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How to become a carpenter

Boasting a versatile skillset and plenty of job opportunities, it’s never been a better time to become a carpenter. Read on to learn about how to become a carpenter, including information on the qualifications for a carpenter to succeed.

Why should you become a carpenter?

While you might not think to look at them, wood is a vital structural element in plenty of modern buildings.

In fact, wood is such an essential material in the construction industry that the need for carpentry has rarely declined.

From fitting doorways on construction sites to building sets and stages in theatres, carpentry offers a wide range of jobs.

And that means that skilled and hard-working carpenters are always in demand throughout the country.

So, if you’re interested in pursuing a career that lets you work with your hands. Or you want the satisfaction that comes with working with such a versatile material. Read on the find out everything your need to know about how to become a carpenter.

What does a carpenter do?

As you may already have guessed, being a carpenter involves working with wood in a variety of different environments.

Specifically, however, a carpenter’s job involves the creation and fitting of different wooden structures, furniture, and building frames.

This may be as part of a larger, site-wide project, or it could simply be for a quick domestic job. Either way, a carpenter will make use of several specialist and unique tools to get the job done.

What is the difference between a carpenter and a joiner?

More often than not, especially when looking at the qualifications for a carpenter, you might see them placed alongside joiners.

This is because, on the surface, carpentry and joinery are very similar jobs. However, there are several distinct differences between becoming a joiner and becoming a carpenter.

However, while both work with wood, carpentry is focused primarily on working with wood across a wide range of industries.

Joiners, on the other hand, work mainly on wood pieces and constructions that a carpenter may later install. They also tend to create items that use no screws or metal fasteners, leaning more towards bespoke craftsmanship.

What does a typical carpenter’s day look like?

When it comes to becoming a carpenter, you’re likely going to find yourself doing a range of activities each day.

For example, you could be measuring boards in a workshop in the morning, then installing window frames in the afternoon.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Below is a more in-depth list of what you might do on any given day as a carpenter:

  • Discussing plans and job instructions with clients
  • Marking and measuring wood for cutting, maintaining, or repairing
  • Cutting and shaping wood for a variety of surfaces, such as doors, skirting boards, window frames, etc…
  • Building and fitting structures, such as door frames and roof timbers
  • Putting together fitted and free-standing furniture
  • Installing various cupboards and shelving units
  • Fitting different store interiors
  • Constructing stages and sets for the entertainment industry
  • Carrying out repairs and maintenance
  • Testing wooden constructions for safety purposes

As you can see, becoming a carpenter offers a lot of work variety.

Of course, you don’t have to work in all these areas. Many carpenters choose to specialise in a few core areas that interest them the most.

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What skills are needed for becoming a carpenter

With so many jobs to carry out as a carpenter, it should come as no surprise that carpentry is a hard trade to master.

And it’s not just learning to work with wood that you’ll need to become an expert in.

To truly excel at carpentry, you’ll also need to develop the following skills:

  • A thorough understanding of building and construction
  • Attention to detail and accuracy in your workmanship
  • A good mathematical understanding
  • Teamwork and people skills
  • The ability to work solo when required
  • Verbal communication
  • An Understanding of building codes and safety regulations

On top of these skills, you’ll also need to become familiar with the different tools of the trade. Fortunately, we go into plenty more detail on what these are in our blog on the best tools for carpenters.

How much does a carpenter make

How do you train to become a carpenter?

When it comes to carpentry, and indeed any trade, the best way to learn is through college or an apprenticeship. There are plenty of courses out there, including ones specifically for women in carpentry. As well as many other beginner classes.

A college course, for example, will teach you the basics and help you to apply the theory with practical assessments. There are many to choose from as well. Letting you specialise in site carpentry, architectural construction, and even furniture making.

However, a college course can only get you part of the way.

Once you’ve completed this sort of training, your next stop should be an apprenticeship.

Whether you pick an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship is up to you, but all will let you learn on the job and get paid at the same time.

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What qualifications do you need to be a carpenter?

When it comes to the required qualifications to become a carpenter, we recommend pursuing the following qualifications:

  • A Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
  • A Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Site Carpentry
  • A T Level in On-Site Construction

Any one of these is a great place to begin learning carpentry and lets you take future advanced courses.

And as an aside, we also highly recommend getting a CSCS card if you plan to work as a construction carpenter.

A CSCS card is a legal requirement for anyone working on a construction site. You will not be able to do so without one.

Do you need qualifications to become a carpenter?

Although we recommend getting qualified when becoming a carpenter, having qualifications is not a legal requirement for this trade.

However, acquiring the necessary qualifications to become a carpenter comes with numerous benefits.

For one thing, you’ll learn how to do this trade properly, preparing you for more advanced jobs down the line. And on top of this, qualifications show prospective customers that you know what you’re doing, helping to build trust.

How to get more experience as a carpenter

Once you’ve passed your initial carpentry training, there are several ways you can upskill yourself.

First and foremost, taking more advanced courses in woodworking will allow you to find your carpentry niche. As well as enabling you to hone your skills in a safe environment.

Second, you could always look to work in a dedicated carpentry area, such as theatre or film. This will allow you to become an expert in that field, providing a niche service that’s highly sought after.

Finally, if you’re feeling confident and want to step out on your own, you could start your own carpentry business. Just remember that there’s a lot more to doing this than simply choosing a carpentry business name and jumping straight in.

Where should you apply for carpentry jobs?

There are a variety of ways that you can reach out and apply for new carpentry jobs.

You could browse job search or company websites, or spend your time networking. And if you set up your own business, you can find more work through marketing.

Of course, you could pick an online directory, like Checkatrade, where thousands of customers search for reputable traders every day.

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Get more work as a carpenter with Checkatrade

As the number one online jobs directory in the UK, Checkatrade is perfectly positioned to help you find more work.

Once you’re a qualified carpenter, you can sign up with your business and start taking advantage of our membership bonuses.

Checkatrade members get exclusive access to numerous member benefits and discounts, including on insurance and tools.

Get in touch today to learn more about how we vet our tradespeople.

carpentry apprenticeships for adults

Carpenter training FAQs

How long does it take to become a carpenter?

As carpentry is such a skilled role, it can take several years to become qualified. For example, if you take a college course and apprenticeship, it may take three years to become a carpenter.

However, it’s important to remember that you have a lot to learn. You’ll need this time to get a good understanding of what’s required in this job and to hone your skills.

How much do carpenters earn?

Much like any trade, the average salary that a carpenter can earn will usually depend on experience.

If you’re just starting out, you’re salary might average out at £17,000 a year. However, if you’re a skilled carpenter, this could increase to as much as £38,000.

For more insight into a carpenter’s salary, we suggest reading our piece on how much carpenters can earn.

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