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Carpenters and joiners make and install wooden fixtures and fittings as part of construction projects.


Average salaries are in the region of £5,000.00 to £30,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

A carpenter is a trained craftsperson skilled in woodwork. He or she measures, marks, cuts, shapes, fits and finishes timber – either by hand or with power tools.

What they do

Wood is an essential part of most buildings, and working in carpentry includes working on roofs, floors and walls.

Most construction projects will need carpenters, so the job can take them anywhere, from homes and commercial properties to building sites.

This type of role holds lots of responsibility and is very creative, and carpenters get the opportunity to work on a huge variety of projects. A skilled carpenter is often crucial to restoring and recreating historical buildings as part of interesting heritage projects. Another specialist for carpenters is providing timber elements of complex concrete supports.

Carpentry is one of the most skilled roles in construction, so an excellent working knowledge of wood, its various types and uses is important, as well as knowing how the finished product will fit into a house or building. 

There's a wide range of tools carpenters use for their work: 

  • auger and drills for boring holes
  • cutting wood with saws and chisels
  • fastening their work with clamps
  • plumb-bobs and string lines to give straight lines
  • measure work with rulers, squares, levels and compasses

There’s also the opportunity to work outside and erect supporting frames for giant projects such as bridges, roads, dams and buildings. Other projects will require work inside commercial and residential buildings.  

Typical duties include: 

  • Installing floor joists, floorboards, roof trusses, wall partitions
  • Fitting interior woodwork (staircases, doors, skirting boards, cupboards, kitchens)
  • Understanding technical drawings
  • having expert knowledge in different types of wood and their uses

Salary:

  • Apprentice carpenters can earn between £5,300 and £15,000 a year, depending on their age, stage and where they live
  • Newly trained carpenters can earn in the region of £15,000 - £17,000
  • Trained with experience carpenters can earn in the region of £17,000 - £29,000
  • Senior, chartered or master carpenters can earn in the region of £29,000 - £40,000

Salaries depend on location, employer, level of responsibility, and the amount of overtime worked. Self-employed carpenters set their own pay rates.


 

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Case Study

I work for Interserve Construction Ltd and I’m based in Castleford. I started with a construction apprenticeship at 16. I work on new-builds and refurbishments, with each day bringing new challenges. I follow specifications to build, assemble, install and repair fixtures and structures made of wood.

How did you get started?

I came straight into this role from school and started an apprenticeship at Leeds College of Building. I went to college and worked at the same time so that I was learning and earning straight away.

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed doing woodwork and making things. My passion for woodwork continued throughout school and I achieved an A in my exams. It was inevitable that carpentry and joinery were my future. I sent my CV to CITB and they gave me a list of construction companies that were looking to recruit apprentices. I made contact with Interserve, who offered me the apprenticeship.

What do you enjoy about the job?

I love the job satisfaction. It gives me great pleasure when I see a job through from start to finish and know that the clients will be using something I’ve built. It’s an extremely rewarding feeling.

This appreciation leaves me satisfied with what I have done and motivates me to continue to produce work of the highest standard. As an ambassador for the construction industry, I am invited to schools and colleges to speak to students about careers in construction.

One student saw me win Young Carpenter of the Year on the BBC and said I’d inspired him to become a carpenter. It made me feel really proud to know I’m making people aware of what they can achieve as a construction worker.

What skills do you need?

It is very important to have an eye for detail, to work methodically and manage your time effectively while following technical drawings and plans. It’s essential that you have good maths skills for measuring and working out angles.

I tell young people to work particularly hard at their maths in school because you use it every day. Communication is very important because you have to deal with customers and understand what they are asking for.

Proudest career moment?

In 2012, I entered BBC3’s Young Talent of the Year Competition. I won first place, becoming Young Carpenter of the Year 2012. I think that has been the biggest boost for me. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams.

Where is your career going next?

I’ve enjoyed all the media opportunities and would like to do more. I’d also like to be involved in the development of new talent, whether that is teaching in a school or college or through a TV programme. My dream is to have my own carpentry business eventually.

Any advice on how to get into construction? 

This is a great industry to work in. You need to work hard and have good qualifications to get your trade but if you enjoy working with your hands, this is the job to be in. 

 

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Qualifications & Training

You don’t need to hold particular qualifications but it’s an advantage to have GCSEs or their equivalent. Subjects that are useful in the job are English, maths, resistant materials and science.

Employers like to see people with some experience of building sites. If you don’t have any, you might be asked to do a stint as a labourer to see if construction suits you.

A construction apprenticeship with a carpentry or building firm is a good way in. Some colleges and training providers help by introducing potential apprentices to interested employers. 

As an apprentice you will earn a training qualification known as the diploma or technical certificate and a work-based qualification known as an NVQ. It also includes basic English and maths (called Functional Skills, or Essential Skills in Wales) and Employee Rights & Responsibilities to help in the workplace, along with personal learning and thinking skills.  To find an apprenticeship visit the Government's vacancy website or in Wales, Careers Wales.

If you can’t get on to an apprenticeship, or are swapping careers, training providers and colleges run courses on carpentry and joinery, but may charge fees. Ask for details at your local college. This could help you progress into an apprenticeship.

In Scotland the best way to become a Carpenter/Joiner is through a Modern Apprenticeship.  This involves a 4 year apprenticeship with an employer and a structured training programme in college where you would work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification Level 3 (SVQ Level 3).  More information on what it takes and how to get into the industry in Scotland can be found on the SDS 'my world of work' website.

 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful:

Indeed

Reed

Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

 

Career trends and forecasts

262,920 total people needed

The UK construction industry will need a total of 262,920 wood trades and interior fit- out occupations (which includes carpenters) to meet demand between 2017 until 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI). The majority of the demand for these construction jobs in the UK will be in North West, West Midlands, closely followed by Wales.

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