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Like many other construction trades, joinery is a highly skilled job that takes several years to learn the basics. Following this, it is a skill that is refined over many years.
It is not uncommon, to hear fully qualified joiners mention that they are still learning and improving, after decades in the profession. This is due to the wide scope of work they carry out, and the unique challenges they face on a daily basis.
Joinery can be a great trade to get into, for many different reasons. Firstly, it is a skill for life, and it is a trade that is usually in high demand. Also, due to the variety of different skills within joinery, you will be involved in most stages of construction.
Joiners are often one of the first trades on site and one of the last to leave. Due to this, they end up working with many other trades, this means they tend to have a very broad understanding of the entire construction process.
Also, the money is quite good. A basic salary before overtime for a joiner employed by a company, is usually between £30,000 and £40,000 per year. If they eventually work for themselves as a sub-contractor or do private work, this number could be much higher.
In this article we are going to look at some of the main reasons joinery can be a good career choice.
1 – You will be learning a skill for life
As with any trade, you are learning a skill, and this is something that will stay with you for life. Even if you go on to another career in the future, a trade such as joinery, is something you will always have to fall back on.
You will also find that it is useful in your own life, outside of work and around the home. For example:
- Need a new kitchen fitting and don’t want to spend a small fortune? No problem, you can fit it yourself for free. You could also get massive trade discounts on the kitchen from companies like Howdens.
- Want to build decking in your back garden? Not a problem either, you will just need to buy the timber and you will have the skill to build it yourself.
- Seen the perfect property, but its run-down and needs fully renovating? Great! You can buy it cheap and do most of the work yourself.
Not only could you be doing these jobs for yourself, but other people will pay you good money to do this kind of work for them. This could be work you do on the side, outside of your main job, or you could set up for yourself and build your own business doing private jobs.
2 – Joinery is a great trade for variety
A site joiner is a very varied profession, you will be involved in almost every stage of the building process in one way or another. This means that the work you do, can vary quite a lot at different parts of a build.
For example, if you are working in new build properties, you may start by helping to set out and secure the site. Following this you will move on to first fix work, such as adding floor joists, roof trusses, internal stud-work, staircases, etc.
Following first fix you will move to second fix jobs, such as hanging doors, skirting and architrave, pipe boxing, wood flooring, kitchen fitting, etc.
Then finally, once the job starts coming to an end, you will need to go around and snag all the work, finding any little errors or imperfections. Once you have your snagging list you will complete all the small finishing work to complete the job.
Essentially, you can be there from start to finish and this gives you a very broad understanding of the entire build process. You also work very closely with other trades, such as:
Because of the wide scope of knowledge acquired as a joiner, it often makes it a preferred trade for promotion to site management positions. This is because they have experience working with many other trades, at all stages of the construction process. Due to this, they often have knowledge that many other trades simply won’t have.
3 – You can become self-employed or start your own business
Working for yourself is not for everyone. However, a trade such as joinery can be good if you want to go it alone.
You have several options when it comes to working for yourself as a joiner:
You can subcontract to other companies. This means you will not be employed directly by a company. Instead, they will hire you for individual jobs. This could result in you being on a job for weeks, months, or even years. The only difference is you don’t have the “security” of a full-time job on the books.
The advantage is you are often paid considerably more than someone working direct. You could have a higher hourly rate, in some cases you may quote for the entire job, and in some instances you me be hired for price work. When on price work you are paid for each individual job. For example, per door hung, per meter or skirting, etc.
The main disadvantage with being a sub-contractor, is you are only hired for the work they need you for. This can mean moving around quite a bit. Ideally, to be successful, you will need to build relationships with several different companies.
This will usually be residential work and will involve working in people’s homes. You could do this self-employed, or you could set up your own company.
The main advantage with this set up, is you are working entirely for yourself and generating your own work. This can mean much more money and much more freedom. However, this main advantage can also be the main weakness, as you may have dry patches where there is less work available.
This means you will need to be good at managing your finances. It’s often a good idea to make sure you save a percentage of your income for periods where there is less work.
Agency work is a little like being a sub-contractor. The main difference is you don’t need to worry about finding the work. Instead, the agency will provide you with the jobs. The advantage with this, is you don’t have to secure the jobs yourself. However, you will also earn less as a result, this is because the agency will take their cut.
It is also common for agency work to be short term. In some cases, you may only be on a job for a matter of weeks. Although, you will sometimes land longer contracts. Also, just like a sub-contractor, if you do a good job, the hiring company may request you directly from the agency for future work.
One of the main advantages of agency work is its flexible. If there is a lot of work about, you may be able to pick and choose the jobs you take. It can also be really good for filling the gaps when you don’t have sub-contracting or private work.
Joinery can be a fantastic career. It is a very varied, challenging, and interesting job. No job is ever identical and every day you will be solving new problems. Due to this, joinery is a trade where you never really stop learning.
The skills you acquire are very transferable and can come in extremely handy in your own day to day life. Even if you do leave the trade and work in a different sector, joinery is a skill that will never leave you, and you will always be able to earn a living as a skilled trades person.