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How to Become A Carpenter

Carpenters are craftsmen who work with wood and create various objects which may include building furniture, putting in wooden floors, cutting, shaping or framing wood for other construction projects etc.

Should I Become a Carpenter?

In addition to wood, carpenters work with other materials to complete various construction jobs. This line of work requires proficiency in reading blueprints, project layouts, cutting and assembling wood as well as other materials. Carpenters are also responsible to ensure that their work is accurate and done in accordance with the building standards. They are often supposed to work overtime, do heavy lifting, climb ladders, stand for long periods of time and work in all sorts of weathers which makes it a challenging career.

Education Required

A high school diploma or GED is required but an associate's degree is preferred

Major Requirement





3-4 year apprenticeship

Key Skills

Dexterity, Attention to detail, Mathematical precision, Problem-solving, Physical strength, Basic computer skills and experience using a variety of hand and power tools

Annual Mean Salary


Job Outlook

8% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Carpenters earned an annual mean salary of $51,120 in 2018 which roughly amounts to $24.58 per hour. This career is expected to see an employment growth of 8% between 2018 and 2028. Furthermore, the data reported by BLS in 2018, states that Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing was the highest paying industry for this occupation with an annual mean salary of $82,470.

Career Requirements

Carpenters create and repair wooden structures and frames for various construction jobs that may be residential or commercial. The skill-set required to become a carpenter may be gained by vocational or technical programs offered at the local community, vocational or technical colleges.

These programs often train students through a curriculum that is a combination of on-campus study and on-site hands on experience. Education and training for a carpentry career can be completed through a formal education or apprenticeships. Hands-on practical application is very important for this type of work and carpenters typically spend years working under a master carpenter before gaining a journeyman status.

Steps to Becoming a Carpenter 

If you are interested in building your career as a Carpenter in the U.S. then, you need to complete the following requirements.

1.     Education

There are numerous community or technical colleges and vocational institutions that offer certificates and associate's degree programs in carpentry. The typical classroom curriculum includes preparing students regarding building codes and layout, reading construction drawings and blueprints, ensuring safety, applying mathematical skills and English communication etc. Whereas, the hands-on experience or training includes teaching students techniques of framing, finishing and how to use measuring tools, hand tools, power tools etc. to work with lumber and other building materials.

2.      Field Experience  

It is very important for carpentry students to gain field experience. They can begin by becoming an apprentice or assistant to a master carpenter. A formal apprenticeship or assistantship may take up to 4 years of training. 

3.      Certification 

Although a certification is not required for this job, carpenters must have a valid driver’s license. Obtaining a journeyman certification can improve your job prospects as well. To acquire a journeyman certification, you may complete a formal apprenticeship program offered by trade unions or large general contractor firms. You can also get specialized certifications in fields like pump work or scaffold building from certain organizations. Carpenters with these certifications may get better job offers.

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