Carpenters work within a range of construction settings, providing skilled labour working with wood or timber.
Ultimately, they are responsible for repairing or creating wooden elements of a building, such as doors, staircases structural beams and bespoke cabinetry.
This detailed guide includes a full Carpenter job description and everything else you need to know about carpenters, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Carpenter job description
- How much do carpenters earn?
- What does a carpenter do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs carpenters?
- Which junior jobs progress to carpenter roles?
Carpenter job description
Carpenter |Sky high conversions
We are a well-established and ambitious loft conversion company, working with the very highest quality timber and state of the art tools to transform loft space in homes across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
About the role
We are looking for a site carpenter to work alongside our plumber and electrician to create the best loft conversions on the Isle of Wight. Working as part of the construction team reporting to the construction manager, the site carpenter will contribute traditional wood craft skills, making and fitting timber elements to help us deliver bespoke extensions to our customers.
- Visiting project sites to take measurements and estimate materials needed for quotations
- Selecting the most appropriate types of timber for each project, in consultation with the customer
- Measuring, shaping and cutting timber to create the loft structure and fittings
- Liaising with other contractors to ensure project deadlines are met
- Interpreting architect plans from Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages
- Installing floorboards, roof supports and wall partitions
- Completing safety checks and risk assessment documentation for working at heights with ladders and on scaffolds
- Making and installing dormer and Velux windows
- Supervising a carpentry apprentice – providing training in the basic carpentry skills and monitoring standards of work
- Cleaning, repairing and maintaining all company tools
Location & commitments
- Permanent full-time position
- Hours are typically 8.00am until 5pm
- Occasional requirement to work evenings or weekends to meet project deadlines
- Sky High Conversions is located near Cowes on the Isle of Wight
- Pass at Level 3 Diploma Carpentry and Joinery
- CSCS card
- A full clean driving licence
- Confident in using the full range of traditional and power tools
- Experience of managing an apprentice is advantageous but not essential
- Candidates must have their own basic tool kit, but power tools will be supplied
Contact us to apply
If you are looking to join a friendly family run business, send your CV to Construction Manager, Sarah Smith, by email: email@example.com
How much do carpenters earn?
Carpenters earn an average salary of £31,787 with opportunities to increase earnings through overtime and career progression
Carpenter salaries in the UK
- Low: £27,000
- Average: £31,787
- High: £37,500
Source: Total jobs
Carpenter salaries will vary hugely depending on;
- The type of employer – e.g. does the carpenter work for a large well-established home developer? Charity or housing association? Small family run furniture shop?
- Employment status – e.g. is the carpenter employed or self-employed?
- The level of qualification held – e.g. does the carpenter have advanced level qualifications?
- Woodwork specialisms – e.g. does the carpenter have additional qualifications or skills that they bring to the role such as a specialism in restoration projects or antiques?
- General salary factors – such as location, state of the economy (for example in a recession there may be a reluctance to invest in new buildings or extensions) and range of candidate experience
For example, an experienced carpenter working for a national firm of house builders on a government backed house building project will earn more than an apprentice carpenter working for a conservation charity.
Bear in mind that these are average figures taken from job advert samples, and they do not include extra benefits such as pension schemes or qualification refresher courses.
What does a carpenter do?
Breaking down the job description jargon, here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that carpenters will carry out in average work week:
- Measuring and cutting wood or timber – Using a variety of hand and power tools including planes, saws and chisels to create sized elements (for example to make cupboards for a new fitted kitchen)
- Fitting and installation – Using cut timber to create and fit furniture and structural elements (for example making and fitting bookcases for a university library)
- Liaising with partnering trades – Working alongside plumbers, electricians and construction specialists to plan activities and ensure deadlines are met
- Drawing – Creating and interpreting drawings by hand and plans from Computer Aided Design (CAD) packages (for example reading CAD designs for a boatbuilding project)
- Installing floorboards, roof supports and wall partitions – Ensuring that the timber lies flat and joins together safely (for example to make a sturdy theatre set for an outdoor theatre company)
- Restoring – Facilitating the restoration of historical buildings as part of a team (for example repairing a stately home wooden front door using materials from the era it was built)
- Making and fitting interiors – In shops, bars, restaurants, offices and public buildings (for example creating private office space within an open plan building)
- Site surveying – Visiting new project sites to plan work and estimating the materials needed for each job
- Risk assessing – Completing safety checks and risk assessment documentation (for example before starting a job on a roof structure)
- Joinery – Carpenters often also carry out bench or site joinery work (for example making and installing doors, furniture, staircases and windows)
- Supervising apprentices – Providing training in the basic carpentry skills to an apprentice and monitoring and assessing standards of work
What do carpenters need?
Carpenters need a range of skills, experience, knowledge and qualifications in order to carry out the job effectively.
Exact requirements will depend on the seniority of each job, as well as the setting, but generally speaking… here’s what’s needed:
Apprenticeship or early career carpenter jobs will usually require the candidate to have had some exposure to working with wood and using basic tools, whether as a hobby or on a voluntary basis. Although some carpentry businesses do hire candidates with no experience for government funded programmes or apprenticeship schemes.
Senior carpenter roles will normally require candidates to have significant experience at a senior level, managing health and safety, risk assessments and dealing with contractors as well as being a highly skilled craftsperson.
