Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Carpenters and Joiners

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

There are good job prospects for carpenters and joiners over the next few years, due to growing building activity in Auckland. Other regions still have many opportunities.

How to become a carpenter or joiner

What they do

Carpenters work on-site constructing large and small buildings, and repairing and installing structures such as foundations, walls, roofs, windows, and doors.

Joiners measure, cut, prepare and assemble timber and timber board products to make interior fittings such as kitchen cabinets, shop fittings, laminate bench tops, timber doors, window frames, and stairs.

Their tasks may include:

  • studying drawings and specifications to determine materials required, dimensions and installation procedures
  • ordering and selecting timbers and materials, and preparing layouts
  • cutting materials, and assembling and nailing cut and shaped parts
  • erecting framework and roof framing, laying sub-flooring and floorboards and verifying trueness of structures
  • nailing fascia panels, sheathing roofs, and fitting exterior wall cladding and door and window frames
  • assembling prepared wood to form structures and fittings ready to install
  • cutting wood joints
  • constructing concrete formwork
  • repairing existing fittings
  • working with plastic laminates, perspex and metals.


There is no entry requirement to work as a carpenter. But, employers are increasingly looking for people with (or willing to work towards) a National Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4), which is mainly done as part of an apprenticeship.

The National Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4) typically takes about four years. You need this qualification, or its equivalent, if you want to become a licensed carpenter under the government's ‘streamline’ licensed building practitioner process. It is still possible for you to become a licensed building practitioner without being qualified. This is done by undergoing a more extensive assessment.

Although other qualifications and other licence classes are available in specialised building areas (for example, roofing, and brick & block-laying), licensed carpenters are able to work across a wider range of building tasks without supervision.

For joinery there is no entry requirement to start the qualification. However, employers are increasingly looking for those who have at least NCEA Level 2 to enter into the trade (entry can be through a pre-trade Level 2-3 joinery qualification).

Alternatively, a common pathway is to complete a Level 4 qualification, then gain employment with a joinery company that offers an apprenticeship. More often, a three-to-four-year apprenticeship is offered to gain the qualification while working.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Cost of study

National Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4, Apprenticeship)National Certificate in Joinery - Craftsperson (Level 4, Apprenticeship)
$3,100-4,000 $3,100-4,000

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme.Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

The least expensive way to train as a carpenter or joiner is to become an apprentice. That way, you can earn while gaining a qualification.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

Apprenticeship training is arranged nationwide by the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO). The Industry Training Association for Building (ITAB) operates its own scheme of managed apprenticeships through a few polytechnics around New Zealand.


Pre-trade Level 2-3 joinery qualifications are offered at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) and the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).

BCITO looks after training for the joinery, glass and glazing, architectural aluminium joinery and kitchen design industries.



Carpenters with the right qualifications or experience can apply to become licensed building practitioners. This is done through the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Licensing may be approved once an assessor has reviewed the application, called referees about prior work history, and conducted a phone interview with the applicant.

Joiners are not licensed.

MBIE Building and Housing:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing Level 4 certificates in carpentry and joinery grew from 2009 to 2013, but has declined a little since then. In 2017, there were around 820 graduates.

Qualification completions chart


Source: Ministry of Education

In June 2018 there were 20,124 licensed building practitioners in carpentry across NZ.

Income and employment prospects


According to the Certified Builders Association, carpenters and joiners usually earn between $16 and $30 per hour. Their average income earned is estimated to be $50,500. Carpentry and joinery apprentices are likely to enter the trade on the training wage or on the minimum wage.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index.

Employment and skill shortages

Carpenters and joiners’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
15,045 12,291 11,670 11,800
  -2.8% -0.9% 0.2%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Bricklayers, Carpenters and Joiners”.

Over the next five years, we expect there will be continued demand for carpenters and joiners in Auckland due to the increasing building activity there. Work will  slow up to 2023, where a slight decline is expected, but should pick up a little towrds 2028.

Employment chart


Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
10% 23% 2% 77% $53,000


Source: Tertiary Education Commission *Three years after completion of L4 Certificate – Building.

Three years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Building, 75% of graduates were employed and 10% were overseas. The median annual salary at that point was around $53,000.

Carpenters and joiners are on Immigration New Zealand's Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List for all regions. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for carpenters and joiners increased very quickly from 2010 to 2016. This is probably due to increased demand during the Canterbury rebuild and the housing boom in Auckland.

Jobs advertised chart


Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Carpenter and joiner vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs:

Career path

After several years of experience, many carpenters become building contractors, running their own businesses. Building contractors may plan, supervise or work on the construction and alteration of buildings. Many carpenters and joiners also establish their own businesses.

BCITO provides an overview of the potential career path of someone starting out in carpentry.

BCITO, Career progression:

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level carpenters and joiners.

  • Boat Builder
  • Building Contractor
  • Cabinet Maker
  • Fixing Carpenter
  • Formwork Carpenter
  • Hammerhand
  • Joinery Machinist
  • Joinery Patternmaker
  • Joinery Setter-out
  • Prop and Scenery maker
  • Shopfitter
  • Wood Joiner

Other information


More information on butchers is available on the Careers New Zealand website or through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand: (Carpenter)
Careers New Zealand: (Joiner)
Just the Job video clip: Careers in the Building Industry - Overview
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Building and Carpentry
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Carpentry
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Carpentry CHCH
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Frame and Truss Manufacturing
Just the Job video clip: Residential Building
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Timber Joinery
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Architectural Aluminium Joinery


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of carpenters and joiners has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

3312 – Carpenters and Joiners