Career information on carpentry jobs

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James Robinson installs all the wood fittings throughout new houses, office blocks or other buildings under construction. This includes the roof beams and joists, windows and doors and many of the kitchen fittings. He works closely with electricians and tilers.

What is your position on the site?

I am a joinery supervisor working for a contractor on the site and responsible for managing the joiners and carpenters. I work as a joiner and, in addition, I oversee all the joinery work and assist the management team in checking for quality control. I am responsible to the site manager and to my own head office.

How did you become a carpenter?

I first approached the Construction Industry Training Board for assistance and was advised to apply to Redrow although I was actually employed by a subcontractor as a modern apprentice. After completing my apprenticeship, I worked as a qualified carpenter and, eight years after leaving school, I am now a supervisor.

What does a joiner do on a building site?

We usually start our work when the bricklayers have finished. We construct the roof for the roofers to place the tiles.

Finally, we put in windows and door casings and any interior woodwork such as staircases and landings. The ground floors are normally concrete but we have to install interior walls and upper floors in chipboard casing. At a later stage, we work with the plumbers and electricians in installing fitted kitchens cupboards and wardrobes.

What skills and qualities are needed to become a joiner?

A natural ability with the tools of the job, such as saws, planes, hammers and levels. Although many of the trusses are pre-fabricated.

James's route to a career in carpentry

  • GCSEs.
  • Modern Apprenticeship.
  • City & Guilds in carpentry and joinery.

James's carpentry job tips

  • Always be willing to work hard.
  • Remember you will always be part of a team.
  • Never think that you have finished learning.

Carpenter related jobs

Salary of a carpenter

  • Starting salaries for qualified craftsmen is around £15,000 - £20,000 with earnings boosted by overtime, demand and bonuses.
  • The Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) agrees minimum wage rates annually – currently around £7.50 an hour.
  • As self-employed, annual income can be £25,000 - £30,000.

Career information on carpentry jobs

  • A Modern Apprenticeship (Skillseekers in Scotland) with a joinery or construction company is the normal route of entry.
  • GNVQ/GSVQ Level 1 in Construction and the Built Environment or GCSE/S grades (A-D/1-4) level education will provide a background for entry as a modern apprentice which many firms will support. This will include part-time attendance at college. Some employers may take you on without examination qualifications if you can show skill or ability.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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