Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Kelly from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brian Kelly

Science Entrepreneur

BioPharmachem Ireland

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Brian Kelly
Go for it!  But realise that its not going to be easy and things take time and there are LOTS of sacrifices to make. Also make sure you learn from your mistakes - because you will make them. It is really only a mistake if you don't learn from it.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Carpenter / Joiner
In Summary header image

Carpenter / Joiner

The Carpenter and Joiner cuts, shapes and joins wood and wood based products using a wide range of hand tools, e.g. hammer, saw, planes and chisels. They also use power tools and machines.

Oisín Murphy - Carpentry & Joiner Apprentice, John Sisk & Son Ltd

Carpenters and Joiners use their skills to set out and construct roofs, install floors, stairs and window, built-in furniture and hang doors. They also manufacture doors, windows, stairs and shopfronts, etc.

The Carpenter and Joiner has to study drawings, perform craft calculations and select materials to meet design requirements.

Site work includes the construction of buildings and houses which require first and second fixing, including roofing. The place of work may vary, depending on the type of work done could be on site, in a workshop or in a private dwelling.

Video: David Morgan, P & L Carpentry Co. Meath 

Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade.  

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.


Training header image

Phase 1: With Employer 

  • Induction Training
  • Introduction to Health & Safety
  • Introduction to Tools & Equipment
  • Introduction to Basic Skills

Phase 2: Delivered in Training Centre (20 weeks) 
Course Content: 
  • Induction
  • Basic Hand Tools and Joints
  • Roofs
  • 1st and 2nd Fixing
  • Machinery and Joinery
Phase 3: With Employer 
Work Based Training and Assessments 

Phase 4: Delivered in Educational Colleges (10 weeks) 
Course Content:
  • Site Work
  • Roofs
  • Joinery 
Phase 5: With Employer 
Work Based Training and Assessments 

Phase 6: Delivered in Educational Colleges (10 weeks) 
Course Content:
  • Roofs
  • Joinery
  • Basic Site Setting Out and Levelling
Phase 7: With Employer 

Work Based Training and Assessments 

The overall duration of this apprenticeship is a minimum of 4 years provided all phases are successfully completed. 

On successful completion of the programme the learner is awarded a Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft - Carpentry & Joinery

Personal Qualities header image

As a Carpenter and Joiner you will need to be physically active and to be able to work with your hands. An awareness of health and safety and good housekeeping is essential as well as attention to detail and an eye for the aesthetic.

The Carpenter and Joiner must have the ability to:

  • Plan and organise
  • Communicate effectively
  • Solve problems
  • Work independently and as part of a team
  • Show a positive attitude
  • Recognise the need for good customer relations
  • Demonstrate good work practices including time keeping, tidiness, responsibility, quality awareness and safety awareness

Work Activities header image

  • Learning and developing new practical craft-related skills, knowledge and competence
  • Working with and learning from experienced Craftspersons
  • Seeing a job through from start to finish
  • Comply with Health and Safety requirements
  • Working with wood and allied materials
  • Being accurate with measuring and craft calculations
  • Working with technical drawings and diagrams
  • Working with hand and power tools or machinery
  • Operating, controlling and adjusting equipment/machines
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Being well organised and careful with practical tasks
  • Working at heights
  • Lifting or carrying heavy items
  • Taking responsibility for own learning, including the allocation of study time
  • Can be based in a workshop, factory or construction site
  • Being physically active
  • Passing all your phase exams (theory, practicals skills demonstration)
  • Earning as you learn

Pay & Fees header image

Funding Arrangements

All apprentices are paid a Training Allowance while attending off-the-job training in training centres or college, and an Apprentice Rate of pay during the on-the-job phases of their apprenticeship.

Details of the Training Allowances payable are available here.

What apprentice rate wages are paid?

Apprentice rates are paid for the on-the-job phases of apprenticeships. The actual rates paid may vary depending on the occupation and employer. Generally, the rates will increase in a number of steps during the apprenticeship. For example:


All other Trades




€ / hr

€ / hr

1st Year Rate

2nd Year Rate

3rd Year Rate

4th Year Rate









Note: You should always seek details of specific rates of pay for apprentices from prospective employers.

Apprentice Student Contribution

The Annual Student Contribution is levied on students attending Higher Education Institutions including Institutes of Technology. As part of the changes included in Budget 2014, apprentices now pay the same contribution as full time students, but their contribution is based on the time they spend in the Institute or College.

The Student Contribution is payable to the IoT /College on the date of registration for the training phase. You should consult the relevant IoT/College for details of payment options.

Note: Apprentices are required to pay an examination fee to the IoT or College for repeat exams. 

Female Apprentices' bursary for employers

To promote the entry of women into the designated apprenticeships, a bursary is available to employers to encourage an increased level of recruitment of female apprentices.

For more information Click here or contact your local ETB Training Centre.

Entry Requirements header image

The minimum age at which the employment of an apprentice may commence is 16 years of age. 
The minimum educational requirements are: 
1. Grade D in five subjects in the Department of Education & Skills Junior Certificate Examination or an approved equivalent,
2. The successful completion of an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course 
3. Three years’ work experience gained over sixteen years of age in a relevant designated industrial activity as SOLAS shall deem acceptable 

Note: These are the current approved minimum educational requirements for apprenticeship programmes, however, previous experience of the following subjects would be an advantage but not essential:

  • Mathematics
  • Technical Drawing/Graphics
  • Construction Studies
  • Materials Technology
Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade.  

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade  O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.

Getting an Apprenticeship header image

You must obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen occupation.

  • The employer must be approved to train apprentices.
  • The employer must register you as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment.
Are you interested in a construction apprenticeship?
If so, register your interest by creating an account and uploading a short personal profile via this link.

Career Opportunities header image

On successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, apprentices are qualified to work within the recognised trade or profession. 

Where apprentices and craftspersons have the necessary ability, initiative and basic qualifications, opportunities are available for advancement. These include advanced technology courses and management courses which are available in Institutes of Technology, Schools of Management and Professional Institutes.

Many craftspersons use their apprenticeship qualification as a platform to launch careers such as engineers, managers, owners of businesses, teachers and instructors amongst others.

For top-level carpentry apprentices with an ambition to progress, career progression routes would include:

  • Site manager
  • Contract Manager
  • Clerk of Works
Starting your own business is also a desirable step for those with entrepreneurial flair.

The trade is also very transferable across the country as well as being valuable internationally.

Occupation Profile header image

Progression Routes header image

Occupation Data

Carpenter / Joiner

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