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Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: > 50,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief 'The most rewarding part of being a carpenter is knowing that you have made something from scratch using your hands, some base materials and the necessary tools', according to Gary, a local carpenter.

There are currently around 6,600 carpentry and joinery tradespersons employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the construction industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a slightly younger age profile with a median age of 36.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Carpenter

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A carpenter is a tradesperson who works with timber and other building materials. Often working from building plans, carpenters install, repair or renovate structures and fixtures. The role is evolving, with recent changes in construction having seen carpenters becoming more flexible in their ways. While they were once considered to be specialists in timber, carpenters are now working with steel and aluminium as the trend moves away from timber framing.

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Education Requirements

Of those currently employed as carpenters 65% have either Certificate III or IV. There are approximately 29% who do not have any post-school qualifications. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers the following courses to help you find employment in this occupation: Certificate II in Construction Pathways, Certificate II Program in Construction (Wood Trades)and Certificate II Program in Construction Pathways (Speialising in Carpentry). Pathways include Certificate I Program in Trade Pathways.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Carpenters are an integral part of the construction industry and with many moving on to become builders, there will always be opportunities for apprentice carpenters. Demand for carpenters in the commercial sector has been affected by changes in construction methods such as the increasing use of tilt-up concrete and prefabrication. It is also affected by demand for housing and major commercial developments. Currently an apprenticeship in carpentry also involves training in joinery, which includes the prefabrication of structures for installation. Joiners usually seek work in specialist joinery firms where they work indoors in a workshop setting.

With further training and experience, a carpenter could become a clerk of works, building supervisor, building and construction manager, building inspector, technical teacher, estimator, building contract administrator or purchasing officer.



Nature of the Job

If you've ever looked out during a thunder storm and been thankful that you have a roof over your head, then your thanks should have gone to a roofing carpenter. They specialise in constructing roof frames. Fixing carpenters undertake work such as hanging doors, fixing windows, installing door jambs and skirting as well as fitting a variety of fixtures such as locks and door handles. Some of these structures are pre-fabricated by a joiner, who performs a different but closely related role in construction.

Other carpenters specialise in formwork, building the timber forms into which concreters pour and set concrete. This technique, called boxing, provides a mould for structures such as concrete staircases, walls and foundations. The more prevalent use of tilt-up concrete panelling, however, is reducing the demand for these skills in the commercial area. Most carpenters will also undertake general maintenance duties, such as renovating and refurbishing pre-existing timber structures. A carpenter is required to have a broad knowledge of building and construction methods and the materials and timbers that are used. Much of this knowledge is learnt both on and off the job, during an apprenticeship.

Typical Physical Working Environment

A carpenter must enjoy practical work and be able to work with his hands. It is essential that carpenters have a good sense of balance and ability to work at heights. As measurement is an integral part of the job, they have to be good at mathematics. They must also be physically fit and have eyesight. They need to be able to work independently and as part of a team.

Typical Occupational Example

'Measure twice and cut once' is an ironclad rule of all carpenters, as even a slight mistake may end up being very costly. An understanding of maths and the ability to make quick and accurate calculations, therefore, is essential. Technical drawing skills will also be helpful for sketching. Physical fitness and safety awareness are very important as many jobs involve lifting heavy pieces of timber and working on potentially hazardous construction sites. Communication skills are also important, because on most occasions, carpenters will work as a part of a team, with other carpenters or construction workers. Work is usually sought from large construction firms and building contractors or there are always opportunities for self-employment. Self-employed carpenters usually undertake all forms of carpentry, including formwork, roofing, maintenance and fixing. Working hours vary with the seasons. In the summer months, work generally starts at 6.00 a.m. and ends at 4.00 p.m., while in winter, work begins later. Overtime can be expected when deadlines have to be met.

For further information, contact:

Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council
Phone: (02) 6253 0002

Construction Industry Training Board SA
Phone: (08) 8172 9500

Earning Potential

If you are interested in carpentry it is recommended that you improve your chances by undertaking Vocational Education and Training (VET) studies while still at school. This incorporates Structured Workplace Learning (on-the-job) and Units of Competence (off-the-job). The average weekly wage for a carpenter is $35,000 but there is the potential to earn very high salaries, especially if you start your own business.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online