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Carpenter Joiner, bench joiner

Carpenters and joiners make and install wooden structures, fittings and furniture.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 to 45 per week

1. Entry requirements

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.

You'll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a building site.

Go Construct has more information about building careers and training.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • to be able to follow technical drawings and plans
  • maths skills to calculate quantities and angles
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail and make accurate measurements

3. What you'll 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

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £24,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000

Overtime and extra shift pay may increase your income. Self-employed carpenters and joiners set their own rates.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns 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.

6. Career path and 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.

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Last updated: 21 April 2017