How Do I Enter a Career in Carpentry? - Video
Why become a carpenter? Construction is among the largest industries in the nation. Even in times of economic distress, skilled carpentry professionals care still needed to build and make repairs to residential, commercial and industrial sites around the country. Learn more about the training options you can pursue to join the ranks of carpenters in your area.
Training to become a carpenter is unique from many other career paths. You have the opportunity to choose from a few different approaches to prepare for your career. The first and least formal path is simply learning on the job. This consists of obtaining an entry level position with a construction company typically specializing in residential, commercial or industrial carpentry. In these settings, you can expect to have limited responsibilities initially, while taking on more advanced tasks over time.
Most employers however will reserve positions for individuals with formal training in carpentry methods. One of these options is enrolling in a carpentry program offered through a trade school or community college. While these programs can provide you the skills, successfully obtaining employment will be largely up to you after graduation. An alternative is to seek out an apprenticeship program. These opportunities, generally offered through unions or larger construction firms, can set you up with employment within the field even as you work to complete formalized training programs.
Carpentry programs in both colleges and apprenticeship opportunities combine classroom learning with hands-on training. Within the classroom setting, you can expect to study conceptual aspects of carpentry that incorporate subjects including geometry, algebra, physics, blueprint reading and mechanical drafting. In schools, much of the hands-on preparation occurs within the confines of a shop on campus whereas the bulk of this training in apprenticeship programs may occur on the job. Regardless of the route you choose, you can expect to learn how to perform carpentry methods, including layout, form building, framing and finishing. Along the way you'll also learn how to use tools and operate machinery commonly found at construction sites. First aid, emergency procedures and other issues of safety are also covered in depth.
Carpentry programs in community colleges and technical schools generally result in an associate degree or a certificate stating you've completed a given program. If you elect to complete an apprenticeship program, you will be certified as a journeyperson. This distinction can be extremely helpful in finding work and may qualify you for positions that might otherwise be unavailable to you.