what is a carpenter?

A carpenter's job is to design, build or repair the wooden elements of a building. From custom cabinets and doors to structural support beams for staircases, carpenters provide skilled labour in construction but primarily work with natural materials like timber and wood.

Working with wood, you help add personality and warmth to homes and public areas. For instance, bespoke wall panelling, custom-created furniture and unique finials can enhance the beauty of interior spaces. A carpenter uses skills to turn a functional requirement like bookshelves into a decorative feature. Your projects will vary depending on the employer, whether you are working on commercial or residential buildings.

As a carpenter, your expertise in designing bespoke furniture and wood items also increases your employment prospects. For instance, you can work for furniture production companies and be part of the creative team that produces unique items for sale.

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average salary of a carpenter

The average salary of a carpenter in Australia is $55,000 annually. The salary scale ranges from $30,000 to $80,000 annually. The remuneration package usually depends on your specialisation and the complexity of your role. As with most trade jobs, your salary and benefits depend on your work hours. Expanding your knowledge in complementary skill sets, such as design, will make you more valuable to an employer.

what factors affect the salary of a carpenter?

Your salary as a carpenter varies depending on your employer and whether you work full-time or part-time. Are you working for a Housing industry association contractor or a well-established home developer? Significant housing developments require complementary skills and specialisation for quality work. Hence, the salary will reflect the specialisms and expert skills. A small family-run furniture shop has minimal qualification requirements and less pay, but it's an exciting opportunity to grow your skills with greater creative freedom. If you have woodworking specialisms, like historical restoration or antique repair, your remuneration package is significantly better than an apprentice with entry-level skills. Additionally, the location, local economy, and willingness to travel can impact your salary.

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carpenter salary

types of carpenters

If you want to be a successful carpenter, explore jobs in a specialism that may not be as common. Some of those carpentry roles include:

  • Heritage carpenter: you can train in heritage carpentry if you love working with antiques or restoring historic buildings. As a heritage carpenter, you may find yourself rebuilding, restoring and renovating historic buildings using the materials and techniques used when designed initially.
  • Set designer: did you know you can work as a carpenter in the film and theatre industry? You may even see your work on the big screen if the sets and props you worked on are used in production.
  • Shopfitting carpenter: retailers often want to create unique spaces by adding designer fittings to match their brand's style. Shopfitters install fittings and shelves made from natural materials.
  • Furniture designer: if you are creative, furniture design is an appealing career path in carpentry. Your job is to create furniture from scratch, from cabinets and wardrobes to chairs and tables.
  • Formwork carpenter: as a farmworker or a formwork carpenter, you are responsible for constructing shuttering and false walls in buildings. Sometimes, you have to use concrete to make moulds and false walls.
  • Cabinet carpenter: a cabinet carpenter is a carpenter who specializes in creating and installing cabinets. Cabinet carpenters use various tools to build cabinets, including saws, routers, and sanders. They also install cabinets, making sure that they are level and secure.
  • Trim carpenter: a trim carpenter is a carpenter who specializes in creating and installing trim and moulding in homes and other buildings. Trim carpenters often have a wide range of skills, including the ability to install cabinets, doors, and windows.
  • Framer: a framer is a carpenter who specializes in creating the wooden framework for a building.
  • Ship carpenter: a ship carpenter is a carpenter who specializes in building and repairing wooden ships.
blue collar workers on break
blue collar workers on break

working as a carpenter

Are you wondering what it's like to work as a carpenter? The role involves working with wood and using your creativity to create unique pieces of furniture. Let's look at the daily tasks you might undertake and what your work schedule might involve.


education and skills

The educational qualifications required to become a carpenter depend on your area of specialisation and the complexity of your role.

Some carpentry positions require an associate's degree, but most people join the field through apprenticeships.

  • Apprenticeships: you need on-site study and training to perfect your skills and techniques in learning carpentry. When you complete Year 10, you can start your internship with a carpenter or construction company. Unlike training courses, an apprenticeship provides hands-on experience since your employer expects you to do some of the work. The traineeship usually takes four years, and you learn how to prepare various types of furniture and repair damaged structures in buildings.
  • Certification: to become a certified carpenter, you should complete training in a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institution. For instance, you can achieve a Certificate III in carpentry and joinery, which gives you experience working on industrial and residential construction projects. You can advance your career with a Certificate IV in building and construction or obtain a diploma. You must also apply for a White Card to work on construction sites.

skills and competencies

As well as educational qualifications, you need technical and soft skills to advance in carpentry.

these skills include:

  • Creativity: were you bursting with creativity when you were growing up? Being a carpenter requires problem-solving skills and innovativeness to overcome challenges you may face. This creativity can also be used to design bespoke furniture or interior furnishings.
  • Attention to detail: if you have a keen eye for detail, you will do well in carpentry. Attentiveness ensures you don't miss your customers' specifications and produce high-quality work. Attention to detail also ensures the job is completed efficiently within the stipulated budget.
  • Numeracy: mathematical skills come in handy when measuring and cutting wood, minimising wastages or estimating project costs.
  • Leadership: if you are the lead carpenter, you need leadership skills to manage on-site teams and apprentices. Leadership skills also help you motivate your team and provide clear instructions on steps for undertaking the project.

FAQs about working as a carpenter

Here are the most asked questions about working as a carpenter:

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