Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades
Shopfitters are part of the construction industry and make the interiors of shops, offices, restaurants and hotels. They use a wide range of materials including wood, metals, glass and plastic. This work can involve bench joinery in the workshop and also on-site installation and fitting. Shopfitters use traditional hand tools and also specialist machinery.
Shopfitters make and install the units and fittings of commercial buildings such as shops, restaurants, hotels and museums. They use different materials including wood, metal, glass and plastic.
Shopfitting includes several different trades.
A shopfitting joiner makes and assembles bespoke furniture in the workshop.
A wood machinist prepares and shapes the timber using the latest machine technology.
A metal fabricator cuts, shapes, welds and finishes metals.
A setter out prepares drawings to show how the furniture should be put together.
The bespoke furniture is then transported to the site to be installed by a shopfitting site fixer. Final touches, such as handles and decorative fittings, will also be added.
Shopfitters work closely with designers and clients in the preparation of detailed design drawings. Computer Aided Design (CAD) software may be used.
The shopfitter has responsibility for keeping the fit on track.
The shopfitter may have to work with other tradespeople such as electricians, painters and decorators.
Health and safety is very important when using equipment and machinery. Protective clothing may need to be worn, such as goggles and boots.
Sometimes the shopfitter is required to work through the night.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for shopfitters
- Good hand skills
- Maths skills and be able to measure accurately
- Be physically fit as shopfitters spend a lot of time on their feet and might have to move heavy materials and equipment
- Be able to work quickly and accurately, as much of the work is done to a deadline
- IT skills, knowledge of CAD software is useful
- Be comfortable working at heights
- An awareness of the importance of health and safety in the industry
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of shopfitters
- Shopfitting firms. These are often small businesses.
- Experienced shopfitters can be self-employed.
Qualifications and training required
Many people enter the profession on an apprenticeship with a shopfitting or building company, for example, an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Construction Building.
Various relevant qualifications are available from organisations such as City & Guilds and Edexcel, for example, a level 3 NVQ in Wood Occupations – Shopfitting Bench Joinery.
In Scotland, entry to this career is usually via a Modern Apprenticeship. In most cases passes at National 4 or 5, to include English, Maths and a technical subject are helpful. It's possible to move into this career after working in another trade first, such as carpentry and joinery. A driving licence may be useful.
Most building companies require a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to show that you are qualified to work on site.