What Are the Training Requirements for a Carpenter Job?

Carpenters create structures and fixtures from wood and other materials. Training requirements for jobs can vary, and they usually consist of on-the-job experience, formal training through a vocational school or an apprenticeship. Read on to learn more about carpenter training options and requirements. Schools offering Carpentry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Training Options

Although there are no strict requirements for working as a carpenter in the United States, carpenters generally complete on-the-job training, formal technical training or a combination of both. There are a variety of avenues you can take to train for a career in carpentry, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), applicants with the most formal training tend to have the best job prospects (www.bls.gov). Taking mathematics, blueprint reading, physics and shop courses in high school can help prepare you for the trade.

Important Facts About Carpenters

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent
Key Skills Business acumen, detail oriented, manual dexterity, mathematical aptitude, physical endurance, bodily strength, problem solving
Work Environment Construction sites at a variety of locations
Similar Occupations Cement workers, terrazzo workers, construction laborers and helpers, tile and marble setters, drywall and ceiling tile installers, millwrights, industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance workers

On-The-Job

Beginners can learn by working with experienced carpenters, gaining most of their skills through on-the-job experience. You can accomplish this by finding work as a carpenter's helper and assisting with basic tasks on a job site. While you work as a helper, you can supplement your education by taking a formal training program.

Formal Training Programs

You can also learn carpentry skills in classroom settings and enroll in courses at trade and vocational schools. These programs are available as diploma programs, certificates and associate degrees and usually provide you with hands-on experience. Through such training programs, you can expect to study the following topics:

  • Tool usage and safety
  • Cabinet-making
  • Drywall installation
  • Remodeling
  • Roofing
  • Blueprint reading
  • Residential planning

In addition to college programs, many carpentry unions, such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, offer private classes, training sessions and apprenticeships (www.carpenters.org).

Apprenticeships

The BLS reports that doing a carpentry apprenticeship is the most common educational route for this career. These programs combine both classroom instruction and on-the-job experience. In order to qualify for an apprenticeship, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, pass a screening for substance abuse and be physically capable. Apprenticeships usually last 3-4 years, and in addition to learning the tools and skills of the trade, you'll learn how carpentry relates to other trades involved in the construction process. Apprenticeships can also offer specialized training in specific carpentry areas, such as interior systems carpentry and residential carpentry.

Job Description

As a carpenter, you are a skilled craftsman who creates consumer goods like furniture, staircases and housing structures. By working with your hands and using power tools, you are involved in many aspects of the home-building process, such as the installation of cabinets and window frames. You can work on industrial, residential or commercial projects. You won't only work with wood; you may also work with materials such as steel, plastic and fiberglass.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Very fast employment growth is expected for carpenters over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS. Population growth is a major factor for this estimated 6% growth, which is expected to create 64,000 new jobs over the period. Growth can vary by region, though, with more jobs available in areas with high population growth. For example, the BLS reported that California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania had the highest carpenter employment levels in May 2014.

The BLS reported in May 2014 that the average wage for carpenters was $45,590. Nonresidential building construction offered a higher average wage than residential building construction, at $49,750 and $42,770, respectively.

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