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Joiners work with wood to create staircases, windows and doors, furniture, kitchens, cupboards and interior woodwork.


Average salaries are in the region of £14,000.00 to £30,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Joiners work with wood to create staircases, windows and doors, furniture, kitchens, cupboards and interior woodwork.

What they do

Joiners work mostly in workshops or factories but can go out to fit on site, such as a staircase or cupboards into a house. Joiners have very varied, responsible and creative careers. They make items that are practical or beautiful – or both – for our homes, workplaces and public places.

Some construction jobs in joinery involve working with specialist companies that make woodwork to order. Some joiners work on fascinating heritage projects that require traditional skills to preserve, repair or recreate woodwork from the past or restore historic buildings. At the other end of the scale are large joinery factories that mass produce standard windows, doors or furniture.

Working in construction as a joiner involves:

  • Learning the uses of different types and grades wood and choosing the right one for the job
  • Understanding technical drawings and how their work will fit within the building
  • Cutting wood on machines or by hand, measuring and marking it according to the design. 

Joiners use a range of equipment from traditional tools such as saws, chisels, rulers and drills through to state-of-the-art computerised cutting equipment and hi-tech drawing and design software. Their skills are also a valuable mix of traditional and modern craftsmanship.

Types of roles and career progression

Qualified joiners are in high demand across the country and valuable woodworking skills are a reliable and satisfying way to make a living.

After several years' experience, joiners and bench joiners can specialise or take on roles with greater responsibility, such as:

Setter-out

A setter-out combines drawing skills on CAD with hi-tech design to get everything ready for joiners to begin cutting wood. The overall purpose of the job is to produce detailed drawings from design specifications/draft drawings using CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) technology and agree these with internal or external customers.

A setter-out  may work closely in an experienced CAD team, alongside professionals in other construction jobs such as contracts managers, architects, and quantity surveyors. They are  responsible for all CAD work on a variety of project types such as high-end joinery and retail fit-outs including airports, office fit-outs, hotels, large properties and estates.

The job also includes:

  • Doing site surveys
  • Working with suppliers and sub-contractors
  • Producing cutting lists
  • Creating design drawings
  • Producing sketches of the work needed and specifications
  • Producing bills of quantities
  • Drafting job briefs for work to be done

CNC operator

A CNC operator uses a computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine to cut and shape wood and other materials into specialised shapes. They programme the computer to make the required cutting pattern or effect and also operate and maintain the machinery.

A CNC operator knows about measuring techniques and has experience in using CAD/CAM software. They also need to understand technical drawings and know about the properties of different wood materials.

They work indoors in a workshop or factory and need to be able to tolerate dust. The job involves standing and being mobile, so they need to have a good level of fitness.

Wood Machinist

Wood machinists are key members of the joinery team. Wood machinists need to understand wood as a material, and how to get the best from it. They are responsible for translating drawings into components by setting up a range of machines and processing the timber accurately and efficiently. Wood machining skills are valued and are in high demand in Britain.  

Wood machinists work with a range of machinery including: 

  • Saws
  • Lathes
  • Planers
  • Morticers
  • Moulders
  • Routers

Increasingly, machinists use CAD/CAM design & manufacturing software and wood machinists receive training and operate CNC wood cutting/shaping machinery.

Joinery estimator

A joinery estimator works out how much time and money it will take to make an item from timber. 

To get the sums right, joinery estimators need a good knowledge of wood materials, technical drawing and joinery production methods. They must make the most cost-effective use of wood to keep the customer happy. That means doing the maths for the total cost of the joinery work by combining material costs with production time and costs.

The responsibilities that come with the role vary, depending on the size of the company. In larger firms the role may be more administrative, working off set lists of calculations to price up jobs. In small and medium-sized companies, an estimator needs more specialist knowledge in the natural characteristics of wood and the joinery production process. 

