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Builders Merchant

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Builders' Merchant

The Work

Builders’ merchants (or DIY store workers) sell building and do-it-yourself products to the building trade and the general public. Products include timber, bricks, decorating materials, plumbing supplies, tools and gardening equipment.

As a builder's merchant, you would:

  • give out product information to customers
  • load and unload deliveries by hand or with a forklift truck
  • process orders and handle payments
  • move goods to storage areas
  • put orders together and organise deliveries
  • advise customers about which materials to use for a particular job.

With experience, you may work as a team leader or yard manager, with responsibility for staff training, planning, purchasing, stock control, and health and safety.

Hours and Environment

Large DIY outlets are open seven days a week and stay open for extended hours. You may have to work shifts, and part-time hours are often available. In smaller stores your hours may be more regular.

You would divide your time between the store and the yard. Most of your time would be spent on your feet and the job could involve some lifting and carrying of heavy materials. Your employer would usually provide you with a uniform and safety footwear.

Skills and Interests

  • knowledge of building products
  • excellent customer care skills
  • maths skills for taking measurements and handling cash
  • good spoken and written communication skills
  • good timekeeping
  • a reliable and honest approach to work
  • a reasonable level of fitness
  • a friendly and helpful personality
  • an awareness of health and safety issues.


You do not need any formal qualifications to work as a builder's merchant, but you will need a good standard of maths and English, and some employers may ask for GCSEs (A-C) in English and maths.

You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme with a DIY store or building suppliers. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) website also has information on apprenticeships.

Experience in the construction industry, warehousing or retail may give you an advantage when looking for work. It would also be useful if you have a forklift truck and/or LGV licence. See the profile for Forklift Truck Operator to find out more about forklift training.


You would normally receive training from your employer when you start work. Your employer may encourage you to take one of the following NVQs that are supported by the BMF, including:

  • Warehousing and Storage
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Business Administration.

The BMF also offers short courses in management, operations, product knowledge, sales and forklift operation. For more details, contact the BMF.


Vacancies are advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus, recruitment agencies and company websites.

The larger merchants or DIY chains may provide training to help you to progress to supervisory and management positions.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in a new window):

Builders Merchants Journal
Builders Merchants Federation
The Doorway (careers in wood and timber sales)
Directgov (Jobseekers page)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Yard staff can earn between £12,500 and £16,000 a year.
  • Counter sales staff can earn around of £18,000 a year.

Some employers pay overtime rates for working shifts and weekends, or reward staff with bonus payments based on sales.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.
To submit your CV directly to The Rich Works please complete the form below.


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