Carpenter or builder? Which career path to choose


Whether you want to be a carpenter or a builder, you’ll have a rewarding career ahead of you. With the building and construction industry still booming in Australia, you’ll have great job opportunities well into the future. But how do you know whether you should pursue carpentry or become a builder? Let’s tease out the differences and the benefits of each.

What does a carpenter do?

As a carpenter, you’ll build and fix buildings using wood and other materials. You’ll create things like home framing, roofs and floor. You might even work on infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Roles and responsibilities of a carpenter at the construction site:

  • Following designs and plans

  • Install windows, doors, moulding, and other parts of homes

  • Measure materials and cut them to specifications

  • Fix or replace frameworks and structures

  • Work with a team of carpenters and labourers


How to become a qualified carpenter in Australia

How can I become a qualified carpenter in Australia?

To become a qualified carpenter in Australia, you need to gain experience by doing your 4-year apprenticeship while studying a CPC30220 Certificate III in Carpentry. This qualification will give you the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to do a job you can be proud of, and will open up heaps of job opportunities. It covers topics such as carpentry techniques, power tools and equipment, construction methods and materials, and workplace health and safety.

When you study your Cert III in Carpentry with BAA, you get the best education in the industry. We’re an award-winning, nationally recognised training organisation and have trained thousands of Aussie carpenters in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

We help hook you up with an apprenticeship, and while you study, our experienced trainers and mentors will help get you job-ready for the future.  

What is a builder?

A builder is usually a qualified carpenter or tradie who has gone on to get their builders licence. They are qualified to do bigger construction projects. They also have more skills and knowledge in managing teams or businesses. Unlike carpenters, builders tend to get off the tools.

Roles and responsibilities

  • oversee, coordinate and manage project

  • construct, repair or renovate homes and other buildings

  • complete projects from start to finish

make sure health and safety regulations are followed

How to become a qualified builder in Australia

How can I become a professional builder in Australia?

To become a registered builder in Victoria, you will need to apply for a builder’s licence with Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

This process is very involved, which is why many builders choose to do the CPC40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction or the Diploma of Building and Construction (CPC50220).

The Certificate IV and Diploma will cover the skills and knowledge required to manage construction projects from start to finish, including project planning, scheduling, budgeting, and supervising workers. In these qualifications, you learn everything you need to know to become a builder, run your own business, and pass the application. 

At BAA, we give our students extra support in the form of a building registration mentorship. This free mentorship comes with the Certificate IV and helps you pass the VBA application with flying colours.

Depending on your state and residency status, you could be eligible for government funding for this course. If you live in Vic, you could be eligible for a government subsidy through the Victorian Skills First program. Get in touch to learn more.

BAA offers advice on how you can get government subsidies, but we also offer different payment options and plans to suit your needs:

  • Direct Deposit or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

  • Credit Card or Cheque

  • Victorian Skills First subsidy

  • Payment plan with Debit Success

How much do builders earn?

When it comes to choosing your career, salary considerations are nothing to sneeze at.

While a high salary is great, it also comes with more responsibility—and that might not be worth it for you.

While the salary of a licensed builder is slightly higher than the salary of qualified carpenters, consider your values and preferred lifestyle before making a decision.

Average salary of a carpenter

The average carpenter earns $30.68 per hour.

Average salary of a builder

The average builder earns $36.30 per hour.

These Payscale stats are based on averaging hundreds of recent carpentry or builder salaries in Australia. 


Become a builder or carpenter with Builders Academy Australia

Do you want to become a builder or carpenter?

If you’ve been tossing between carpentry and becoming a builder, you’ll now know that whichever one you choose, a rewarding career in the building industry awaits.

If you become a carpenter, you’ll be a tradie with the option of working for a company or even starting your own small business. 

Carpentry is great if you want to dive into work straight after your apprenticeship and avoid further studies. It’s also good if you’re not keen on the responsibilities of becoming a builder.

But if you’re up for a bigger challenge, set your sights on becoming a builder. With your building licence, you can work on larger projects, lead a bigger team, and earn a higher salary.

Got questions about the CPC30220 Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30220)? Give us a call today on 1300 534 363 (LEGEND) or complete the online form, and one of our course advisors will get in touch soon.

This article has been updated and republished on 24th April 2023.