Choosing the right employer for your apprenticeship..

Well done on deciding on a career in carpentry. It’s an exciting pathway that leads to a whole range of job opportunities from house framing and cabinet making to building and supervising. The possibilities are vast and in order to be successful, job site experience is essential.

An apprenticeship is a combination of classroom instruction and on the job training under the guidance of an employer. Picking an employer is an important step in laying the groundwork for a successful career. In this blog we outline some tips to help you choose a great apprenticeship employer.

Reputation and credibility

Obviously an employer with a reputation for quality training and fair business practices will make a good choice. But how do you go about finding this information? If you’re looking for a builder employer, you can use resources like the Master Builders Association Victoria to check whether your employer has accreditation from them. This shows a willingness on the part of the employer to maintain industry standards. Another idea is to search for reviews on Google or platforms like True Local. What customers say about them and their work will tell you a lot about how they conduct themselves. Finally, don’t forget to ask friends and family for recommendations.

Commitment to safety

Safety is another important factor to consider. As a carpenter you will be working with various tools and may be working at heights, so you want to choose an employer that values safety. Head to WorkSafe Victoria’s page on carpentry to learn about industry standards, how to use tools and lift different objects, and other safety information. You’ll gain a better understanding of an employer’s obligations and your rights as an apprentice. During your initial site visit you can then observe the basics (e.g. clear signage, well organised and uncluttered work areas) and note the attitude to safety (e.g. are people wearing Personal Protective Equipment, is safety mentioned during your interview?). Also ask about safety procedures on site (e.g. If I notice a potential safety hazard, how should I report it?) and note the employer’s reaction to your question. An employer who values safety will welcome the question and be willing to share more about their safety protocols.

Opportunities for progression

Not all businesses will be able to provide career progression. It’s more likely to be an opportunity in a large company. However, you want to ensure that you’re getting the best training possible. Ask the employer what type of work you’ll be doing and whether there is an opportunity to hone different skills. For instance, if you’re a cabinet maker, you may start at factory level overseeing the cutting of cabinet doors. Will you be given the opportunity to also observe and participate in fit outs, and measure and quotes? At what stage will these opportunities be offered to you? Will you be supported by the employer if you want to upskill or transition from a Certificate III in Carpentry to a Diploma of Building and Construction? All these questions show initiative and an eagerness on your part to learn and improve, which should be welcomed by an employer who is invested in training you properly.


Having someone mentor you through your apprenticeship is especially important. This might be something influenced by the size of the business and availability of appropriate mentors. Ask the employer who you will be working with. You don’t want to be a labourer to another apprentice. You want to be working with someone who is highly skilled and hopefully patient who can teach you and guide you. While you won’t know the personality of the people you’re working with until you get out to jobs, asking the question can hopefully reassure you that someone with experience will be guiding you. You might also gauge the type of people that work for the employer, and the general culture of the workplace, when you visit the office or job site. Pay attention to how people are interacting and talking to each other.

Payment and fair treatment

It’s also important that you receive a fair rate of pay and get the breaks and other things you’re entitled to as an apprentice. You can visit the Fair Work site to gain an understanding of what your employer is obligated to provide. You can then compare to the information your employer gives you. Are you getting at least the minimum wage? Are you being given the right amount of time for breaks? Are you entitled to a tool allowance? Also ask about whether there are opportunities to work overtime and whether you’ll be paid for such time.

Contract of employment

You’ll most likely be given an employment contract to sign. Contracts can be full of legal jargon and hard to understand. Have someone who’s more experienced read through your contract to help you understand it thoroughly before you sign. There may be rules about a variety of workplace issues including use of company vehicles, start and finish times, the use of mobile phones, posting to social media, and even the consumption of alcohol and drugs. If you need further guidance about your contract, you can visit the Australian Apprenticeship Pathways website. Once you’re signed up as an apprentice, you should also have a contact from a Group Training Organisation (GTO) that you can speak to with any concerns that arise.

At TIV we take great pride in educating and mentoring students through successful construction careers. Our support extends beyond the classroom which is why we want to see you find the best employer for your apprenticeship. Approach the selection process armed with the advice in this blog and you’ll be well on your way to making a good choice. While you’re at the start of your career now, choosing the right employer can set you up as a highly skilled, future professional in the field of carpentry and beyond.

To find out more about our carpentry apprenticeship courses or to discuss your options, contact our friendly course advisors on 03 933 9511 or visit


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