A carpenter plays a pivotal role in the construction industry due to the specialised knowledge and woodwork techniques essential when adding the touches such as door frames, to a building. To become a carpenter, you have to cultivate an aptitude towards working with wood, to be able to put together the wooden structures, fixture and fittings buildings require.
To be a carpenter, mathematics is important as is honing your problem solving skills. While there are no specific qualifications required to become a carpenter, you should look towards gaining on the job experience. An apprenticeship with an existing company is the best when to get on-site carpentry experience. It also allows you to earn, while you gain experience. You could also work as a carpenter assistant and learn the necessary skills and get work experience that will help you become a professional carpenter. This is an ideal option if you are also gaining qualifications by following a carpentry course.
If you would like paper qualifications to supplement your on-the-job training try enrolling in a carpentry course, at your local college. It is essential to develop your mathematical skills and the ability to understand detailed plans and drawings, where every millimetre makes the difference. Dexterity is vital as you will also have handle power tools regularly.
Is becoming a carpenter right for you?
Being a carpenter requires a certain amount of creativity or a love of creating. Sometimes you can let your creativity take over, other times you will have to create according to drawings, plans and pre-determined specifications. As your experience grows you will find work opportunities growing as well giving you the chance to work on ornate furniture or even film sets, depending on your skills.
What skills should a carpenter have?
Some basic skills that will help you in your carpenter career choice:
- You will need excellent hand eye coordination
- You will need to be in good physical condition, as it involved strenuous work and regular handling of power tools
- Attention to detail is essential to ensure overall design quality and finish
- Ability to see the complete picture, which is helpful when building, for example kitchen cabinets, to ensure a cohesiveness to the design
- Have an in depth knowledge of different types of wood and what they can be used for
- Follow instructions closely and work hard
- Ability to communicate and work alongside others
- Adaptive thinking to make on the spot changes if and when necessary
What does a carpenter do?
Whether on a commercial project or a domestic property, a carpenter’s job role is varied and interesting. You will have a multitude of responsibilities from adding door and window frames to laying down floorboards and skirtings.
Some of the main functions of a carpenter include:
Constructing wooden structures to hold the concrete while it sets. This is called Forming and is primarily used when building bridges and laying foundations for buildings.
Installing wooden structures on site such as support beams, floor beams or door frames. It can also be for finishing touches such as doors, floor skirtings, floorboards and inbuilt cupboards.
Working on commercial properties to make requested wooden structures such as shelving and racks for retail spaces. Usually this will involve creating pre-designed structures, but depending on the experience of the carpenter, there may even be involvement in the initial design process.
Further, there are very specialised sectors that carpenters can train in:
Set design is an interesting work area that is full of hustle and bustle, as you may be working on film sets
Heritage carpentry is a niche area focussing on restoring, renovating or rebuilding historically important buildings. Work on such sites will require a training in traditional carpentry techniques.
Furniture design is another niche field where creativity and design play an important role in creating unique designs or design dream pieces according to customer specifications
How much could you earn as a carpenter?
Carpentry is a specialised sector and as such there is good potential for earning, as a carpenter’s industry know-how and experience develop. On average a carpenter will start on between £17 and £24 which can increase to around to £35 to £45, as skills develop, and experiences increase.
How to get a job even if you don’t have the experience
As mentioned before, the best way to get a job without experience is to work as a carpenter assistant to gain on the job experiences and skills. It is not always easy but it a good way to get into the field and thereafter opt for an apprenticeship. Most important is to show the right attitude towards carpentry to get noticed by trainers and experts, which could lead to offers of permanent employment.
Career path and progression
For a carpenter there are many career options on offer allowing for the development of specialised skills. A normal career path can follow the progression of work as an assistant, apprentice, to a fully fledged carpenter, to a management role such as a project manager, team lead or supervisor. These are high earner roles. Once at this position it is not too big a step to becoming a trainer or starting your own business if you so wished.