Chris McKnight started his career on a combined carpentry and joinery apprenticeship. Today, he’s a lead installer for a high-end joinery company working on a wide variety of residential jobsites. He chatted to us about what he loves about his job.
Keeping it interesting
“I’ve been a joiner now for more than 13 years and during that time I’ve seen both sides of the coin. Having worked on much larger scale non-residential projects, I prefer the range of work I get on smaller residential jobs. From one day to the next I can be working on anything from installing a kitchen to a walk-in robe. It’s the chance to move around to lots of different sites while meeting new clients and other trades people. There’s always new and different challenges popping up. That’s what makes it so interesting for me.”
Learn as you go
“During my apprenticeship, I worked under a number of different trades including carpenters, joiners, cabinet makers and furniture makers. I took away a little bit of knowledge from each. But I think I learned the most when I finally got put in at the deep end to run a project. When you need to be independent and responsible you have to learn fast.”
“For me, the skills I gained as an apprentice are one of the many bonuses of what I do. It’s meant I’ve been able to build my own house. It’s also a job where I’m never sitting still so it keeps me active. And the flexibility of not having to work 9 to 5 is a major bonus for my work-life balance.”
“I suppose, as well as my own home, I’m most proud of some of the other houses I’ve built. You drive past them in the street and say, “yeah, I did that.” I see myself staying on the tools for a while yet. But the great thing about the industry is it has various avenues where you can even use your experience in an office-based role. Once you have a trade, the possibilities are endless. There’s plenty of work on a good wage. Even as a school leaver you’re earning money as you learn. You can then leapfrog around in many different areas. Everything from client liaison to people management and processes on the job. The freedom is there to do it. It sets you up well for the rest of your life with skills you can use forever.”