Older female looking to get into carpentry (UK)

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by jjd, Sep 15, 2021.

  1. jjd

    jjd New Member


    I am seriously interested in finding an apprenticeship in carpentry/a way to get into this trade and be trained properly. As a female and being twice the age of the age of most apprentices, I know I have a lot going against me. But I was wondering if anyone could offer advice/point me in the right direction?

    I am physically fit, reliable, extremely interested in learning the trade and willing to relocate in order to do this, if any of this helps.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. woodbutcherbower

    woodbutcherbower Well-Known Member

    Where are you based? And are you interested in actual carpentry, or joinery? (Yes, there’s a difference).
  3. jjd

    jjd New Member

    I am interested in both, but mostly carpentry at this point. I am willing to relocate for work.
  4. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    What's your current employment background, do you drive, do you own tools, do you have a few thousand in the bank to sustain your outgoings whilst learning for a pittance, why choose Carpentry and not another trade, where in the country are you? Just for starters.
  5. jjd

    jjd New Member

    Mostly white collar/I do drive but do not have my own vehicle right now/I don't own tools/I can afford to surivive on a low salary for a while/because I am not as interested in the other trades, I like the creativity, the versatility, the 'making' part and because I grew up around it, it's what's familiar to me and I don't have as natural an interest in the other trades as I do in carpentry. I think I am good with my hands and have good attention to detail. I am based near London, but I am willing to consider anywhere if I got the chance to learn the trade.
  6. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    You are better off slowly building up a toolkit and teaching yourself the basics before committing yourself to losing the majority of your current income by going back to school. London will present a wider variety of options and opportunities for you than most other places plus you don't have the upheaval of moving. Enrol in a local college part time course if you are serious and ask the local carpenters around your area if they would take you on as a labourer on the weekends or whatever free days you have. Depending how old you are and what commitments you have, this will not be an easy undertaking.
  7. jjd

    jjd New Member

    Thanks. I was thinking I would be better off just trying to jump straight in and get on with it and commit to learning everything I can (which I am likely to do faster if working in it full-time). I'm old enough to know that I want to try this, but I don't have any commitments that would cause me problems.

    Thanks for the input. Pity you can't put your enthusiasm across to someone to explain that you are serious, in order to get an apprenticeship as an adult.
  8. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    The trouble with apprenticeships is that they are aimed at 16-24 year olds, which then legally allows the employers to pay them £3.50ish an hour slowly increasing to roughly a fiver by the time they are on their third year. Whilst morally questionable, the reality is that if you pay much more than that to start then you will lose out big time until the apprentice is six months in, learned enough to be left alone on certain tasks and built up their own toolkit. It's very difficult for an adult irrelevant whether male or female to break into the industry without youth, finance and time on their side as there is unfortunately no fast track to learning the trade.
  9. jjd

    jjd New Member

    Ok. I thought that rate was only in the first year though? Minimum wage for adults in year 2 I thought?
  10. jjd

    jjd New Member

    I've seen 'trainee Carpenter' positions advertised too. Would it be feasible to try to break into something like that and put yourself through C&G by doing a course in the evening do you think?
  11. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    I don't know about the pay rates for adults as I'm not an employer. Realistically it will depend on the employer irrespective of what any legal minimum wage legislation states as they could have two young apprentices for the same or less cost of one older one. In that instance they just wouldnt bother hiring you or let you go after the first year, which unfortunately happens a lot with all ages of apprentices.
  12. jjd

    jjd New Member

    Oh? Why does that happen so much?
  13. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Apparently it's called Business, or exploitation. It depends on the company, a larger national or regional one will be more inclined to treat people fairly as the damage to reputation is something they will wish to avoid. Smaller local companies may give you a foot in the door quicker but might have less scruples in dealing with you.
  14. jjd

    jjd New Member

    I had heard of that, but then some peopel tell you to try to get in with a smaller company as you would get better experience. Not if they get rid of you though I suppose. Thanks anyway for all the info.
  15. I-Man

    I-Man Screwfix Select

    get some tools, practice by doing carpentry work around your house, and then friends / family. That's a good start - you'll start learning some of the real day to day work carpenters actually do.
    Lot's of good youtube channels offering advice and tips / guides for all levels.
    rogerk101 likes this.
  16. mitefix

    mitefix Active Member

    I agree with the above Do some work for family/friends start off small ie boxing in of pipes etc and progress.

    Some jobs can look attractive from the outside until you start to learn the craft then you can then tell if its for you
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  17. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Screwfix Select

    I'm a pretty competent DIYer, and can honestly say that my work is up there with the pros ... maybe not the best of the pros, but certainly better than many who are coining it.
    I am constantly being asked by family, friends, friends of friends, etc to come and work on their houses ... stuff like fitting doors, changing skirtings, altering kitchens, etc. I always turn them down because I don't need the work, I prefer doing jobs for myself, and I don't want to get involved with liability insurance.
    Fact is that there are so many people out there, especially in the South East of England, looking for reliable quality woodworkers that you would not need any training ... just a huge commitment to pride in your work and attention to detail. All the rest can be found on YouTube.
    Go for it!
  18. LEH

    LEH Active Member

    Robin Clevett and the Tall Carpenter are both worth subscribing to on youtube. Scott brown carpentry, build with A&E. Joinery side of things - Bradshaw joinery, peter millard.
    SomeOfTheGear likes this.
  19. pppmacca43

    pppmacca43 Screwfix Select

    I would look on google and find every carpentry/joinery/building firm out there close enough to you and one by one send them all an email asking if they are looking for employees. Explain your situation to them and that u are happy to start as a labourer/mate whilst learning the trade as you go along and doing an evening/weekend course etc.

    You may start off sweeping up/making tea /carrying tools etc like any trainee but over time you will start picking it up.

    Be prepared that the vast majority probably won’t bother to reply but you never know there may be one who might. There is a lot of work out there at the moment and not enough tradesmen/women so lots of firms will be looking for people.
    WillyEckerslike likes this.
  20. WillyEckerslike

    WillyEckerslike Screwfix Select

    I agree with this approach. Someone with the correct attitude and willingness to learn is worth ten of those that don't want to be there and your potential should quickly become apparent. That said, attitude is not a substitute for aptitude so you will need to be able to demonstrate some ability before too long. Good luck in your endeavours.

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