How to Become a Framing Carpenter in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a framing carpenter. Learn about the education, training and work experience you'll need, along with job outlook and salary information, to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Carpentry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Framing Carpenter Do?

Framing carpenters are carpenters that focus on the foundational structure of buildings. They may work on residences, business buildings or factories. As part of their job they may work with blueprints and other technical materials to ensure that they are following the design specifications and that their work meets the standard requirements for the type of building they are working on. Since they focus on the foundational structure their work is critical for the overall success of the building, because they need to ensure that the foundation is strong enough to support the structure, that the measurements are correct, and that the position of the structure is accurate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2014, 1 in 3 carpenter were self-employed, and 32% of carpenters work in residential and nonresidential building construction.

Education Required High school diploma or GED
Training Required Apprenticeship or training program
Key Responsibilities Work with construction material, utilize work tools, erect skeletal and support structures of buildings
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all carpenters*
Median Salary (2015) $42,090 for all carpenters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Framing Carpenter?

As a framing carpenter, you would primarily specialize in erecting the skeletal, supportive constructs of homes and other buildings. These constructs would be made of materials such as wood and steel, and they would serve as the initial framework for the completed structure.

Step 1: Graduate from High School

While some training mediums may not require a high school diploma or GED certificate as a prerequisite, many training programs do -- including those provided through vocational/trade schools and community colleges. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that some high school coursework, such as geometry and algebra, can help prepare you for a career as a carpenter.

Step 2: Get Trained

You can gain experience through an apprenticeship program, which typically walks you through increasingly challenging tasks performed under the instruction and supervision of senior carpenters. You might also attend some classroom sessions. The duration for this training option varies, but commonly occurs over the course of 3-4 years.

Another option is to participate in a formal training program through vocational/trade schools or community colleges. You undertake classroom instruction and field experience on subjects such as hand and power tools, footings and foundations, ceiling and roof framing covering, floor and wall framing, site layout, blueprint reading and green construction. These programs commonly result in a certificate or associate's degree in carpentry. While bachelor's and master's degree programs in carpentry are available, they are not required for entry-level positions.

Step 3: Acquire Professional Work Experience

As a framing carpenter, you could work as an independent contractor or employee of a larger carpentry business. You might work for residential or commercial construction companies. You could also take on jobs through non-construction businesses that require temporary or project-based carpentry services. The BLS projected that employment for all carpenters would increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Join a Trade Organization

Trade associations, guilds and unions provide professional networking opportunities and news updates. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters are just a few of the trade organizations you can join.

Step 5: Stay Current

Staying current on industry techniques, technologies and protocols is crucial to your daily work responsibilities. Some employers provide industry updates and continuing education; however, these options are also available through trade organizations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Construction laborers and helpers assist with work on construction sites, and as a result must be familiar with construction procedures and workplace safety. Like framing carpenters, they learn through on-the-job training. Flooring installers, tile and marble setters, and drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers do not need any formal postsecondary training. They may also work on construction sites or perform renovations to an existing structure by installing drywall, tile, marble or other flooring. Their job involves an understanding of basic construction. Other vocations that are similar to framing carpenters include carpenters and woodworkers. Woodworkers make things like cabinets and furniture. Life framing carpenters and carpenters, they learn through on-the-job training.

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