28 Mar How to Become a Carpenter
If you’re on the hunt for a job and have a passion for construction and woodworking, carpentry might be your answer. These professionals deal with many steps of the construction process, from building and installing to repairing wood and other types of structures.
Below, learn all about the job duties associated with carpentry, the skills and education needed to become a carpenter and the daily life of a carpenter.
What Does a Carpenter Do?
A carpenter works with wood and other materials to assemble, erect and repair structures such as houses, porches, stairs and furniture. Typically, you’ll find carpenters working beside architects and construction workers on commercial or residential project sites.
A few examples of what carpenters do include:
- Building decks and fences or repairing wood rot
- Following blueprints and construction plans
- Cutting construction materials according to specifications
- Installing windows, trim and door frames
Depending on your experience and skill level, you might work for yourself or report to commercial employers as a carpenter.
What Skills Does a Carpenter Need?
The length of time it takes to become a carpenter depends on your current skillset and education level.
Consider the following hard and soft skills that a carpenter should have:
- Manual dexterity: A carpenter handles various tools and equipment — you’ll need to use them precisely and accurately on the project site.
- Mathematical proficiency: When calculating material amounts and sizing, carpenters use basic math.
- Physical strength and stamina: Sometimes, carpenters are required to work long hours carrying heavy tools and repositioning building materials.
- Problem-solving skills: As a carpenter, you’ll need to possess the skills to prevent potential problems and fix issues as they arise.
- Business skills: If you choose the self-employment path, you’ll need to possess knowledge of customer service and marketing.
Personality Traits and Interests
Depending on your personality traits and interests, you can determine whether a carpentry career is a good match for you.
For example, carpentry might be your fit if you’ve always enjoyed building and being outside. However, if you don’t have the patience for math or measuring, you’ll probably want to work elsewhere. Additionally, it’s important to remember that carpentry isn’t just about creating — it requires arduous labor and painstaking care to build and install structures.
Fortunately, the skillset required for carpentry invites room for growth and flexibility — you won’t need to have all of these skills figured out from the start. Most carpenters enter the field through education and apprenticeships that provide on-the-job experience so they know what to expect.
Education and Training
There are many education and job training opportunities to learn the trade and become a carpenter with no experience. Depending on your interest and the amount of time you plan to put into it, the typical steps to becoming a full-time, entry-level carpenter include:
- Obtain a high school diploma: Most carpentry positions require a high school diploma or GED for entry. Those still in high school should focus on math, carpentry and drafting courses to develop skills before graduation.
- Complete an apprenticeship: The beginning of an apprenticeship program provides basic education and carpentry techniques outside the classroom. After you complete the training, you’ll receive certification as a journeyman.
- Consider trade school and online courses: Though not required to become a carpenter, you might enroll in trade school or pursue an associate’s degree to give you a marketable advantage and a two-year carpentry certificate. Consider taking the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) program and pass Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) health and safety courses to advance your career.
The career path you choose depends on your personal preferences. Though trade school is a shorter time commitment and might provide a higher initial wage, you face financial obligations to pay for your schooling. A carpenter apprenticeship program requires a longer time commitment, but you’ll get paid to learn and emerge as a fully-qualified journeyman.
Day in the Life of a Carpenter: What to Expect
Typically, a day in the life of a carpenter involves working either in a shop or on-site to complete various construction-related tasks. These duties may include:
- Measuring, cutting and shaping wood and other materials such as drywall, fiberglass or plastic
- Using rulers, framing squares and other items to check for accuracy
- Installing fixtures like cabinets, windows or doors
- Reading and comprehending blueprints
- Building and repairing frameworks such as floors, walls, shelves, stairways and doors
- Defining the necessary project materials and coming up with an estimate for overall project costs
- Operating hand tools such as drills and power saws
Schedule and Salary
Most carpentry positions involve full-time work schedules to meet strict deadlines, sometimes accruing overtime on evenings and weekends. These work schedules will likely change depending on the project and the scope of the work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, carpenters make a median annual salary of just under $50,000. However, your current position, industry, skill level and location determine your salary, and as you become more skilled, you can expect to earn more.
There’s a high demand for carpenters today. In fact, carpentry is one of the most in-demand jobs of all trades. An estimated 89,000 carpentry job openings are expected to become available annually. Additionally, the demand for housing in recent years has made new construction more popular — and more carpentry jobs are available as a result.
As a journeyman carpenter, you’ll be able to accrue documented experience and reach master carpenter status. As a master carpenter, you’ll earn pay increases and more job security with each position you take on. Possible different positions include:
- Supervisor: As a master carpenter, you’re likely to find positions where you can supervise all activity on job sites.
- Project manager: As a project manager, you’ll plan, organize and direct all workers to complete projects, ensuring deadlines are met within budget and scope.
- General construction advisor: Similar to a project manager, a general construction advisor oversees the planning of construction sites to finish projects on time and within budget.
Aside from a solid median salary and ample job opportunities, you’ll notice many positive personal benefits of becoming a carpenter, including:
- Gaining hard skills: When you become a carpenter, you’ll take the skills you learn daily on the job and apply them to your personal life — especially when it comes to renovating your own home.
- Getting active: If you love to work with your hands and be outside, you’ll find carpentry to be a fantastic career path that helps you stay fit and enjoy nature.
- Satisfying your creativity: When you become a carpenter, you’ll learn to create and build things, which might fulfill your creative drive and transfer to your passions.
- Improving people’s lives: You’ll get to experience the satisfaction of completing carpentry projects for clients. Seeing how happy your clients are with your product will make all of that work worthwhile.
Ready to Start Your Carpentry Career?
At Neighborhood Painting, we work as a team to provide high-quality painting and carpentry services for our clients. We’re leaders in our industry because we understand valuing our employees to help us achieve our goals.
As a part of our team, you’ll learn all the necessary skills to advance your career in home renovation, whether you join as an apprentice or a skilled worker. Learn more about a carpentry career at KC Neighborhood Painting and apply to join the team today!