How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters just pound nails into wood right? Oh, no. No no no no…carpenters do so much more than that. Sure, they pound nails into wood to frame buildings, but they also install cabinets, or they create the shells that concrete gets poured into for road construction, they might even install insulation and drywall.

Years of Education

3-4 years as an apprentice. There are trade school or technical school programs that go for about 2 years, but you definitely want some hands-on, on the job training with an apprenticeship.

Degrees & Licenses

  • You’ll need to complete the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour safety courses and receive the certification.
  • Look into the program that The National Association of Home Builders offer as a pre-apprenticeship option. It is called the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT for short) and it is usually offered through the Home Builders Institute. Having a PACT is a good idea since it covers information for eight different construction trades, in particular carpentry.
  • An Associate’s Degree from an accredited trade or technical school in Carpentry (this could include Mill Work, Framing, Cabinetry, and many others) or Construction Management.

Job Availability

The projected growth for carpenter jobs is looking like it will grow upwards of 24 percent between now and 2024.

Income

Low:

25,000-26,000

Average:

40,000-45,000

High:

74,000-100,000

Perks

  • You get to hit things with hammers – instant stress relief!
  • No need to think of a Halloween costume since you will always be able to go as a sexy carpenter or as a member of the Village People.

Carpenter Sawing at a BoardThere are three main kinds of carpenters. The first is a residential carpenter. These people are the carpenters that we are know and think of – they work on new home or condo or apartment building construction, and they do remodeling. A commercial carpenter work on new or remodeling construction sites of office buildings, hospitals, schools – the type of buildings that provide services to people. They can either specialize in steel framing, concrete, or finishing work. The final kind of carpenter is the industrial carpenter. These people often work on civil engineering sites – road construction, tunnel reinforcement, power plants, mining. They mainly work on creating the forms necessary to pour concrete.

If any of these sounds like what you are interested in doing, keep reading to find out how to become a carpenter.

Get Your Training with an Apprenticeship

Carpentry ToolsThe most typical way to become a carpenter is to complete an apprentice program with a listened master carpenter or construction company. There is an application process and oftentimes companies only have a few openings they allow to be filled at one time. But don’t let that discourage you if you really want to pursue a carpentry career! These apprenticeships usually last about 3 or 4 years typically and they consist of both on the job and in the classroom training.

The qualify you must be 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and have a High School diploma or a GED. You will also be subjected to drug testing during your apprenticeship. These apprenticeships offer course work in subjects like carpentry skills (this training gets more advance the further along you get in your training), reading and working on blueprints, safety rules and regulations and laws, or the construction of scaffolding and concrete forms. For each year that an apprentice completes, the apprentice can look at completing around 144 hours of training in the classroom and upwards and over 2000 hours of training on work sites.

Get an Associate’s Degree

Even if you aren’t really required to go to a technical school or trade school for carpentry, it might be a good idea to help you get a foot on the competition and to gain training that might not be focused on during your apprenticeship.

Young lady carpenterThere are subject specific certifications (like cabinetry) as well as Associate’s Degrees available in carpentry. These programs often focus on topics like building codes, blueprints, building materials, site management, budgets…basically the things that a foreman or site manager focuses on.

If you decide to stop your apprenticeship and go to college, there are options to transfer the apprenticeships hours into credits to apply to your Associate’s Degree or certifications.

Be Prepared to be a Carpenter

Carpentry is hard labor – there are no two ways around that fact. You are on your feet for hours at a time, oftentimes you are in cramped spaces where you are forced to contort yourself into crazy shapes that look like advanced yoga moves, and you need to be able to life heavy loads or wood, shingles, cabinets, and those sort of things. Maybe think about getting into shape before you go further into carpentry – nothing like CrossFit or anything, just work on your stamina and weight bearing.

Further and Advance Your Carpentry Career

Since it is predicted that there will be something like a 24% increase in carpentry jobs for the next ten years, it is a good idea to think about how you can make yourself as a carpenter more hirable than your competition.

One good way is to think about becoming bi-lingual, particularly in Spanish if you are in areas where there is a large Hispanic population. By knowing two languages, you would be able to communicate more fully with the site team and language skill is something that construction companies look for in their managers and foremen.

Also think about specializing in infrastructure (structures and facilities like buildings, roads, and power supplies) or renovation. The more specialized you become, the more of a possibility you have of finding work when there are many other carpenters looking for work alongside you.

Women training to be carpentersBe sure to keep your licensing up to code too – that means you’ll need to complete your continuing credits courses. Having a valid license with you wherever you go and on whatever sire you find yourself on is a huge advantage since you will not need to re-submit the paperwork to get started working.

Now that you know kind of know what goes into becoming a carpenter, go get your hammer and get to constructing! (after your apprenticeship, of course.)

Books for Aspiring Carpenters

A Career as a Carpenter (Greg Roza). This is a neat book to start with if you are really thinking about becoming a carpenter. It covers all the major parts (the education you need, how to get an apprenticeship, etc.) and it gives it to you in a no fuss, to the point kind of way.

Carpenter (Susan Hindman). This eBook explains the aspects of carpentry and introduces you to the field you are thinking about pursuing.