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Helping you find a career in Carpentry

Carpenters and joiners work with wood to build beautiful pieces of furniture, vital fittings on building sites and joists and components of all sorts of structures. This is the perfect industry from someone with creative design skills but also an eye for the functional.

If you are a practical person and looking for a useful career that uses your hands, a career in carpentry could be for you. You’ll need to be good at planning and be accurate, have a natural affinity for problem solving and want to work out in the world rather than in an office. You’ll need a strong eye for aesthetics, too.

Types of jobs within carpentry

Where you opt to work depends on your specific skills. Carpenters work both inside and outdoors, with hours flexible depending on the project and the deadlines they are working towards.

Many carpenters work freelance, on one-off jobs or short-term contracts, working on particular projects to completion. As your skills will be in demand from both industry and individuals, you should never be short of work.


Skills & interests required for a career in Carpentry
Trade jobs such as carpentry are often very physical, meaning you’ll need to be able to work long hours. Teamwork and communication are also important as you will often be working in potentially dangerous situations with heavy materials. You may also need technical skills and professional qualifications, although this is not essential.

Carpentry and similar industries are often customer facing, which means that a variety of skills are essential. Your organisation, management and ability to see the bigger picture will also be incredibly important. You may also need to deal with budgets or offer quotations to customers, so a head for numbers is likely to be useful.
- Numeracy
- Teamwork
- Time Management
- Verbal Communication
Graduate schemes & other typical career progression routes in Carpentry
Progression within trades areas such as carpentry means managing teams, taking on more extensive projects, and potentially setting up your own business. You’ll need to be driven and have an entrepreneurial mindset for the latter. If you’re in a company, a clear progression path is likely to be available to you.

Becoming a member of a professional body will help you to improve your skills over time. You should also continue to grow your skills throughout your employment by taking professional qualifications.
Tips for getting into the field
There are a large number of general, non-industry-related things that you can do to put yourself in a good position to start applying for jobs within companies, if that’s what you want to do. These include:

  • Tailoring your CV for each specific role - making sure you focus on previous experience and relevant skills

  • Applying for internships and/or work experience – this is a no-brainer: as well as ensuring that you’ve experienced the field before you start applying for jobs within it, it’ll show that you’re committed and allow you to start acquiring the practical skills you’ll need in your future job

  • Take on similar roles – for example as a carpentry assistant or similar

  • See what the top companies in the field require – start by looking for case studies, and note what backgrounds and skills current employees have
  • Get the relevant accreditation – if you feel a carpentry qualification or course is necessary, go for it

  • Use your contacts – those you met on work experience, previous employers, people you can approach through social media or LinkedIn – they’re all potentially the stepping stone to your next role, and they might very well be happy to help you


If you don’t want to work within a company, you should start thinking about and developing your personal brand as an independent contractor.
How much can graduates earn in Carpentry?
Depending on experience as a carpenter and the number of year you’ve been working, as well as your reputation, you could be earning minimum wage or earning up as high as a six-figure salary.

Newly qualified carpenters can earn around £15,000 a year, but this can also rise quickly to around £25,000. Highly experienced carpenters and joiners can easily earn over £40,000. If you launch your own business, the sky’s the limit.
What qualifications do I need for a career in Carpentry?
If you want to pursue a career in trades after university, your degree probably won’t have given you the exact practical skills needed. You may need to take up a professional qualification in your chosen trade, for example at a local technical college, in order to get the practical skills needed for the job. Because every area of this industry is specialised, you will need to pass a professional qualification in order to secure a permanent role.

You’ll need practical experience in order to learn what those in your chosen trade do day to day, so contact companies directly and ask if you can shadow a member of staff or come in for work experience during your free time.

For carpentry, you will also need to demonstrate that you have the design skills needed for a role. You need a high level of skill to become a carpenter, so experience within a design studio or in a workshop will give you the skills needed.

Once trained, you should also be able to find shift work through recruitment agencies. You will often be employed on a job by job basis. You should also be aware that casual work in areas including building and carpentry is easier to find during the summer months.

Later, you may decide that postgraduate qualifications in specific areas are what is needed to progress in your career.
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