how to become a carpenter

Do you enjoy working with your hands? Do you like to build things? Are you strong, with a steady hand and a precise methodical way of working? Do you like the medium of wood and it’s qualities? Then, why not consider becoming a carpenter? Carpenters are precise people who use a range of hand tools, power tools and heavy equipment to carry out their work.  You could work on a construction site building wooden house frames or other wooden elements of houses. Or you could work from a workshop crafting cabinets for the house. You might prefer to spend your time building fine furniture. There are a lot of possibilities as a carpenter and they forecast opportunities to remain strong and growing.

Would you like to learn a craft and build practical or beautiful objects? Do you have the strength, stamina and careful approach to succeed in carpentry? Then, don’t hesitate to take the first step towards a rewarding career. Keep reading to find out what you should do next.

Step one: Choose a vocational training course

Taking a vocational training course is a good option as your first step towards becoming a carpenter. A course which teaches you a foundation of knowledge, in relation to construction, will stand you in good stead. As well as teaching you the practical skills you need to complete your carpentry work to a high standard. 

Step two: Register for a Construction Induction Card

Anyone wanting to work on a construction site will need to hold a construction induction card. This is essential to have, in order to find work successfully. You can use the resources section on this site to find all the information you need and the requirements for the card.

Step four: Look for your first job

Now, it is finally time to look for work and to put your new skills and knowledge to the test. Current projections indicate work opportunities for carpenters will remain strong over the next five years. Make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter for each application you make. Also, don’t forget to highlight your new qualifications, personal strengths and any relevant experience you have.

Step five: Consider a specialisation

Many carpenters begin their career as employees, but then once they have experience they are able to start their own business. There are many specialisation options for carpenters. Here are three interesting ones for you to consider.

Cabinet Maker

Cabinetmaking is an enjoyable specialisation which takes you off the construction site and into the workshop. You build and install cupboards, cabinets and other furniture for residential or commercial properties. Or you might repair damaged units already in-situ. The work is more creative and on a smaller scale than many commercial projects carpenters work on.

Fine Furniture Maker

In this specialisation, you take your creative skills and practical skills. Then, use them to design, build and finish custom furniture for your clients. You usually work from a brief coming up with creations to fulfil that brief. You use power tools and hand tools working with wood to create beautiful masterpieces. No IKEA furniture here, thank you!

Site Foreman

Many carpenters spend a lot of time on construction sites. This prepares you well for career progression into a supervisory role instead of a practical one. As a foreman, you are responsible for managing the tradespeople on-site. You make sure tasks are in hand, delegating if needed, as well as making sure health and safety standards are being followed.

What do Carpenters Do?

As a carpenter, you play an important role in the construction and renovation industries. You will build, install and repair a wide variety of wooden objects or wooden aspects of a building. For example, you may build wooden frames, floors, and walls for houses or commercial properties. Furthermore, you may find yourself fitting doors, windows or wooden staircases. Importantly, you must learn to cut, measure and shape timber so they fit exactly. Bearing in mind and allowing for the nature of wood and it’s tendency to move or warp. 


  • Studying the building plans for each job
  • Cutting, treating, and preparing timber
  • Repairing existing wooden fittings
  • Erecting building frames, roofs, and floors
  • Maintaining and sharpening tools

Skills for Success

To succeed as a carpenter you should enjoy working with your hands and building something to be proud of.  You will need to be a very precise person, who can measure and cut timber accurately to the right size. If you have some maths skills this will help because you need to calculate the volume of materials needed for the job at hand. The work is physical and demanding. When you work on construction sites you could work in uncomfortable conditions or at heights. You will need to work independently, without a lot of supervision. But at the same time, you need to have good communication skills. As a part of your daily work you usually have to liaise with a number of other people, whether tradespeople or clients.

Skills and attributes

  • Attention to detail
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • In good physical shape
  • Able to work independently
  • Precise and meticulous
  • Can use maths to make calculations

How much Does a Carpenter earn in Australia?

In Australia, carpenters earn a median wage of $55,314 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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