The Full Guide to Becoming Self Employed: Carpenter

‘How do people start or find a carpenter job?’ is a question asked by many looking to start a carpentry career. It’s creative, rewarding, and will always be needed. How does somebody break into this line of work?

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Becoming a recognised carpenter

When becoming a carpenter, experience and training are more important than qualifications. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t qualifications in the trade, but they aren’t a legal requirement.


There are different ways you can start training as a carpenter some more viable than others.

A good way to gain experience early on is through shadowing another carpenter. This is a good way to see what a standard working day is like. As you won’t be earning through your carpentry at this stage, it will have to fit in alongside your other work. This means that it may take a long time before you have gained enough knowledge to go it alone. 

You can also try teaching yourself through online resources. There are online courses offered by some professional carpenters, as well as countless useful videos on Youtube. One way that can help is to follow along with other people’s carpentry projects that are documented online. This can be both an entertaining and informative way to expand your knowledge. 

A very popular way is through a carpentry apprenticeship. As an apprentice, you would be earning from your training, and gain hands-on experience of completing carpentry jobs. This would take about 4 years, assist in building an effective portfolio and give a qualification at the end. It also gives you the chance to build a relationship with the company, with some offering the chance to stay on afterward.


Qualifications are not legally required to take on carpentry work in the UK.

However, there are carpentry qualifications widely available. Obtaining a level 3 diploma in site carpentry, a level 2 formwork qualification (carpenter), or something equivalent, proves that you know enough about your trade to have become certified.


Carpenters are often given creative freedom during a job, as some clients might not know exactly what they want. Because of this, it’s a good idea to start building a portfolio. Simply document the previous work you’ve done, including any personal projects, and show them to clients. 

Starting the business

Actually getting your self-employed ventures off the ground after training can be difficult. It’s essential to make the right choices early on so that you get the most out of it. The most important, and potentially limiting choice, is what kind of business you decide to build.

You could decide to create a limited company. This would make you an employee of your own business, and you would pay yourself with a salary and dividends. The responsibility is split between you and any shareholders, meaning that any debt isn’t solely on you.

You could also decide to become a sole trader, where you are your business. The profits and debts are both your responsibility, and the company decisions are yours to make. You can still have employees as a sole trader, but they won’t be paid out of the business’s accounts, it would be out of yours.

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