Carpenter Job Description

Carpenters work in the construction industry, where they build and repair building frameworks and other structures made from wood. Depending on the project they’re working on, they may may install kitchen cabinets, drywall, stairways, doorframes, windows, or many other types of installations.

If you want to work in construction but don’t want to spend the rest of your life doing the same tasks over and over again, then a career as a carpenter might be a good fit for you. Carpenters are very versatile, and get to work on many different types of projects.

To become a good carpenter, you will need to master the use of power tools like as nail guns, circular saws, and sanders, as well as hand tools like levels, chisels, and squares. Mastering these tools takes time and practice.

Carpenters need to be able to read blueprints provided by an architect or other designer, and build their installations with great precision. Every component that makes up a project needs to be installed with great accuracy, so a strong attention to detail is required.

Work Environment and Schedule

Carpenters work on many different types of construction projects, so their working environment depends on the type of project that they’re working on. For instance, carpenters who specialize in installing kitchen cabinets may spend most of their time working inside, while those who build the frameworks of homes are often required to work outside.

Most carpenters work full time. Because construction projects are normally deadline driven and operate on tight deadlines, working on nights and weekends may be required to get the work done on time.

More than one third of carpenters are self-employed, and they may be able to enjoy a little more flexibility in their schedules than those who work for a contractor or construction company. However, since most carpenters rely on client work, they have to adapt their schedules to meet the requirements of their clients.

Because they work with saws, drills, hammers, and other tools, carpenters are at risk for being injured on the job. There is no way to prevent injuries entirely, but taking proper safety measures can go a long way towards reducing the risks of the job.

How to Become a Carpenter

Many carpenters learn their trade on the job, but most learn through apprenticeships. Apprenticeships for carpenters last between three and four years, and teach building code requirements, math, blueprint reading, and the basics of carpentry.

During each year of their apprenticeship, apprentices have to spend 2,000 hours in on the job training, and 144 hours of technical training. Apprentices are paid for their time, though they normally earn a discounted rate. Essentially, they provide an experienced carpenter with cheap labor in return for learning their trade.

To get an apprenticeship, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma. To learn about apprenticeship opportunities near you, check with the Department of Labor in your state.

If you’d rather learn to be a carpenter but can’t find an apprenticeship, you should take a look at nearby technical schools. Many offer two year training programs.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 1,001,700 carpenters in the United States, with 40,830 new carpenter job openings created each year.

Carpenter jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Carpenter Salaries

Overall Salaries

Carpenter salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most carpenters make between $31,200 – $54,600 per year, or $15.01 – $26.23 per hour.

Updated: 09/02/2017

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