Carpentry is one of the oldest construction trades where wood and timber is used to create and fit fixtures, fittings and furniture. To become a carpenter, many people choose to take an apprenticeship, where they can learn and work at the same time.

A full-time apprenticeship is like a full-time job with a study or training element running alongside. You can expect to work around 30 hours per week, plus complete a day of study.

However, some apprenticeships are shorter than others. This guide explains what can affect the length of a carpentry apprenticeship.

It depends on a range of factors

There are several routes to becoming a carpenter or joiner. You can gain the qualifications you need by completing a college course or an apprenticeship, but how long the apprenticeship lasts depends on the following factors:

The level you’re taking

There are three different levels of apprenticeship: intermediate, advanced, and higher & degree. The length of these ranges from one to six years because you can take them part or full-time. As an example, an intermediate carpentry and joinery apprenticeship takes around two years to complete, but up to four years if you study part-time.

The employer taking you on

Your employer may want you to take a specific apprenticeship, so you gain the skills they require to work with them once it’s completed. Your employer will either want you to study for one day each week, this is called day release; or they may need you to alternate weeks of work with a full week of study, which is called block release. This can affect how long it takes to complete the apprenticeship.

Be aware, you may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

The specific industry you work in

Carpenters work across various industries, so you might need more specific skills covered in a longer apprenticeship or be able to take a shorter one. For example, carpenters may work as building finishing contractors or in commercial construction and these will come with different skill sets.

Whether you’re part time or full time

As a part-time apprentice, you’ll work fewer hours over a longer period of time. A part-time degree apprenticeship might last four – six years instead of the usual three – five. Just how many will need to be negotiated with your employer, but most offer enough flexibility to work around your other life commitments.

Find out more about a career as a carpenter

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16, but it’s not the only route available to you. To learn more about a career as a carpenter and how to become one, see our page "What is a carpenter?" or browse carpentry apprenticeships via Talentview.

You can find an apprenticeship near you or read our guide to apprenticeships.