Annie's story

Annie works as a carpentry apprentice for Chandolin Construction. She started her career in the construction industry by studying for a Certificate III in Carpentry. We asked Annie about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Annie on site in a hard hat carrying a ladder.

About Annie

I'm studying Certificate III in Carpentry at TAFE NSW and learning on the job as part of my apprenticeship.

I've also completed equine industry studies, including a diploma and a horse-riding instructor course.

After finishing my apprenticeship, I plan to get my builder’s licence. For that, I’ll need to study a Certificate IV building course specified by NSW Fair Trading.

Because I'm doing advanced-level work on the job and gaining skills and experience quickly, I can complete my apprenticeship early in 3 years not 4.

To learn more about training and education opportunities, visit TAFE NSW.

I grew up on a farm, and my dad taught me how to build a lot of things out there. I’ve never stopped. It’s a passion I have had for a long time.

My 2 passions are horses and building. After school, I went to TAFE NSW and an agricultural college to pursue qualifications, and I ran an equestrian centre where I taught people how to ride.

My husband and I build houses together. We’ve built three so far, fitted out our stables, built fences, and all kinds of things. He’s not in the trade but is incredibly handy. I’ve always enjoyed being able to create something. It has never felt like work.

There’s nothing like the satisfaction I get from saying, “I created that and did it well.”

Just when I thought I was getting too old, I met my current employers who said “Why don't you just do it?”

They gave me an opportunity and here I am! I could not be happier.

I’m thrilled to qualify soon as a carpenter through an apprenticeship pathway.

I thoroughly enjoy building rock walls, being out in nature.

I’ve done a lot of construction work and built many things over many years.

I love building things and being outdoors is where I’m happiest. I don't like being confined to an office. Becoming a qualified carpenter is something I've always wanted to do. There is nothing better than sitting back and admiring what I have built.

In the residential construction sector, there is always something different going on. We do many jobs, including new builds, renovations, roofing, pergolas, and concreting. All sorts of fun and exciting projects!

I get wonderful support and encouragement from my husband and my mum. They are always there for me.

My employers provide me with exceptional guidance and mentoring – they're my mentors and champions.

One has given me the confidence to go forward in the industry. She’s been a driving force in making our team a 50/50 female-male workforce. Because of this, we're a well-rounded team that gets better work outcomes.

My other mentor is a qualified builder and guides and challenges me on every project, especially the new ones, to do my best but in such a supportive way that it’s an enjoyable daily challenge.

"If there's something you’re keen to do, don't think it's ever too late to get started. I'm nearly 40, and I'm on my way to great success.

"I've found people in the construction industry very welcoming and supportive. So don’t think you’ll get belittled by anyone in the industry. Be strong and don’t let anything get in the way of your success."

Tell us about your current job?

We start very early in the morning. It’s busy, and we work as a team, even when doing individual tasks. We have a very supportive atmosphere where safety is everyone’s priority.

Today we built a new roof on an old house. Tomorrow, we’ll be somewhere else doing something very different. The industry is so diverse, which keeps it interesting.

What does your work week look like?

We get to the office around 6am for our daily briefing on safety and the work we’ll be doing. Then, we’re on-site and ready to work at 7am.

Today, we’re doing a complete house renovation in Orange. The next day we'll be back in Bathurst, knocking down old brick walls for another renovation and putting a new roof on a heritage house. Then the following day, there’s concreting to do. Boredom doesn’t exist in construction, there are always new and exciting things to achieve.

We document all our activities – where we’ve been and what we’ve done. Something different is always going on to keep us on our toes.

What's the most challenging part of your job?

There are so many different elements to construction, and reasons why we build what we do. You need to think ahead to make sure what we are doing will be right for other trades to follow us and complete their work. 

Trying new things and learning from my mistakes makes me better each day.

I also do a lot of heavy overhead lifting on-site. Physically I’m pretty strong overall. But I’ve had to build up my arm strength to lift heavy items, like beams, lifting these high over my head when building a roof.

To stay strong, I do extra exercises at home.

The most interesting thing so far?

We built a very intricate hardwood pergola on-site for a client from start to finish. Often, with so many prefabricated products around these days, it’s only the assembly we do on-site.

What personal skills and attributes do you need for carpentry?

As carpenters, we need to be physically fit and capable because carpentry requires a lot of lifting.

We are detail-oriented, perfectionist types, happy to double-check everything we do.

We’re communicators who enjoy teamwork and working with our clients. We don't just do the job and leave. We follow up and make sure our clients are happy with the work we’ve done.

We are safety conscious, manage our time well and are efficient in our work.

Favourite carpentry tools?

My old-style hammer and speed square are my favourite carpentry tools. I couldn’t be without them!


Annie in a hard hat using powder a actuated tool.

3 top tips for getting started in construction

  1. When you're pulling together a job application, remember to be completely honest and confident about what you include.
  2. In your first days on the job, try to learn as much as you can by listening, watching and doing as much as possible.
  3. To make a positive impression on people in the construction industry, never stand still. Be proactive, helpful and ready to work. 

Why join the construction industry?

There’s no better place to be than the residential construction industry if you like to create! We construct new houses, renovate older homes and build additions. From carpentry to tiling, gyprocking and painting. The options are endless.

So, if you want to be on the move, value safe and skilled work, enjoy getting things done, and like teamwork, my industry could be the one for you!

Getting into the construction industry

Explore the construction industry and all it has to offer. Read all you can, go to forums, and speak with people in different sectors.

If you’re interested in the construction trades, one of the first things to do is contact TAFE NSW to find out about the nearby courses. Another thing to do early on is to find people who can be your guides and offer support as you navigate your way into the trade of your choice.

Being a woman in construction

I struck it lucky taking up my apprenticeship with Chandolin Construction because there’s a 50/50 male and female balance, which compares favourably to the industry standard where women are in the minority.

Sometimes we get funny looks from people who aren’t used to seeing women in construction, but then we also get smiles from people who admire us too.

Help for making career decisions

It may take a few tries, but find something you love doing. When you do, completing the training and learning on the job will help you get to where you want to go faster than other routes. It helps when an employer offers you an apprenticeship. Earn while you learn.

3 things that make an employer of choice

Support, encouragement, and the opportunity for professional development.

What’s next careerwise? And, in the longer term?

I'd love to get my builder’s licence and start my own business.

I have a passion for renovation and making old things look new again, so buying and rejuvenating houses will be another avenue to build my wealth.

In the longer term, I could host a Grand Designs show featuring renovated buildings across Australia and include interior design, too. 

Kaitlyn's story

Kaitlyn works as a carpentry apprentice on the Western Sydney International Airport project. She started her career in the construction industry by studying for a Certificate II in Construction as a high school student. We asked Kaitlyn about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Alisha's story

Alisha works as an apprentice plumber on the Fort Street Public School upgrade. She was a chef for over a decade before switching to a career in construction. We asked Alisha questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Teresa's story

Teresa works as a project director at Transport for NSW. She started her career in the construction industry as an undergraduate engineer. We asked Teresa questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.


Choosing a career in construction opens you up to a world of opportunity.

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