How to become a carpenter


What does a carpenter do?

A carpenter is a skilled tradesperson and often plays an important role in the construction industry. Capable of putting together fixtures and fittings and creating bespoke furniture and unique wooden art pieces, experienced carpenters often set up their own companies and go on to run successful and fulfilling businesses.

Carpenters play a vital role in the construction industry from putting down floorboards to fitting skirting and window frames. They will work on both commercial and domestic projects and projects can be extremely varied.

Carpenters and joiners have pretty similar roles and there is a lot of crossover, but typically a joiner will be involved in making the wood pieces or constructions that a carpenter then installs on site. Joinery also tends to involve cutting and fitting joints of wood without screws, metals or fasteners i.e. wooden doors.

Both jobs are highly skilled and require a good knowledge of woodwork, power tools, design and construction. 

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According to Go Construct, the work of a carpenter entails the following;

  • Measures, marks, cuts, shapes, fits and finishes timber – either by hand or with power tools
  • Restores and recreates historical buildings as part of heritage projects
  • An excellent working knowledge of wood, the various types and uses, as well as knowing how the finished product will fit into a house or building
  • Ability to use a wide range of tools 
  • The opportunity to work outside and erect supporting frames for giant projects such as bridges, roads, dams, and buildings
  • Other projects will require work inside commercial and residential buildings  
  • Installs floor joists, floorboards, roof trusses and wall partitions
  • Fits interior woodwork (staircases, doors, skirting boards, cupboards, kitchens)
  • Understands technical drawings
  • Has expert knowledge in different types of wood and its uses

Read our blog on: Hiring an Apprentice

What skills does a carpenter need?

Carpenters should have a head for numbers in order to calculate angles and measurements as well as having good woodwork skills. Organisational skills are also a must along with strong communication skills as carpenters often conduct work for clients in their homes.

What qualifications do I need?

The National Careers Service suggest taking a college course such as:

Level 2 Diploma in Bench Joinery

Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course

4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

 how to become a carpenter


On average a carpenter will start on between £17,000 and £24,000, rising to £35,000 the more experience you gain. The working week will be around 35-40 hours and work can be spread across a range of different sites and locations. This career path could lead to construction management or start your own business, according to Randstad.

Insurance for carpenters

Whether you work as a sole trader or as part of a team of carpenters and joiners, all of your hard work could be undone in an instant if the worst were to happen and someone has an accident which leaves one of your customers at a financial loss, or even worse, with a severe injury. If you are liable, you may be ordered to pay a substantial amount in compensation to the injured party.

If you are employ staff to help you with your business, the risks are even greater, and you could find yourself being held liable for accidents or illnesses that may happen to those working for you.

All in all, can you afford not to protect yourself and your business from the risks carpenters face on a daily basis?

Here at, we’re here to help you make the right insurance choice to protect yourself.

5 training courses for carpenters

Able Skills – This short and intensive City & Guilds course is perfect for those wanting an introduction course to carpentry skills. A hands-on course covering a range of useful carpentry skills and is an ideal course for those thinking about pursuing a career in carpentry.

Construction Skills College offers 10-day courses aimed at giving you the skills to complete a number of first and second fix site carpentry jobs such as building stud walls at different angles and with openings, install door frames and hanging doors including fixing all furniture, boxing in pipework, building and fixing meter boxes, cutting and fixing skirting and architrave, building a window sill and installing laminate flooring.

Train4All – provides NVQ Level 2 and 3 qualifications in wood occupations, carpentry apprenticeships, and site carpentry.

The Building Training Centre – offers 5-day (or splitter weekend) Foundation Carpentry Courses at The Builder Training Centre  which are practical and ‘hands-on’ courses, making these ideal for beginners looking to learn carpentry and joinery for DIY or handyman skills or experienced people looking to extend their trade skills or perfect their carpentry and joinery skills.

Fullager Construction Skills Centreprovides a short 5-day intensive course and a 20-day City & Guilds Level 1 course in Joinery.

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Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points to create this article and the information provided is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this blog for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.

Kim is a Content Manager and PR Manager.She writes for the marketing team at, creating blog posts, guides, and press releases for the company.