Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades

Carpenters and joiners work with wood, making doors, windows, stairs, furniture and shop fittings. They use traditional woodworking tools, power tools and cutting machines.

Generally, the joiner uses drawings to prepare the fittings and the carpenter installs them, but the two jobs can overlap.

The work may be based on a construction site, in a workshop or at a client's premises depending on the trade specialism.

Work Activities

Carpenters and joiners cut, shape and join wood to make doors, window frames, floorboards and skirting boards. They may also make and fit structures like staircases and roof beams.

They study drawings, calculate angles and dimensions, and choose the right wood for the job.

There are different types of carpenter and joiner:

  • Bench joiners are usually based in workshops. They make things like doors, window frames, kitchens, staircases and rooftimbers.
  • Wood machinists use specialist equipment to prepare and shape timber. Protective headgear such as goggles may be required. There may be a lot of wood dust.
  • Site carpenters work on-site and fit the prefabricated parts into new buildings. They will fit the floorboards, staircases and window frames. They will then install skirting boards, door surrounds, doors, door handles and locks.
  • As well as working on new buildings, carpenters and joiners can work on building maintenance and extensions.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for carpenters/joiners

  • Good hand skills and spatial awareness
  • Be physically fit, carpenters spend a lot of time standing and crouching
  • Maths skills to calculate angles and dimensions
  • Be able to pay close attention to detail
  • Be comfortable working at heights
  • An awareness of the importance of health and safety in the industry

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of carpenters and joiners

  • Large and small construction companies.
  • Specialist companies that make windows, doors or furniture.
  • Carpenters can work as self-employed sub-contractors.
  • Carpenters can also work in TV and film, making stage sets.
  • Skilled Carpenters/Joiners can work on heritage projects restoring historical buildings.


England and Wales

Qualifications and training required

Many people enter this profession on an apprenticeship. You learn the skills of the job and get paid, whilst also studying towards a vocational qualification.

You can apply for an Advanced Level Apprenticeship after GCSEs or with a level 2 Technical Certificate.

Organisations like City & Guilds and Edexcel offer relevant qualifications, for example, level 3 NVQ wood occupations.

Most building companies require a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to show that you are qualified to work on site.


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.

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