Carpenters enjoy working on a variety of projects. Following blueprints or other specifications, a carpenter builds, assembles, installs and repairs fixtures and structures that are usually made of wood. A carpenter may also work with other materials such as plastic, fiberglass or drywall. (Source)
Why should you consider a career in Carpentry?
Job prospects for carpenters, especially those with the most training and skills, is expected to be good for the next several years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in this field will increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2022.
Over a third of carpenters are self-employed while carpentry positions are usually full time, and overtime is often required to meet deadlines. An experienced carpenter can become a carpentry supervisor, a general construction supervisor or a project manager. Carpenters who are bi-lingual in English and Spanish have a better chance of becoming supervisors than those who are not since many construction workers speak Spanish. (Source)
Your Career in Carpentry Starts HERE.
|Average Carpenter Salary|
|Carpenter Helper||$15 – $20||Median Income $37,222|
|Construction Carpenter||$20 – $30||Median Income $39,682|
|Construction Manager||$30 – $45+||Median Income $77,194|
Set Your Foundation for Education
Earning your high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, is your first step on the path to becoming a professional carpenter. Having a basic knowledge of reading, writing, science and math are critical to pursuing any career in the pro trade industry. For carpenters, having an advanced knowledge of math and science are absolutely necessary since the work often involves making accurate measurements and working with angles. Areas of your high school or equivalent education that will benefit you as a carpenter include:
- Metric units of measure
Pro tip: Keep your record clean.
In addition to earning your high school diploma or GED, other factors that can impact your carpentry career are your driving record, your criminal background, and your ability to pass a drug test. Training programs and future employers might be deterred from working with you for safety and insurance reasons if you have:
- DUIs or DWIs
- Reckless driving convictions
- An extensive number of moving violations
- Certain misdemeanor offenses
- Felony convictions of any kind
- Failed a drug test
If you have a valid driver’s license, are drug-free and have a clean driving record and criminal background, then it will likely be easier for you to pursue a carpentry career.
Enroll in technical courses
Once you have earned your high school diploma or equivalent, the next step is to enroll in technical carpentry courses. Many states require a certain number of hours in the classroom in order to become a carpenter. Technical courses are offered by a variety of public and private schools and programs. Check out local community colleges, trade institutions, unions, or professional trade associations for information about carpentry programs in your area. The curriculum will depend on your city or state’s requirements, but topics could include:
- OSHA Safety and Accident Prevention
- Construction Methods and Materials
- Basic Framing
- Exterior Framing and Trim
- Interior Hardware and Trim
Find an apprenticeship
Depending on where you live, you will likely be required to work alongside an experienced carpenter as an apprentice for a certain number of hours. The length of the apprenticeship will vary but could take as long as two to five years. You might be able to complete your apprenticeship while you are enrolled in technical courses. In order to find a carpenter apprenticeship, you can start by checking with the trade school or organization through which you are receiving technical training. If they do not offer an apprenticeship program, they will likely have information about where to find one.
Pro tip: You can also check with local contractor businesses to see if they are hiring apprentices. Not only will you receive valuable on-the-job training from a seasoned pro, but they might offer to pay you for the hours you work. This gives you the opportunity to earn while you learn.
Take the test
Certain areas will require you to pass a written exam, a practical test or both in order for you to earn your carpenter certificate. If testing is required in your area, you will likely have to take it once you have completed your technical courses and your apprenticeship program. In general, you can expect the exam to be cumulative of what you learned on the job and in the classroom. Based on your state and local requirements, you might then be considered a certified carpenter once you pass the test.