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Your Guide to Carpentry: Salaries, Apprenticeships and More!
The road to becoming a fully qualified carpenter can be long and trying. Your first few years will often involve heavy labour with a low wage whilst you complete your four years as an apprentice.
Once fully qualified though, a career as a carpenter is both rewarding and prosperous. Now considered as one of the highest paying careers in Australia, a fully qualified carpenter can earn a 6 figure salary, as can a career as a fully qualified plumber.
Read this guide below to find out all the information you need about becoming a carpenter in Australia.
Carpenter Job Description
A qualified carpenter is someone who builds and repairs structures that often consist of wood, along with other materials like plastic and fibreglass. They work in various areas like the construction industry and woodworking. While the majority of carpenters are hired by businesses, about a third of carpenters are self-employed.
Apprenticeships and Traineeships are a great way to get qualified in a trade.
Some of their duties include:
- Inspect blueprints and follow plans when building
- Determine what materials are required for the installation procedures
- Measuring, cutting materials, and assembling the parts
- Establish the framework of the structures that you work on
- Lead other carpenters/construction helpers throughout the building process
- Fitting window frames and wall cladding
A couple of other points that you should know about before you become a carpenter:
- Majority of carpenters are full-time
- On average, they work forty-four hours a week
- Majority work in construction
- Overtime is often necessary to meet deadlines
- There is a high rate of injuries in this field, as it’s physically demanding
- Apprentice wages start off relatively low.
The prospects of this career path are steadily growing and are expected to grow from 133,100 in 2018 to 140,200 by 2023. In 2018, unemployment rates in this area were way below average.
How do you become a carpenter?
You will need to have a high school diploma in order to complete an apprenticeship, the latter teaching you all you need to know about carpentry work.
For non-school leavers and people over 21, a mature-age apprenticeship will help you gain your qualification and get your first job in the industry.
There are carpentry courses you can do as well, which will increase your chances of securing a job. However, there are certain certificates you need to get in order to be a certified carpenter. The details can be found down below.
There are a couple of other requirements that you need to have certain skills such as:
- Good hand-eye coordination
- Excellent communication skills
- Exceptional attention to detail
- The ability to work in a team environment
- Experience with hand tools (such as saws, nail guns, power tools, etc)
- Strong grasp of mathematics
- High stamina/physically capable
An average carpenter gets about $32-$42 per hour. However, certain types of carpenters can get more or less. For example, a maintenance carpenter can get up to $38 per hour, while a formwork carpenter can receive up to $50 per hour. An apprentice carpenter normally earns $17.72 per hour.
Before you can become a qualified carpenter, you will have to complete an apprenticeship program, which usually takes about 3-4 years to finish. It typically consists of on-the-job training, such as at a construction site, along with regular classroom teaching.
There are requirements you need to fulfill before you can become an apprentice. You will need to finish year ten before you can apply at the very least, although some employers will have specific qualifications that may consist of more requirements.
Ensure that you read over the details of the apprenticeship program on offer carefully before you apply. Once you are accepted, you will learn on the job, completing tasks that qualified carpenters will normally do.
- Cabinet maker
- Site foreman
- Formwork carpenter
- Maintenance carpenter
- Furniture maker
- Industrial carpenter
How to get certified as a qualified carpenter?
You will have to complete a Certificate III in Carpentry, offered by several TAFE institutions before you can become a qualified carpenter. It is recommended that you complete this certificate before you complete an apprenticeship.
This certificate, in particular, will provide you with the overall basic information that will complement what you learned throughout your apprenticeship, teaching you the necessary carpentry skills and knowledge. It will pave the way for your apprenticeship, and eventually, your work as a fully qualified carpenter.
It will take three years to finish full-time, where you will attend ninety classes overall. It’s also expected that you study around two hours per week. Some assignments will be written, while others will be practical.
Once you complete this certificate, you can move on to other carpentry courses, such as a Certificate IV in Building and Construction, if you’d like to work as a builder. If you want to become a foreman or project manager, you will have to complete a Diploma of Building and Construction (Building).
But again, as was mentioned previously, you only need to complete a Certificate III to apply for a Certificate of Completion, which will prove that you’re an accredited carpenter.
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