Carpenter or electrician — which career path is better for me?


Ah, the old carpenter or electrician conundrum.

If you’re thinking of becoming a tradie, you might be wondering whether you should be a chippy or a sparky.

The truth is, they’re both great jobs. It just depends what type of work you prefer doing and what you want to do with your career further down the track.

So read on to learn about the differences between the carpenter vs electrician.

A day in the life of a chippy?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a carpenter? It seems like a fun job where you work with your hands. And if you’re not the type to feel stuck indoors, it certainly beats office work.

Many people enjoy this trade because you get a sense of satisfaction from creating something, like a house, that will be of real value and use to others.

Your day to day will involve reading drawings, cutting and assembling timber, erecting framing, and many other tasks.

In the similar role of joiner, you would work in a workshop to prepare the elements that carpenters use on site, like windows, cabinets and doors.

How much do chippies earn?

If you want a solid income that lets you live the Aussie dream, then becoming a chippy may appeal.

According to the government’s website JobOutlook, the average chippy earns a salary of $1,358 per week.

This translates to $70,616 per year – not bad, eh?

The same statistics also show that chippy jobs have strong future growth, so you have a good chance of job security for many years yet.

How do you become a Chippy? 

So how does one become a carpenter? The best way to start is by doing one of our carpentry courses.

Most people like to start with the  Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30220), which is done together with an apprenticeship and sets you up to become a qualified chippy.

But if you want to become a builder, supervisor or manager, you might like to do the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) (CPC40120).

This trains you in planning and coordinating small to medium sized construction projects and how to run a business.

If you’re not quite ready to do one of our carpentry courses, you might like to ease into things with a pre-apprenticeship.

The Certificate II in Construction Pathways (CPC20211) gets you ready for your apprenticeship in the building industry.

From carpenter to builder and beyond

By becoming a carpenter, you also open up your career to even bigger opportunities.

When you do your cert 4 with Builders Academy Australia, we even help you get your builders licence, which helps you earn even more money than the average chippy.

Or, once completing your cert 3 or 4, you could even do a diploma and transition into university, becoming an engineer, foreman, or other construction professional. 

Do your diploma with us, and you get guaranteed entry into Victoria University.

What’s the day in the life of a Sparky?

The electrician’s lifestyle has many similarities and differences to the carpenter’s.

For example, both do an apprenticeship, and both need a certificate to qualify.

Aside from the obvious differences in that a carpenter works with timber and an electrician works with electrical systems, a sparky typically works indoors more than a carpenter does.

An electrician’s apprenticeship also goes for 4 years compared to the carpenter’s 3 years.

How much do sparkies earn?

According to JobOutlook, the average Aussie sparky earns a salary of $1,823 per week. This comes to a total income of $94,796 per year.

The same stats show that electrician jobs are experiencing moderate growth, in contrast to strong job growth for the chippy.

How much could you be earning?

While we’ve given you a few estimates and averages for carpenter vs electrician salaries, your salary will be unique to your skills and experience. 

The more skills and experience you get, the higher your salary will be.

To work out how much you could be earning, try our salary quiz.

Carpenter vs electrician

If you’ve been thinking about working in the building or construction sector as a trade, then the carpenter and electrician careers are both good choices.

If you’re wondering if you should be a carpenter or electrician, think about what interests you more: structures or electrical systems.

While electricians earn a little more on average, carpenter apprenticeships are faster to complete. Becoming a chippy can also lead to becoming a builder, manager, or even getting a building degree.

So when it comes to the choice between sparky and chippy, it really just depends on what you’re more interested in and what type of lifestyle you want to live.

Thinking of doing a Certificate II in Construction Pathways (CPC20211), CPC30220 Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30220), Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) (CPC40120)? Get in touch to ask questions and confirm your eligibility for government funding on 1300 534 363 (LEGEND) or complete the online form.