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How to Become a Carpenter

Building something with your hands (assisted by some power tools) can be an extremely satisfying feeling. If you want to learn how to become a carpenter, then read on to learn why a carpentry career is a mixture of careful planning, hard work, and a little elbow grease. 

What Is a Carpenter?

A carpenter has usually gone to a trade school to master the craft of woodworking. They take this hands-on experience and apply it to building and repairing structures. 

What Does a Carpenter Do?

A carpenter uses various equipment to complete jobs. They can build ships, sheds, bridges, and more. It is a highly versatile field that requires a lot of care and detail. Whichever building you’re in right now, chances are a carpenter poured a lot of effort and time into building it.

Build Structures

Carpenters specialize in a wide variety of hands-on activities. Carpentry work focuses on building structures, objects, and more using wood and other materials. Carpenters build houses and maintain structural integrity.

Repair Work 

A carpenter's job isn't over once a building's construction phase finishes. Carpentry work is all about maintenance. This could include repairing bridges or structural damage, or general maintenance.

Essential Carpenter Skills

An Eye for Detail

Carpenters can’t afford to slack off or get any measurements wrong. They need to be on top of their game. Precise measurements can mean the difference between success and failure. An eye for detail is crucial to being a successful carpenter. 

Physical Strength 

As carpentry work involves a lot of heavy lifting, some solid strength goes a long way. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder, but you’ll need to be capable of moving heavy materials. As a carpenter, you’ll be carrying over a hundred pounds of various materials around a building site.  Add to this the operation of heavy machinery and robust physical tolerance is a must.

Strong Communication Skills

Carpenters working on larger projects rarely work alone. This means carpenters work as part of a team. This could range from a few others to an entire company of hard workers. Carpentry work is all about communication. Good communication allows for good working relationships, helping a project move smoothly. Any sort of miscommunication can result in carpentry work missing the mark.

Carpenter Salaries and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, carpenters earn an average of $48,330 per year, or $23.24 per hour. This is highly flexible, as carpenters work as general contractors and freelancers, giving them more opportunities to earn money.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't show significant projected growth in carpentry work, carpenters will always be in demand. Construction and repair of buildings are almost always happening everywhere in the United States. 

There is an average of about 90,000 carpentry jobs added each year, which will result in little to no change in job growth. The position is also not as high paying as nurses, pharmacists, or judges. However, the continuous building of houses, factories, skyscrapers, and more will ensure that carpentry work is an essential career path.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Carpenter?

It usually takes about three to four years to become a fully-fledged carpenter. Many carpenters and general contractors attend trade schools and take carpentry classes and shop classes. Trade schools offer a wide variety of different ways to find what type of carpentry work fits you best.

This time frame could be extended if applying for apprenticeships and training programs. These are extremely valuable and recommended options to impress future employers and get you hired.

How to Become a Carpenter: A Step by Step Guide

Let’s see how to become a carpenter in four easy steps.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Many companies want their carpenters to hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. You need to prove to employers that you have the relevant skills needed to work as a carpenter. Reading, writing, and general knowledge are all required for carpentry work.

Step 2: Attend Community College or a Trade School

Attending a trade school shifts the focus of your education to learning a valuable trade. Trade school offers ways to break into different career paths that many universities lack. You could become an electrician, IT specialist, or respiratory therapist

Community colleges and trade schools offer students various things like carpentry classes to help you master your future trade. They teach you specific skills and focus on one particular career path.

Step 3: Get a Carpentry Apprenticeship

Arguably the most crucial step in becoming a carpenter, apprenticeship programs offer you a glimpse into carpentry work. These require you to have a high school diploma or GED and give you on-the-job training.

Step 4: Start Work as a Carpenter

Once you ideally complete an apprenticeship program, it’s time to get out there and get hired. You can work for general contractors and even yourself. 

Earning a certification in a specific subfield of carpentry, like drywall installation and siding application, can give your employment chances a big boost.

Should You Become a Carpenter in 2020?

If you are having difficulty choosing a career path, working as a carpenter may prove to be a satisfying field.

If you’ve got a keen eye for detail, love to serve the local community, and use your hands to build something, a carpenter is a reliable and dependable employment option.


How long are carpentry apprenticeship programs?
It depends on whom you work with, but they can take one to four years to complete. These can be with general contractors or even government-sponsored.
What different certifications does carpentry work have?
Carpentry work isn’t just about cutting wood. There are many certifications in specific carpentry fields. Some of the most popular are: • Kitchen and bath remodeling • Design • Rigger and signaler • Building Technician
What are carpenter work hours?
Carpenters work around eight hours a day. However, it depends on whom you work for and what kind of project it is.
Should I attend a trade school to become a carpenter?
Yes. Going to a trade school or community college can give your valuable experience if you are looking at carpentry work as a career path. Trade schools offer hands-on experience and specialized focuses like shop classes to prepare you for the future.
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