What does a Theatre Carpenter do?

A Theatre Carpenter is a stagehand (maker/craftsperson) who builds sets and stage elements. They work with materials such as woods and metals and use techniques such as woodworking and welding. The Theatre Carpenter team will include a Master Carpenter who acts as management.

What are the main responsibilities of a Theatre Carpenter?

Responsibilities and duties of a Theatre Carpenter in this area depend on the needs of the Set Designer and Director and also the size of the theatre.

Master Carpenter

  • Manage the rest of the team, review blueprints, models, sketch plans and specifications 
  • Order materials and assign Stage Carpenters in the crew to complete tasks to meet deadlines
  • Handle payroll approvals and admin
  • Ensure all tools and equipment are maintained and in working order
  • Responsible for scheduling fire safety inspections and ensuring safety procedures are followed

Stage Carpenter

  • Cut, shape or carve different sized items and assemble pieces
  • Assist Stage Runners performing various tasks during live productions
  • Assist with moving set pieces such as scenery, furniture or props
  • Assist with handling ropes, wires, or other rigging
  • Assist with carpentry-related theatre building repairs or renovations and new construction

Search training, experience and funding opportunities in carpentry from across the theatre industry here

What qualifications do I need to be a Theatre Carpenter?

There are no formal qualifications required for this role, however a formal qualification in one of the following subjects would be beneficial:

  • Carpentry
  • Design Technology
  • Art

There are many apprenticeships available where you can learn carpentry and this is normally the route Carpenters take to train this craft.  It is also helpful to have certifications in health and safety practices, such as a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card in the UK.

Find opportunities in carpentry to help you get into theatre here

What skills do I need to be a Theatre Carpenter?

  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Numeracy skills
  • Patience
  • Ability to understand technical plans 
  • Technical ability

What does a career in carpentry look like?

Many Theatre Carpenters are self-employed. You must be able to promote yourself within the industry. You will often have a network of Production Managers, Set Designers and Producers. Read our blog 'How to become a freelancer in theatre' here. Once you build a portfolio and a reputation, you should get more regular work. Theatre Carpenters often start out as a apprentices or assistants. 

How much does a Theatre Carpenter earn?

Grade 1 or 2 rates for 2023-2025 as per the SOLT/BECTU Agreement suggests a minimum weekly rate of £717.57- £840.91. This would be for a Deputy Master Carpenter and Master Carpenter working 40 hours per week. As a freelancer you will set your own rates based on the level work required per production, which can vary depending on the materials and level of skill needed. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


Photo: Shutterstock

Updated: 6th June 2024

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