How to become a joiner

Joinery can be a rewarding career for anyone who loves woodwork, and the idea of creating high-quality structures for clients in the construction industry. If you’re wondering how to become a joiner in the UK, it’s essential to grow your knowledge of this profession.

Whether you’re transitioning careers or looking to capitalise on an existing passion, you’ll need to know everything from the required qualifications to the financial prospects, challenges, and daily responsibilities. You can then look into the niches you could go on to specialise in within joinery, empowering you to strengthen your offering.

In this guide, we’ll provide a detailed roadmap for how to become a joiner.

How do I become a joiner?

To become a joiner in the UK, you’ll generally need to follow these steps:

Research the profession: Understand the duties and requirements of a joiner to ensure it fits with your interests and career goals.

Gain relevant education: Enrol in a carpentry and joinery course at a college or training centre. An apprenticeship could take the place of a college course, if you find construction companies offering them; see more in the next step.

Complete an apprenticeship: Even if you’ve already studied and qualified at college, for example, practical experience is crucial in joinery. An apprenticeship provides hands-on training under the guidance of experienced professionals, to further cement what you’ve learned.

Pursue further qualifications: You could look at gaining NVQ levels two and three in Carpentry and Joinery, to enhance your qualifications.

Build a portfolio: Document your work throughout your training, creating a portfolio that showcases your skills and craftsmanship.

Apply for jobs or self-employment: Look for joinery positions with construction companies or consider starting your own business if you prefer working independently.

Continued professional development: Stay informed about industry trends and consider additional courses or certifications to enhance your expertise.

We’ll go into more detail around some of these areas throughout the article.

What skills do I need to become a joiner?

Successful joiners have a combination of technical, practical, and interpersonal skills. These include:

Precision and attention to detail


Hand-eye coordination

Communication skills

Physical fitness



Time management

Developing and refining these skills through education, apprenticeships, and on-the-job experience is essential for a successful career in joinery.

What qualifications do I need to become a joiner?

To summarise, the typical educational path of a joiner may include some or all of the following:

GCSEs or equivalent

Carpentry and joinery courses


NVQ qualifications

What are the responsibilities of a joiner?

The responsibilities of a joiner encompass a range of tasks related to making, installing, and maintaining wooden structures and components. Joiners commonly:

Read and interpret technical drawings: You’ll need to understand and follow detailed drawings to create precise wooden components.

Measure and cut materials: Accurate measurement and cutting of wood are fundamental tasks in joinery, to ensure a proper fit and finish.

Assemble and install structures: Joiners assemble components on-site, ensuring they fit seamlessly and are securely fixed.

Repair and maintain wooden structures: Joiners may be called upon to repair or restore existing wooden elements, requiring skills in restoration techniques.

Use hand and power tools: Proficiency with a variety of tools, both manual and power-driven, is essential for a joiner to shape, cut, and finish wood.

Collaborate with other professionals: Joiners often work closely with architects, builders, and other tradespeople to ensure projects are completed successfully.

These responsibilities highlight the diverse skill set required in joinery, combining precision, creativity, and technical expertise.

How long does it take to become a qualified joiner?

If you’re wondering how long it takes to become a joiner, it depends on how much time you have to learn. Becoming a qualified joiner in the UK typically involves a combination of education, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. You could take a full-time apprenticeship and become qualified in two years; if you study part-time it could take four. If you want to develop a niche or be a master carpenter, the journey can span several years.

After completing an apprenticeship, some joiners may choose to pursue further qualifications, such as NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) levels two and three in Carpentry and Joinery. This additional training can take an extra one to two years.

Do joiners make good money?

Joiners in the UK can earn a decent income, with the salary likely to vary based on factors like experience, location, and specialisation. Entry-level joiners may earn around £18,000 to £25,000 per year. With experience, this figure can rise to between £30,000 and £40,000, while highly skilled or specialised joiners may command even higher salaries.

Self-employed joiners have the potential to earn an attractive income, as they can set their own rates and take on various projects. The average daily rate in the UK is around £300.

Is joinery a hard job?

Joinery is a physically demanding and mentally challenging profession. The work involves using various hand and power tools, lifting heavy materials, and precision in crafting woodwork. Joiners often face tight deadlines, requiring them to manage time effectively. The job can also be mentally taxing, as joiners need to interpret technical drawings, solve problems, and communicate effectively with clients and other professionals.

Despite its challenges, many find joinery rewarding due to the tangible results of their craftsmanship and the satisfaction of bringing designs to life. The difficulty level can vary depending on the complexity of projects, your skills and experience.

What is the difference between a joiner and a carpenter?

While the terms joiner and carpenter are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions in their roles. Joiners mainly focus on designing, making and assembling wooden components in a workshop, such as doors, windows, and furniture. They typically work with a high level of precision and attention to detail.

Carpenters are involved in on-site construction work, installing wooden structures, frameworks, and finishes. They may also work with other materials, such as metal and concrete.

What types of joinery can I specialise in?

Joiners can choose to specialise in various areas based on their interests and skill sets. Choosing a specialisation allows you to refine your skills in a particular area and cater to specific client needs. It can also open up opportunities for niche markets and higher-paying projects.

Some common specialisations within the field of joinery include:

Bespoke joinery: Creating custom, one-of-a-kind pieces such as fitted wardrobes, bespoke furniture, and intricate woodwork tailored to a client’s specifications.

Architectural joinery: Specialising in the creation of wooden elements for buildings, including doors, windows, stairs, and other architectural features that require precision and attention to detail.

Restoration joinery: Focusing on the repair and restoration of historical or antique wooden structures, preserving their original craftsmanship and ensuring authenticity.

Furniture joinery: Creating a variety of furniture pieces, ranging from traditional to contemporary designs, often working closely with designers or producing original pieces.

Kitchen and bathroom joinery: Designing and installing custom kitchen and bathroom cabinets, countertops, and other wooden fixtures, combining functionality with aesthetic appeal.

Boat joinery: Specialising in the construction and repair of wooden components for boats, including cabinetry, decking, and other marine-specific joinery

Exterior joinery: Involving the creation and installation of wooden elements for the outside of buildings, such as cladding, balconies, and outdoor structures.

How do you become a joiner at 30?

Becoming a joiner at the age of 30, or 40 and upwards for that matter, is entirely feasible. Many people change career or decide to pursue their passion for woodworking later in life. You can follow the same steps to enter the industry that you would at any other stage.

Becoming a joiner at 30 or older can allow you to bring a wealth of life experience, dedication, and a fresh perspective to the profession. Embrace the learning journey and with determination, you can successfully transition into a fulfilling new vocation.

Get Carpenters Insurance with Protectivity

Protecting your business is crucial. That’s why it’s always smart to take out carpenters’ insurance,  to safeguard against property damage, injuries, or accidents that may occur during woodwork projects. This not only provides more financial security for you, but it also cements trust with clients, demonstrating professionalism and responsibility in the face of potential uncertainties.

Protectivity’s carpenters insurance has public liability with up to £5 million worth of cover, as well as employers’ liability for those who employ staff. You can also choose the products liability extension for claims arising from third-party goods. Our optional commercial legal protection is designed for specific issues and gives you access to a legal helpline.

Find out more and get an instant online quote.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.