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

The Role

  • Measures, marks, cuts, shapes, fits and finishes timber – either by hand or with power tools
  • Restoring and recreating historical buildings as part of interesting heritage projects
  • 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. 
  • Ability to use a wide range of tools 
  • 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.  
  • 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


  • 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.

Qualifications and Training

You don’t need to hold particular qualifications but it’s an advantage to have GCSEs or their equivalent. Subjects such as English, maths, and science would be beneficial.

Employers like to see people with some experience of building sites. 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). 


A Day in the life of...

Tibby Singh Chodha

Tibby Singh Chodha is a carpenter with Interserve

Read moreabout Tibby Singh Chodha

Next Steps


Check out the latest Carpenter vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary. 

Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!

Find out more

For information on the Carpenter role in Scotland please visit the Skills Development Scotland website My World of Work.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which role is right for you.

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