Carpenter Kaihanga Whare

Carpenters work mainly with wood to repair or install foundations, walls, roofs, windows and doors in buildings.

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Some building work has to be carried out or overseen by a Licensed Building Practitioner. To get a licence, you have to prove your experience and/or have appropriate qualifications.

Carpenters may do some or all of the following:

  • study building plans and architectural drawings
  • select building materials
  • measure and cut materials to the right size and shape
  • construct building frames and install cladding on the inside and outside of buildings
  • install windows, staircases and doors
  • renovate and do repair work on older houses. 

Physical Requirements

  • Carpenters need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, as building work can involve a lot of heavy lifting.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for carpenters includes:

  • draughting
  • woodwork
  • labouring on a construction site
  • any other building trade experience.

Personal Qualities

Carpenters need to be:

  • accurate, efficient and organised 
  • adaptable
  • comfortable working at heights and in confined spaces 
  • safety-conscious
  • able to work well in a team and good at communicating
  • able to follow instructions.  


Carpenters need to have:

  • building and carpentry skills
  • knowledge of building methods and materials
  • a basic level of maths
  • skill interpreting drawings and architectural plans
  • the ability to properly use and maintain tools
  • an understanding of building and safety regulations.



  • usually work regular business hours, but may also work weekends
  • work on building sites and in existing buildings
  • work in conditions that may be wet, muddy, dusty, noisy, cramped or at height
  • travel locally to building sites.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, construction and mechanical technologies, design and visual communication, English, and science to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful. 

Year 11 and 12 learners can find out more about the construction industry, and gain relevant skills, by doing a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (Levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme.

For Year 11, 12 and 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Carpenters can earn around $23-$25 per hour.

Chances of getting a job as a Carpenter are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for carpenters varies depending on skills, experience and where they work. 

  • Carpentry apprentices may start on the training minimum wage or minimum wage, with pay increasing as they gain skills and complete unit standards.
  • Experienced carpenters, or those who have completed an apprenticeship, usually earn $25 to $45 an hour.
  • Carpenters in positions such as site foreman can earn up to $65 an hour.

Those running their own business may earn more than this, but their income depends on the success of the business. 

Source: Hays, 2022; and research, 2022.

Experienced carpenters may progress to become self-employed or work as building contractors, or move into supervisory or management roles.  

Carpenters may specialise in either commercial or residential carpentry.

Years Of Training

3-4 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a carpenter as you gain skills on the job. However, many employers prefer to hire carpenters who have or are working towards a qualification.

To become a qualified carpenter you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4).

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) oversees carpentry apprenticeships. 

Experienced carpenters with no qualifications can ask BCITO to have their skills assessed and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4).

A New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry can also be completed through carpentry apprenticeships with the New Zealand Army.