The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

How To Become A Carpenter

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Carpentry and Joinery can be a great career choice for anybody that enjoys working with their hands, staying active and who has a keen eye for little details. A quality Carpenter can easily earn up to £40,000 per year, and there are a number of different routes you can take in order to become a qualified Carpenter.

How to become a Carpenter UK

Firstly, let’s talk about the type of person you’ll likely need to be in order to have a successful career in Carpentry.

What skills do you need to become a Carpenter?

  • Passion and understanding for building/construction
  • Thorough, with an eye for small details
  • Comfortable with numbers/measurements
  • Strong team player
  • Patience on long/difficult pieces of work
  • Comfortable using machinery
  • Self-starter
  • Happy using mobile phones/computers (e.g. replying to an email from a client)

If you feel like you meet these criteria, let’s talk about the two routes you can take:

1. Apprenticeship

While it struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market for UK apprenticeships is showing signs of life once more. The UK government announced bonuses for businesses hiring apprentices (irrespective of age), designed to encourage employers to restart their apprenticeship schemes as things slowly return to normal.

What qualifications/education do you need to get a Carpenter apprenticeship?

In order to be eligible for an apprenticeship, you’ll likely need some basic qualifications:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship: A few GCSEs (or equivalent), likely including English and Maths
  • Advanced Apprenticeship: 5+ GCSEs (At least C grade) (or equivalent), including English and Maths
  • Higher Apprenticeship: Foundation Degree (or equivalent)

Apprenticeships are a popular option for people looking for their long-term career across the UK. You’ll earn a wage while you work, work alongside industry experts and spend (at minimum) 20% of your working week completing training and study directly related to your industry of choice—a great way to break up the working week.

Apart from your academic achievements, you’ll just need to be over 16 and not currently in full-time education to be eligible—you are welcome to start applying if you’re currently in your final year of education, however, so feel free to start looking ahead of time.


If you don’t feel you’re quite ready for an apprenticeship (or perhaps don’t qualify for one yet) then you can consider a traineeship.

You won’t be paid, but it’ll give you (at minimum) 70 hours of work experience as a Carpenter. It’s great for anyone looking to test out an industry they’re interested in, and as part of the course you’ll also receive help with your CV and the often daunting job application process.

How to apply for a Carpentry apprenticeship?

It couldn’t be easier to apply for an apprenticeship in the UK. The UK government has set up a website designed to help potential apprentices find an apprenticeship that suits them—just click here to be taken through to it.

Otherwise, feel free to look locally. A quick Google search for “[your local area] + carpentry” might tell you about some businesses that aren’t on the government website, and they’re always keen to know about potential future employees who are passionate about the industry—the worst thing they can tell you is that they’re not hiring at the moment.

2. Courses

Courses are a great option for anybody looking to stay in education and gain practical, relevant experience in their industry of choice. They can set you up to start your Carpentry career at a higher level than you might do as an apprentice—and additionally the entry requirements are slightly less rigorous.

What qualifcations/education do you need to get into a Carpentry course?

The entry requirements for most courses are fairly similar, and while you may find some slight differences from college to college you’ll likely be in a good spot if you meet these requirements:

  • Level 2: 2+ GCSEs (At least D grade) or equivalent
  • Level 3: 4-5 GCSEs (At least C grade) or equivalent

Courses can be a great option for anyone who isn’t 100% sure what they want to do with their career, and the colleges you’ll attend often come with great careers teams who are there to help with CV/interview advice and finding you the right employer—there will be events throughout the year, too, giving you an opportunity to meet potential employers, discuss their job and even share your CV.

Keep in mind that courses are slightly less practical in their nature than apprenticeships. You’ll be spending a lot of time in a classroom, understanding the fundamentals of your trade alongside some things that will help you stay safe during your career, such as health and safety and your employment rights as a Carpenter—so if you’re slightly more practical or don’t enjoy being in a classroom a few days a week then apprenticeships might be a better route.

Where can I find Carpentry courses?

Just like apprenticeships, the government has put together an excellent website that most UK colleges use to advertise their courses—click through here to be taken straight to it. They’ve also put together some excellent, short online courses that you can take if you want to improve your confidence in certain areas, such as mathematics or computer essentials.

You may find that popular courses don’t ever make it to the website, however, so it’s important to keep an eye on local colleges to see when they start accepting applicants—most will generally open one year before the course starts, so if you’re keen to go to a specific college or be on a specific course it’ll be worth knowing when applications open locally.

How to become a Master Carpenter UK

The title of “Master Carpenter” is one that applied considerably more in the past than it does now—outside of local Carpentry unions, there isn’t any way to be nationally recognised as a Master Carpenter in the UK any more.

Historically, all tradesmen were known by the level of knowledge they held in their craft, whether Carpenter, Blacksmith or Baker. Everyone would enter the industry as an Apprentice, learning directly from a “Master”, with all of their training and learning directed by the Master. They’d work exclusively under their supervision.

Eventually, when the Apprentice had received the necessary training and was totally comfortable with the work, they’d become a Journeyman. Journeymen were confident working alone or with others—they’d get their projects from the Master but were trusted to complete the work without supervision.

Once the Journeyman was ready, they’d present a “Masterpiece” to their Master for approval. If the Master found no issue in the workmanship and quality of the piece then the Journeyman became a Master, and was free to work by themselves and hire their own Apprentices and Journeymen.

In the modern-day, there no longer exists the informal titling of Carpenters, nor the process of needing to “present a Masterpiece” to achieve your next promotion—although don’t be surprised if some Carpenters still have a similar event in place for progression, as many take pride in the place Carpentry holds in British History.

If you do want to be able to confidently call yourself a Master Carpenter, your best bet is to contact your local Carpentry Union and see if they offer something similar. The London based Institute of Carpenters have a “Master Certificate Scheme” that has a number of difficult criteria you’ll need to pass (including an exam). Once done, you’ll be known as a Master to all other within the Union, and are welcome to advertise yourself as such.

What does a Carpenter do in the UK?

You can expect a wide variety of tasks as a UK-based Carpenter, from measuring, cutting and shaping wood through to restoring old buildings. Here’s a list of some of the activities you can expect to be completing throughout the year:

  • Cutting, marking up, shaping and fitting wood/timber
  • Using hand/power tools
  • Working in different environments, residential, commercial and otherwise
  • Working in a workshop, in a business/shop, on a construction site or in someone’s home
  • Understanding different types of wood and their properties
  • Installing doors, cabinets, skirting boards, tables and more

It’s also worth being conscious that some sites in the UK may require you to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card in order to work on-site. Getting one isn’t a complicated process, but worth being aware of.

Do I need insurance as a Carpenter?

Absolutely, yes. Our in-depth guide to Carpentry and Joinery Insurance is an excellent resource for anybody wondering what insurances they’ll need as a Carpenter/Joiner, whether they’re self-employed, setting up a business or joining somewhere as an employee/apprentice.

If you’re buying your own tools, you’ll want to consider Tools and Equipment Insurance as well—it’ll protect your tools if they’re stolen, accidentally lost or damaged through fire/flood.

How much does a Carpenter earn UK?

According to the Offices for National Statistics, Carpenters earn an average of £27,000 per year in the UK. Unsurprisingly given the cost of living, London tops the list at £31,280 per year. Carpenters in the North West earn the least per year, to be expected given the lower living costs and increased competition between handymen there.

graph showing the average salary for carpenters in the uk
RegionAverage Carpenter Pay UK
National Average£27,101
North West£25,151
Yorkshire and The Humber£25,861
South East£26,424
West Midlands£27,358
North East£27,519
East Midlands£27,894
South West£28,648


The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.