Joinery Apprenticeships

Not quite sure what it involves or if a joinery apprenticeship is even for you, read on to get the full lowdown on joinery apprenticeships.

Joinery Apprenticeships

Joinery is a ma-hoo-sive part of the construction industry. It plays an integral role in ensuring the furnishings we use daily (like doors and windows) are built well and in working order.

It’s an in-demand sector you can move into within three years of training and a skill that will keep you in a long career. You could see yourself working on some pretty exciting projects or even setting up your own business once you’ve got a few years of experience under your belt.

So, what's the best way to get started? Through an apprenticeship, of course.

Not quite sure what it involves or if a joinery apprenticeship is even for you…read on to get the full lowdown on joinery apprenticeships.

What’s the difference between carpentry and joinery?

Carpentry and joinery are a bit like fraternal twins. Born together, probably wearing the same outfit, but still very different.

That’s why you’ll find loads of apprenticeship schemes that put them together. However, there are a couple of aspects that make them different. So let’s break it down.

A joiner gets involved in the creation and production of wooden building components. These include items, or ‘fittings’, like doors, window frames and fitted furniture. A carpenter is responsible for slotting it all together on-site and making adjustments as needed.

It’s possible to train and build a career in both. So if becoming the Rihanna of construction is on your cards, you can definitely get there.

""I received a good amount of support from my training provider with a check up every term to see what I’m doing when I was on it what needs improving and how I am getting on in general and I feel this helps towards my overall well-being and helps me achieve my future goal the best I can."" Apprentice at Smithfield Joinery

What does an apprentice joiner do?

You can specialise in two branches of joinery: bench joinery or site joinery.

If you’re a bench joiner, you’ll usually be based in a workshop where you’ll pre-prepare pieces that’ll be installed on a site (usually a building suite). A site joiner will work on-site, and similarly to a carpenter, you’ll get involved with the installation of pieces.

There are two levels of apprenticeship a joiner can do;

During a Level 2 joinery apprenticeship, you’ll learn the basics of the trade and get into a variety of tasks. Including;

  • Take site and workplace dimensions

  • Learn how to form and proportion joints

  • Using joinery tools and equipment like marking and testing tools, power tools and hand tools

  • Create details and make doors, windows, opening lights/skylights and staircases

  • Work with other tradespeople such as bricklayers, plasterers and plumbers, site managers and contractors.

"“I have learnt a lot of new skills whilst doing my apprenticeship especially as I have been working with an experienced joiner for the past two years. I have also learnt a lot of skills in college that I can take into work and use on site day to day.” " Apprentice Joiner at Coulsons

You’ll also work towards getting your CSCS Blue Skilled Workers card at the end of your Level 2 apprenticeship.

You can apply for one once you’ve finished your joinery apprenticeship and completed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test. Getting a card tells officials and colleagues that you are fully qualified to work on a construction site.

Once you get to a Level 3 joinery apprenticeship, you’ll get loads more experience and responsibility. Your tasks will include everything you learned in your Level 2 apprenticeship, including the following;

  • Refurbishment/repair work of bespoke pieces

  • Developing knowledge of a range of manufacturing components from hardwoods and softwoods.

There are thousands more processes and tasks you’ll get into during your joinery apprenticeship, so it’s best to check job postings for a super detailed rundown of what you’ll do.

Find Joinery Apprenticeships

Want to find out what joinery apprenticeships are really like? Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.

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How long is an apprenticeship for a joiner?

Level 2 joinery apprenticeships will take between 18 months to two years to complete. Then you’ll move on to Level 3, which will take another 12-15 months. So expect to be in training for around three years.

You’ll spend around four days on the job in a workshop or on-site, and you’ll have one day in college. It’s also a good idea to remember that you’ll likely put in some long day hours and have to work a Saturday once in a while.

How do I become an apprentice joiner?

Entry requirements for joinery apprenticeships vary between employers. You’ll need to be 16 years old to do an apprenticeship.

Usually, you’ll need…

  • Two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a Level 2 apprenticeship

  • Four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a Level 3 apprenticeship.

If you’ve left school without GCSEs, that’s totally fine. Some employers will take on apprentices that might not have the above. However, you’ll need to do a maths and english assessment during your apprenticeship.

You might also need to have or be in the process of getting a driver’s licence. 

Decided to embark on a career in joinery? Great, that means it’s time to search and apply! You might not have the experience yet. However, that doesn’t mean that your existing skills won’t be taken seriously.

Despite being a specific trade, there are loads of soft skills that a joinery employer will look for. So make sure to include examples of the following in your application…

  • Good communication

  • Time management

  • Precise/attention to detail

  • Physical strength and stamina

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication skills

  • Creativity

  • Customer service.

It helps if you’re really good at Design & Technology at school. If you’ve managed to make bits that have joins, don’t throw them. Take photos and add them to a portfolio. Employers love to see the relevant projects you’ve been involved in and out of education.

How much does an apprentice joiner get paid?

As a base level, apprentices will earn a National Living Wage of £5.28 per hour. However, employers tend to pay their apprentices well above that rate.

How much, though, depends completely on the employer so you’ll need to do your research when you start your job hunt.

The average salary for an apprentice joiner ranged anywhere between £20,000 and £26,000 per year.

Is joinery a hard trade?

In short, yes. If you don’t like carrying the laundry basket from your room to the washing machine, you won’t enjoy joinery.

Joinery involves a lot of heavy lifting, using complicated tools and spending time on your feet. So you’ll need to be somewhat fit, especially if you’re a site joiner where you’ll be working on construction sites.

On top of that, you’ll need to be comfortable with heights if you’re a site joiner, as you’ll work on ladders or rooftops.

Joinery also requires attention to detail as you’ll be dealing with a lot of small parts and intricate joinings, so if you’re anything like Jennifer Lawrence - put the parts down, immediately.

Meet Aiden, an Apprentice Joiner at Ayrshire College, and find out all about what he does in his apprenticeship.

Are joiners in demand in the UK?

Yes! We won’t bore you with all the stats, but a report from Rated People showed that we couldn’t get enough carpenters and joiners in 2021 as businesses saw an increase in demand - 83%, to be exact.

Joiners are very much in demand, and the good news is, there’s room for loads more to join (literally). So, you’ll likely walk right into a job after your apprenticeship. 

Go on, what are you waiting for? Kick-start your career in joinery today.

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