What is the difference between a carpenter and a construction worker?

Are the people who repair your house’s roof or walls construction workers? Or carpenters? Or both? If both can be used, which one is used more often?

In Cambridge dictionary, a carpenter is a person whose job is making or repairing wooden objects. As much as I have searched, carpenters seem to do other jobs related to construction too.

There is also a builder, but a builder seems rather to plan the construction, not to actually work on the construction site.

If there is any better way to express a person who works on the construction, please let me know.

3 Answers 3


A general term for a worker to describe both of these would be a handyman. Any construction worker would be happy and likely able to take on a small task of a carpenter. But a finish carpenter's job is to make the woodwork of the home look spectacular, no mistakes or bruises, a very specialized skill. A carpenter would generally only work with wood but either of these profession would be happy to take on any task given them, within the restrictions of Union Laws. There a carpenter may not be able to nail down a shingle if it is not made of wood.

The head construction worker would make the plan but everyone down to the man who fetches the nails could certainly be given the title of a construction worker. Which one is used more often depends on who is filling up your house. I would say most are construction workers up until the end when the wood needs to look its best.

  • +1, but I’m not sure I understand your first sentence. The word ‘handyman’ doesn’t really ever describe a carpenter or a construction worker; the connotation of ‘handyman’ is someone who fixes small problems you have in your house, not build your home or build your furniture. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 5:22
  • 'Handyman' was to answer your last question, another word. I went into detail on the differences between the other professions. You may be right in your area for the usage.
    – Elliot
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 5:32
  • -1 Sorry but a handyman is neither a carpenter per se nor a construction worker per se.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 17:10

In American English (there may be different terms used in other English speaking countries), a construction worker is a general term for anyone who works on a construction site. A carpenter is specifically someone who works with wood. The various construction specialties are known as "trades." The person in charge of a construction crew is called a foreman. The person in charge of the entire project is usually called the project manager. Other people who supervise the site or various parts of it might be called construction supervisors or managers.

In American English, a "handyman" is someone who is skilled in a variety of tasks (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, etc.) They often work independently doing various repair jobs for building owners or homeowners.


A carpenter is a person who works with wood. That can either be (for example) making furniture from wood, or making the doors, doorframes, skirting boards etc in a house, or putting together the studs, rafters and floorboards of a house. Some of these tasks are fine and detailed some are not, but the furniture-maker and the rafter-installer are both types of carpenter.

Many carpenters, especially the "put up the rafters" type, will also be skilled builders. They will be able to dig foundations, lay bricks, set concrete. A builder is anyone who is physically involved in building.

Construction worker tends to refer to builders who are working on large projects like skyscrapers. This tends to be a relatively low status job, involving assembling pieces that have been made.

The specific name of a builder who repairs roofs is a "roofer".

The (high status) person who designs a building is an architect.

We did hire an architect to design our dream home, because we wanted to make the best use of the space. The architect also recommended some builders. We didn't want a lot of construction workers with no real skills, so her advice was invaluable. There was Jake who did the carpentry, Jock the bricklayer and Jo who mostly did plastering but helped with the foundations and any other little jobs around the site. We didn't hire a roofer, because our roof was a standard tiled type. Jake and Jock did the roof together. But, of course, we did need an electrician and a plumber, who both were very costly. Our architect also suggested a project manager, who made sure that Jake, Jock, Jo and the others were used efficiently. Unfortuntely we didn't have enough money to hire a garden designer, so we asked Jo to level the garden and turf it. Perhaps next year we will work on the garden.

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