How Do I Become an Apprentice Carpenter?

Research what it takes to become an apprentice carpenter. Learn about the types of training available, who offers apprenticeships and the level of competition for apprenticeship positions to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Carpentry degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Apprentice Carpenter?

An apprentice carpenter is someone who is training to be a fully qualified carpenter. They learn the trade by working alongside carpenters who are fully trained and have extensive experience as a carpenter. Some of the tasks they perform include reading blueprints, measuring and cutting wood, building framework, building items from wood, inspecting damaged structures and conducting repairs. Carpenters make things like tables, chairs, and cabinets. They also contribute extensively to the construction of new buildings. As of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that one third of carpenters were self-employed, and 20% of carpenters worked in residential building construction.

Training Required High school diploma or GED required to enter apprenticeships
Key Skills Measuring, sawing, leveling, nailing, tool use
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all carpenters*
Average Salary (May 2015) $46,780 for all carpenters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Educational Courses Must I Study to Become an Apprentice Carpenter?

While still at the high school level, you can prepare yourself for a career in carpentry. Focus on courses such as mechanical drawing, geometry, blueprint reading, physics and algebra. Shop and English classes will also be beneficial. In addition to the proper educational training, prior military service or a solid work background can help you secure employment as a carpenter.

How Do I Locate an Apprenticeship Program?

Serving as an apprentice is one of multiple avenues to becoming a skilled carpenter, but an apprenticeship is considered the best way to learn the trade. Your opportunities to participate in apprenticeships may be limited, depending on where you live. You might look for employers, industrial and commercial building contractors and labor unions that offer these training programs. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America offers formal apprenticeship programs throughout North America.

Applicants for apprenticeship programs must be at least 18 years of age and have either a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential. Entrance requirements vary, but you may need to pass a qualifying test before being admitted to some apprenticeship programs. The average apprenticeship takes four years to complete. New regulations allow some apprenticeships to be completed in a shorter amount of time if an apprentice carpenter has mastered his or her skills.

As an apprentice carpenter, you may receive compensation while enrolled in training programs, and your rate of pay is usually half that awarded to experienced carpenters, known as journeymen. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, experienced carpenters who worked in residential building construction earned average annual salaries of approximately $43,530 in 2015 (

What Skills Will I Learn?

Apprentice carpentry programs will help you develop the necessary skills for a career in carpentry. Your apprenticeship training will teach the fundamentals of carpentry, such as sawing, nailing, leveling and measuring techniques. Classroom instruction will focus on mathematics, sketching, and first aid and safety training. You'll get hand-on experience as you learn structural design, inside and outside finishing techniques and rough framing. After completing your apprenticeship, you'll know how to install siding, cabinetry and insulation, and how to properly handle the tools and equipment of your trade.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Construction laborers and helpers perform some tasks that are similar to the work of carpenters. They work on construction sites and may assist with installing drywall or performing other construction tasks. Drywall and ceiling tile installers, flooring installers, and tile and marble setters also work on construction sites. The work that construction laborers and helpers, drywall and ceiling tile installers, flooring installers, and tile and marble setters do is similar to the work of a carpenter because they must be able to follow blueprints, must measure items and cut them to fit the spaces, and must be able to efficiently install the items they work with in a construction setting. Like carpenters, they also typically learn through on-the-job training.

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