An estimator's role includes: 

  • Dealing with customers directly
  • Creating desgins and estimating prices
  • Understanding technical drawings
  • Using Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Sourcing materials
  • Quoting for work to be done
  • Answering client queries
  • Liaising with the joinery production team, sub-contractors and customers

Joinery foreman

A joinery foreman is responsible for running a joinery workshop – from every member of staff that arrives in the morning to every wooden item that goes out the door. 

This role includes:

  • Managing staff
  • Supporting apprentices' learning
  • Managing wood and timber-based materail levels
  • Overseeing production output and quality
  • Managing production schedules and budgets
  • Maintaining and developing product quality
  • Developing staff skills
  • Producing progress reports to company management

They also have responsibility for ensuring a steady supply of materials, and monitor how fast and how well the bench joiners and apprentices on the production team are working.

Hours & Salary:

  • Newly trained bench joiners can earn in the range of £14,000 - £17,000
  • Trained with experience bench joiners can earn in the range of £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior/master craft bench joiners can earn in the range of £30,000 - £40,000

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


 

Get more information about the whole range of construction roles available with our Careers Explorer A-Z.

You can also take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Kieran - Apprentice Joiner|0:44
Carla - Carpentry and Joinery|2:05

Carla Williams is a joiner apprentice with Morrison Facility Services, which does council house maintenance and repairs.

What do you do?

I do more than carpentry. I also make and fit doors and also do bits of plastering, plumbing, tiling and floor tiling. All different things really. I just love being able to do my own thing, going out and leaving my own little stamp everywhere.

How did you get started?

I’m studying for a Carpentry and Joinery Level 3 apprenticeship at South Birmingham College through the CITB. I got into this apprenticeship because my brother also does carpentry and joinery and I wanted to be able to do all the things that he’s capable of doing, like working on improvements to his own house.  

What’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

The best thing I’ve done and the thing I’m most proud of in the last three years is a Level 3 practical exam which is a hipped roof, simply because I got to build it from scratch.

What do you enjoy about your job?

What I like most about my apprenticeship is being able to learn on the job the same thing that I’m learning at college. My employers do push me a lot to keep going and going and going and saying, “What are you doing next?” They’re the questions you get all the time. I like doing lots of things obviously, because it puts you in a better position to learn more and keep going into the different trades. You don’t have to wait around for the other trades, you can sort of do it all yourself.

Your big ambition?

I’d like to be a contracts manager. That’s somebody who oversees the contract of a big organisation, makes sure that everything’s going right and makes people do what they’re supposed to do, really.

Advice on how to get into construction?

If you’re thinking of doing it just get up and do it. Don’t think about it do it!

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the many careers in construction is right for you

Qualifications & Training

There are no formal requirements to be a joiner but useful subjects to study at school include design and technology, maths and English, with GCSE exam grades A*-C or equivalent such as the Welsh Baccalaureate or BTECs.

In Scotland, the best way to become a joiner or carpenter is through a Modern Apprenticeship. This involves a four-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).

Employers will be interested in anything that shows you have an interest in woodwork, including things you made at school or when working alongside a carpenter or joiner.

A good way to start working in construction as a joiner is to apply for an apprenticeship with an employer you’d like to work for. The best apprenticeships are Bench Joinery or Wood Machining. Other qualifications available include Level 2 Award in Timber & Panel Products and their uses, Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Wood Machining, and City & Guilds Basic Construction Skills: Carpentry & Joinery.

To find an apprenticeship, visit the Government's website in England, or Career Wales in Wales, or World of Work for Scotland.  

For more information on woodworking careers visit:

As your career goes on, On-site Assessment and Training (OSAT) can add to your qualifications in wood machining, supervision and team leading, and management. 

Learn more about how to get into construction

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis.  

Looking for a vacancy? 

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

Indeed

Total Jobs

Reed 

 The number of jobs 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

There will be an additional 262,920 construction vacancies in wood trades and interior fit- out occupations (which include bench joiners) in the UK every year from 2017 - 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI). The majority of the demand for these construction jobs will be in North West, West Midlands, closely followed by Wales.

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