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What does a Carpenter do?

Carpenters are artisans who saw, shape, fit and erect wooden frameworks, roof timbers and boarding for the construction of and fitting out of buildings. The work of carpenters starts at the planning stage with the study of the architectural drawings, so that they can select the correct type of timber for the work. They have to be able to recognise and utilise the different types of timber to their best advantage.

Their duties also include calculating quotes, meeting with clients and creating design plans for remodeling projects. In addition, they  lay wood and block flooring, fit kitchen dressers to walls and repair damaged woodwork in buildings. They work closely with other construction workers such as bricklayers, plasterers and tilers.


What qualifications do I need?

There are three ways to qualify as a registered artisan. Firstly, you can do an apprenticeship culminating in a written trade test, which will get you certification with a professional body. Secondly, you can enroll for a learnership, which comprises theoretical and practical training. And thirdly, you can enroll at a TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) college and study towards a National Certificate Vocational (NCV) - a 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4).

All prospective carpenters are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, you can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET college. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

What subjects do I need?

Engineering Graphics
Physical Science


Where can I study?

Boland TVET College
NCV: Civil Engineering and Building Construction

Capricorn TVET College
Nated: Engineering (Civil)

Central Johannesburg TVET College
NCV Civil Engineering and Building Construction - National Certificate (Vocational) Civil Engineering and Building Construction

Coastal KZN TVET College
Skills Programme: Carpentry - Certificate Carpentry

Where can I get more info?

Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) - www.masterbuilders.org.za
Association of Woodturners South Africa - www.awsa.org.za/


Interview with a Carpenter

Howard Joseph | CARPENTER

Howard Joseph | CARPENTER


Why did you choose to become a carpenter as a trade profession? 
I worked with my father from a young age. He inspired me with his talent and enthusiasm. I decided to go further into the field of carpentry because of him. 

What do you do in your spare time? 
In my spare time I make things now and then for around the house, or I do part-time jobs to build more carpentry experience and a name for myself. 

Did you undergo any training? 
I have not had any training as a carpenter. Over many years I have worked hard and built up a lot of experience from being involved with different companies and private clients. 

Describe a typical day on the job
I would describe a typical day as one where nothing goes the way it should and it feels like a Monday all day. Just kidding :) (though often it does feel like ‘one of those days’).

The most enjoyable aspect of working as a carpenter? 
The things I like the most about my job is that every day you get to learn something new, explore fresh ideas and be creative about all the different aspects of the work that you’re involved in. 

What is the thing you like least about your work?
I really don’t like my work coming off second best at the final stages, because I’m very proud of what I create. I also struggle when my work is criticised by my boss or a client. 

What hurdles have you had to overcome?
Many times when a project has to be done in time to meet a deadline there are delays or snags, which creates a lot of pressure. I have to work twice as hard to be at my best and to get the job done. 

What’s been the highlight of your career? 
I’ve been working for seven years in the carpentry industry. My highlight was working as a junior foreman employed at Katull Construction. 

What are your future goals? 
I’d like to have my own business, to let other people work and learn what I have, and to build up experience to improve my skills even further. 

Experience vs training? 
Experience is important as it gives you a headstart, whereas formal training is a slower process. You can always learn new things. 

Is there a type of personality best suited to being a carpenter? 
I would say personality counts – you must have a strong character and determination. 

Any advice for someone starting out? 
Give it all you’ve got, explore new ideas, and learn and take in as much as you can.

Describe your job in three words
Fun, eventful and hardworking.

Interview date: May 2017