What Does a Carpenter Do?

Carpenters are pretty clever multitasking craftsmen, and job duties can vary from chippy to chippy.

The short version? They work in the construction industry creating mostly wood structures – from timber decking to pergolas and framing for new buildings.

If you’re here for the long version, learn more about what carpenters do below.

What do carpenters do?

Carpenters construct, install and repair infrastructure frameworks and buildings using wood and other materials. They’re involved in a range of construction projects such as erecting building frames, roofs and floors and even building highways and bridges.

While the specifics of carpentry jobs can change, most involve studying a client’s blueprints or following a supervisor’s instructions to determine the materials, dimensions and installation procedures required for a project.

From here, they’ll cut and shape wood and other materials with tools like chisels, saws and sanders, then assemble the materials to create fittings and structures ready to install. Depending on the project, they might use rigging hardware and cranes to install building framework.

Types of Carpentry

Rough Carpenters

Just as their name implies, rough carpenters handle all the “rough” jobs. They take care of structural work, focusing on framing, scaffolding, support structures and floorwork.

Finish/Trim Carpenters

These guys focus on more ornamental work that affects the final appearance of a project such as staircases, windows, decking, intricate woodwork and interior trims.

Joiners/Cabinet Makers

This specialised area of carpentry focuses on making cabinets (such as in the bathroom or kitchen) and even home furniture.

How much does a carpenter earn?

According to Neuvoo, the average salary for a carpenter in Australia is $74,056 per year or $37.98 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $55,000 per year and experienced workers can make up to $110,000 per year.

Like with most occupations, your income can change depending on your qualifications, experience, location, and the area of carpentry in which you specialise.

Difference Between a Carpenter and a Builder

To put it simply, a carpenter builds the woodwork of a structure and is contracted by a builder who supervises their work. A builder might be contracted by a business owner or architect, or work for themselves.

While chippies are qualified tradies, they need to complete further studies to become a licenced builder (like our Certificate IV in Building and Construction). If you’re interested in learning more about a career in the construction industry, checkout our guide on the different types of builders in Australia. 

How to Become a Carpenter

To work as a registered carpenter in Australia, you have to successfully complete a four-year apprenticeship and Certificate III in Carpentry.

This qualification gives you the skills and knowledge you need to pursue an entry-level role in the construction and building industry.

If you’d like to become a chippy, learn how to get there with our helpful article How to Become a Carpenter.

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