Carpenters construct and repair wooden structures, fittings, and furniture.Job Category:
What you will do:
You’ll work as an employee or a self-employed contractor for large and small construction companies. You may work on a construction site, a client’s premises, or in your own workshop.
Depending on where you work, your day-to-day tasks may include:
- discussing plans and following instructions
cutting and shaping timber for floorboards, doors, skirting boards and window frames
- making and fitting wooden structures like staircases, door frames, roof timbers and partition walls
- making and assembling fitted and free-standing furniture
- installing kitchens, cupboards and shelving
- building temporary wooden supports to hold setting concrete in place (shuttering)
- making and fitting interiors in shops, bars, restaurants, offices and public buildings
- constructing stage sets for theatre, film and TV productions
- to be able to follow technical drawings and plans
- knowledge of building and construction
- knowledge of maths (to calculate quantities and angles)
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
As well as:
- the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
- the ability to work well with your hands
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- the ability to work on your own (drive)
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to pay close attention to detail and make accurate measurements
To become a carpenter, you don’t typically need a formal college degree, but you do need to acquire specific skills and knowledge in various subjects related to carpentry. Here are the key subjects and areas of study that can help you become a successful carpenter:
- Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for carpenters. You’ll need to be proficient in measurements, geometry, and algebra to calculate dimensions, angles, and materials accurately.
- Construction Technology: Understanding the principles of construction technology, including building methods, materials, and structural systems, is fundamental for a carpenter.
- Blueprint Reading: Carpenters often work from architectural plans and blueprints. Learning how to interpret and follow these plans is crucial for the accurate execution of projects.
- Woodworking: This is the heart of carpentry. You’ll need to learn how to select and work with various types of wood, including cutting, shaping, joining, and finishing.
Employers usually look for some on-site experience and qualifications. You could start as a joiner’s ‘mate’ or labourer to get site experience. Once working, your employer may offer you training on the job.
You could take a college course in carpentry and joinery to gain some of the knowledge and practical skills needed to improve your chances of finding work in the industry.
You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.
In the UK, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a building site.
Working Hours and Environment:
You’ll usually work 39 to 45 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to work some weekends or evenings to meet construction deadlines.
This is a physically active job. You could work outdoors in all weathers, up ladders and on scaffolding or roofs. You could also work indoors where conditions could be dusty or cramped. You’ll use protective equipment and clothing on all jobs.
You’ll normally travel between sites, and you may need to work away from home at times.
You’ll need a full driving licence and may need your own van and tools.
Career Path & Progression:
With experience, you could become a team leader or project manager.
You could also move into construction estimating and contracts management, or specialise in areas like stage sets or heritage restoration.
You could also start your own business or move into training.