Do carpenters make good money? Find out!

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Carpentry is a skilled trade. As a result, their pay is higher than the average unskilled worker. The amount of money a carpenter can earn, will depend on several factors. These include:

  • Are they employed full time (on the books)?
  • Do they work for themselves as a sub-contractor?
  • Are they running their own business working in people’s homes?
  • Do they specialise in a specific type of carpentry?
  • How are they paid? Hourly, daily, salary, price work, etc.
  • The state of the economy and building sector.

All of the above can influence how much a carpenter can make. However, if you are looking at carpentry as a new career, you would usually be working as an employee, working for a company.

do carpenters make good money

If you are employed as a carpenter, you would usually have an hourly rate, that would translate into a certain amount per year. According to, this number is £21.71 on average.

The numbers below are based on a standard hourly rate:

  • Per day – £173.68
  • Per week – £868.40
  • Per month – £3,763.07
  • Per year – £45,156.80

It is worth noting, that the above is an average. It will include higher amounts for more experienced carpenters. As well as higher rates in areas like London.

The total annual amount can usually be increased if overtime is available, as this will also me paid at an hourly rate, above your normal working hours.

For example, if you worked every Saturday as overtime for an entire year, you could potentially increase your overall salary by 20% or more. This will depend on the rate you are paid for overtime. Often this will be higher than your standard hourly rate (time and a half for example).

Can you make good money as a self-employed carpenter?

In the above example, we looked at the average income working as an employee.

When you train as a carpenter, you will usually be employed by a company. Then following your apprenticeship, you may stay with the company, or you may move on and work for somebody else.

Many carpenters will remain working as an employee for their entire career and never decide to go self-employed, and this does have several benefits

  • You have a fixed wage.
  • There is no need to look for new job opportunities (work is provided by the company).
  • You get paid holidays every year
  • Transport is often provided
  • In some cases certain tools may also be provided

If you decide to work for yourself, as either a self-employed sub-contractor or a limited company, all of these perks go away.

However, you do have the opportunity to exceed a standard employee salary. As a general rule, someone working as a sub-contractor on an hourly rate, will be on a better rate than a full time employee.

There is also the opportunity for price work. This could be fixed prices for individual tasks or a full price for an entire job. This can often mean considerably higher pay.

The main thing to consider with this option, is you do have much more responsibility. You need to find your own work, pay your own taxes, buy and maintain all your tools and vehicles, and there is no paid holidays.

With that said, you do have more freedom. This can be great if you are in demand and the industry is busy, as you will often have a choice of work, and much higher rates of pay.

It really is a trade-off. Some people would prefer to earn less and switch of at 4.30pm when they down tools. Working for yourself certainly means longer hours and more work off site (paperwork, etc). For this reason it’s not for everyone, but the rewards can be high for those willing to take on the extra responsibility.

How can the economy effect a carpenter’s income

Poor economic conditions and recessions will often have a detrimental effect on how much money a carpenter can make. For example, due to the financial crash in 2007/08, the construction industry as a whole took a considerable hit.

Carpenters and other trades saw work start to really dry up. If you were working as a sub-contractor at this time, the rates were much closer to employee rates, and work was much thinner on the ground.

For employees, there is obviously the risk of lay-offs. Plus, for those that kept their jobs, things like overtime went away, and hourly rates stagnated without any rise for several years.

Obviously, in bad economic times all industries are affected. However, construction is usually one of the worst hit. In many cases, projects will be put on hold, and companies will often run jobs at breakeven, or even a small loss, in order to keep the wheels turning.

This means the supply and demand skews in the opposite direction. Essentially there is less work available for carpenters, but there is still the same number of carpenters. As a result, the rates of pay naturally lower.

In general, these periods are far less frequent, and they don’t last forever. However, they are worth considering.


Carpenters do make good money. This is especially true when there is lots of demand for their services.

The average yearly pay for an employed carpenter, is roughly 18% higher than the UK average for all full time workers. This is based on data from the Office for national statistics.

 A good self-employed carpenter can make considerably more money than an employee. There is also the opportunity to specialise in certain disciplines. This could include things like:

  • Kitchen fitting
  • Shuttering
  • Shop fitting

By specialising in these and other areas there is further potential to be paid a premium for your services.

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