What they do

Carpenters build and install the wooden and metal structures and fixtures that make up commercial or residential buildings. They may also finish and repair wooden structures such as foundations, walls, roofs, windows and doors. They plan and construct floors and frameworks, roofs and ceililngs, which may be made from either timber or metal, and may also lay timber floors.

Carpenters also cut and shape the materials they work with, and assemble or nail them into place. They may also install door handles, locks, flooring underlay, insulating material and other fixtures.

Carpenters are needed throughout the state, from the construction of office buildings in the Perth CBD, to the construction of houses in suburban areas, or the buildings for new mining operations in the Pilbara.

Working conditions

Carpenters work on building and construction sites and as such may work in dirty, dustry, muddy or noisy conditions. Carpenters may also have to work in cramped spaces, or at heights. Building sites may be hazardous spaces, and with the use of power tools, carpenters will usually be required to wear safety gear.

Tools and technologies

As carpenters work mostly with different types of timber, they need to be familiar with a range of power and hand tools, precise measuring equipment such as spirit levels and instruments for measuring angles, as well as platforms and ladders for working at heights. Depending on the scale of the job they are working on they may also need to use safety harnesses. They need to use safety equipment such as hard hats, gloves, steel-capped boots, safety glasses and ear protection.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a carpenter, you usually need to undertake a carpenter or carpentry and joinery apprenticeship. The apprenticeships usually take 36 to 48 months to complete and is available as school-based apprenticeships.

You may improve your chances of gaining an apprenticeship by completing the Certificate II in Construction (Pathways – Trades) (carpentry and joinery pre-apprenticeship or Certificate II in Building and Construction (Pathway – Trades), offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and My Skills to find a registered provider near you.

You may also improve your chances of gaining an apprenticeship by undertaking a traineeship in building and construction trade. The traineeship usually takes 12 months to complete and is available as a school-based traineeship.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a carpenter in Western Australia you will need to obtain builders’ registration from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, or work under the supervision of a registered building practitioner, if you carry out work valued at more than $20,000.

Carpenters working in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Training Card (commonly known as a "White Card"). In WA, training is conducted by registered training organisations authorised by WorkSafe.