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 as a joiner. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.

> Find out more about work experience


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

  • Knowledge of building and construction
  • Good attention to detail
  • Knowledge of maths
  • Ability to work well with others
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • Ability to work on your own
  • Sensitivity and understanding
  • Ability to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.

What does a joiner do?

As a joiner, you will be responsible for designing, creating and installing structures, furniture and fittings using wood.

The role of a joiner involves the following duties: 

  • Learning the uses of different types of wood and choosing the right material for the job
  • Understanding technical drawings and how your work will fit within the building
  • Conducting site surveys
  • Creating design drawings, alongside sketches of the work needed and the specifications
  • Measuring and marking wood according to technical designs
  • Cutting wood on machines or by hand
  • Working with suppliers and sub-contractors
  • Producing cutting lists
  • Estimating the materials needed for a job
  • Drafting job briefs
  • Using a range of equipment from traditional tools to state-of-the-art computerised cutting equipment and hi-tech drawing and design software
  • Managing production schedules and budgets
  • Conducting quality checks
  • Producing progress reports for senior managers.

How much could you earn as a joiner?

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

  • Newly trained joiners can earn £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained joiners with some experience can earn £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior joiners can earn £30,000 - £40,000*
  • Self-employed joiners set their own pay rates.

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

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


Check out the latest joiner 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 joiners 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 joiner, you could start your own business or train others.

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