Carpenters need a combination of skills to design and produce high quality products and buildings from wood, these include the following:
- Numeracy: Using a variety of mathematical skills to estimate material costs and to measure and cut precisely producing correctly sized elements without waste
- Communication: Written and verbal communication with customers, contractors and colleagues
- Leadership: Managing apprentices or on-site teams
- Monitoring and evaluation: Regularly assessing risks and reviewing project progress to ensure deadlines and quality standards are met
- Problem solving: Finding creative solutions to challenges
- Manual dexterity: Using hand-eye coordination to produce high quality work
- Attention to detail: Meeting exact customer requirements and ensuring elements fit together seamlessly
- Drawing and 3D visualisation: Being able to read drawings and visualise the project in 3D
- Tool handling: Using a wide range of traditional and power tools safely and confidently
And the more industry specific “hard skills” include:
- Materials knowledge: Knowledge of the different types of wood suitable for different projects e.g. hardwood, softwood and sheet materials (e.g. plywood)
- Equipment knowledge: Knowledge of the best tools to use for each task (e.g. traditional tool, handsaw or chainsaw)
- Maintenance knowledge: Knowledge of cleaning, repairing and maintaining tools and equipment
- Construction industry knowledge: An understanding of construction process and building regulations
Qualifications are not essential to work as a carpenter, as many employers value experience and skills over qualifications.
However, there are a number of carpentry qualifications, either as part of an apprenticeship or fulltime at college on a construction industry training course, that are recognised across the profession and will help early career stage candidates (or those seeking a career change) gain the basic skills needed to find their first job.
There are no formal academic entry requirements to begin work as a carpenter, though GCSEs are advantageous.
Post 16 qualifications: Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
The City and Guilds Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery combines both theory and academic study along with practical hands-on learning. It can be studied as a fulltime course or part time at three levels.
At level 1 the Diploma is for candidates who work or want to work as a carpenter or joiner in the construction sector. The course covers basic woodworking joints, and safely using various hand and power tools. Entry requirements vary but providers may specify a minimum of GCSE English and Maths at Grade 4 or above.
Level 2 courses include:
Site Carpentry City & Guilds Level 2 which covers: flooring and roofing, frames, partitions and stairs, carpentry maintenance and operating a circular saw.
Bench Joinery City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma which covers: producing setting out details for bench joinery products (windows frames, doors, stairs), marking out and manufacturing final products.
Entry requirements vary but may require completion of the level 1 Diploma or GCSEs in maths and English. Availability and type of course may vary depending on candidate location.
Level 3 courses include:
Site Carpentry City & Guilds Level 3 which teaches advanced complex skills including mouldings, fixing double doors and setting up/using fixed or transportable machinery.
Bench Joinery Level 3 City & Guilds Diploma which teaches: Setting up and use of fixed and transportable machinery, manufacturing shaped doors and frames and stairs with turns.
Entry requirements vary but may require completion of the level 2 Diploma. Availability and type of course may vary depending on candidate location.
Intermediate or Advanced Apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery
Apprenticeships involve a mix of on-the-job training and spend time on project work, written work and portfolio building with a college or training provider.
Depending on availability in a candidate’s local area, apprenticeships might have a focus on either training to be a site carpenter, architectural joiner or wood product manufacturing operative.
To obtain an apprenticeship candidates usually need: 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship and 2 or more GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme
Candidates will often need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site. CSCS cards are evidence that employees working on construction sites have training and qualifications for the job they do on site.
What is expected of carpenters?
Typically, carpenters will be expected to commit to the following:
- Full time hours – (average 40-45 hours per week) with overtime required when project deadlines are approaching
- Some weekend work if projects require extra input to meet customer deadlines
- Location – may have a workshop or employers base but usually out on project sites
- Regular travel to project sites to carry out work and monitor progress
- Working at height – may need to work on a roof or scaffolding
- Working outdoors – continuing the project in any weather is a requirement for some roles
- Working in dusty environments – workshops, wood machining areas and timber yards are frequently dusty and candidates should bear this in mind
Benefits will vary depending on the employer but may include:
- Bonuses – some carpenters working for larger firms may benefit from bonuses, for example if a project is completed ahead of schedule
- Pension – although many carpenters are self-employed, those working for employers will receive at least a basic pension
Who employs carpenters?
Due to the ongoing need for building and repair projects to be undertaken across all sectors of the UK, carpentry skills are in high demand across all industries in both the private and the public sector.
Large national and international companies tend to employ carpenters frequently, smaller organisations may need carpenters on a short-term project basis and many carpenters choose to set up as self employed.
Typical carpenter employers:
- Housing developers
- Housing associations
- Construction firms
- Conservation charities
- International aid agencies
- Individual households
- TV and film companies
Which jobs progress to carpenter roles?
There are a number of jobs which may see employees naturally progress into specialist carpenter roles. These include:
Entry level role assisting specialised craftspeople on construction sites by moving or clearing materials, cleaning, loading and unloading materials, digging trenches or laying foundations.
Computer numerically controlled (CNC) technician
Supporting the construction, engineering and manufacturing industries by using computer driven tools to craft precision components.
Cutting and preparing timber for use in wood products in the building and manufacturing industries as well as for D.I.Y shops.
Which senior jobs do carpenters progress to?
Even though being a carpenter is a rewarding career choice in its own right, it can also be a springboard into more senior and higher paid jobs, such as:
Carpenters may be interested in progressing into a wider construction manager role, responsible for day to day operations on a construction site, managing a team of people and ensuring projects deliver on time and on budget.
Some carpenters take higher level qualifications such as HNC or degrees to become a master craftsperson, highly skilled and specialised in one aspect of carpentry.
Small business owner
Many carpenters go on to set up their own small business employing other staff or apprentices and taking on the business tasks of bidding for new work, marketing and accountancy.
Carpenter job description – conclusion
Carpentry is a highly skilled job with consistent demand across the UK from a wide range of employers in all sectors.
It pays above the national average salary, offers challenging and rewarding work as well as plenty of opportunities for candidates to set up their own business, specialise in a particular field or find employment across the UK and around the world.