How To Become a Carpenter | Career Guide

Evelyn Long

Dec 6, 2022

become a carpenter for beginners

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A career in the trades can be lucrative and stable. The average salary for a carpenter is $57,632 ​​. It’s also an excellent job for people who enjoy manual labor. If you’re ready to start your career as a carpenter, follow these steps for how to become a carpenter. 

Responsibilities of Carpenter 

As a carpenter, you’ll build and repair wooden structures. You may also need to select or source materials depending on the project. Throughout the day, you will meet with clients and create design plans. 

Here are some other jobs you may have:

  • Installing roofing frames, rafters, or partitions
  • Designing and adding cabinets, shelving, or drywall
  • Placing fixtures like door handles and locks
  • Selecting lumber to suit clients budget and style
  • Reading blueprints

Steps for How To Become a Carpenter 

Carpenters play a role in building structures, such as houses and commercial properties. To enter into this career, follow these tips for how to become a carpenter. 

1. Earn Your High School Diploma or GED

The minimum education requirement for a carpenter is a high school diploma. While in high school, consider taking a woodshop class to start gaining experience. The skills learned in the course will come in handy for on-the-job training. 

Here are some other classes to look into:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry 
  • Physics
  • Mechanical drawing
  • Physical Education 

2.  Attend a Trade School 

Once you have earned your high school degree, consider moving on to a technical school. It will take around one to two years to complete the program. The schools provide you with a solid foundation for starting your career. You may learn skills, such as how to read blueprints or order materials. The teachers will also cover standard safety practices. 

When looking for a trade school, research the type of facilities and courses offered. Also, check out the program’s success rate. 

Here are some of the top schools to consider:

  • University of Southern California
  • Vanderbilt University 
  • Rice University 
  • University of Michigan
  • Rhode Island School of Design 

3. Find an Apprenticeship 

Apprenticeships are valuable tools when determining how to become a carpenter.  They‘re training programs combining onsite learning with classroom instruction. You will work under a skilled carpenter while earning wages. The average pay is around $18.70 an hour. The program will take approximately four years to complete. Learning marketable skills will help you advance in your career. 

When looking for a program, check out local unions, like the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. You can even use online resources or ask friends and family for recommendations. 

4. Complete a Safety Training Course 

Some companies require you to complete a 10-hour safety course. For some states, like Pennsylvania, it is required for all construction employees. The course covers topics such as health and power tool hazards. You can take the program online. 

Taking the course can prevent future accidents. It also ensures your following official safety guidelines when working on a project. 

5. Advance Your Career 

Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you’re certified as a journeyman. However, if you want to continue advancing in your career, earn more experience. With years in the trade, you can become a master tradesman or a project manager. These roles often include supervisory responsibilities. To call yourself a master carpenter, you should have at least 10-15 years in the business.  

Soft Skills Needed To Be A Carpenter 

Keep in mind it takes more than just education to be a skilled carpenter. Now that you know how to become a carpenter, here are some qualities you will want to possess. 

1. Business Skills

You want to understand how the construction business works. You’ll need this knowledge when bidding for new jobs or tracking inventory. Review typical terminology used in the field, such as adhesive.

Also, having strong communication and organizational skills is key when working with clients. Knowing how to negotiate is also essential when collecting materials.

2.  Attention to Detail 

When working on a project paying attention to small details is crucial. You need to take precise measurements when installing fixtures. If they are slightly off, it could lead to gaps in the structure, causing long-term issues. For example, an improperly fitted window could produce energy leaks. 

3. Manual Dexterity 

On the job, you will use several different types of tools. To prevent injury, it’s important to have good hand-eye coordination. For example, when using a hammer, you want to hit the nail precisely on its head. You can help build your dexterity through apprenticeships. During the program, you can practice using onsite equipment, such as saws.  

4. Math Skills

As a carpenter, you will use math skills daily. This is why it’s an essential trait when deciding how to become a carpenter. You’ll need them to calculate volume and measure material. Understanding math concepts is also helpful when reading blueprints and planning layouts. Then when you order the supplies, you need to know the figure dimensions. 

5. Physical Stamina 

Having physical endurance is crucial when working with heaving tools and materials. If you have stronger stamina, it also makes it easier to stand for long periods. Keep in mind completing a project could take multiple hours. When remodeling a kitchen installing all the cabinets could take around 25 to 35 hours of labor. 

Tips for Job Searching 

Once you have gained all the necessary skills, it’s time to start looking for employment. Networking is an excellent way to find a job. Start by seeing if your previous apprenticeship can lead to a career. Then create a Linkedin profile to network with other professionals in your community. If you attended a vocational school, they might have references for you. 

Along with networking, use online resources, like Indeed. There are even sites specifically for carpentry jobs, such as 

Types of Carpentry Jobs 

As you continue to progress in your career, you may consider specializing in a specific area. Here are some of the different types of carpenters. 

1. Rough Carpentry

Rough carpenters focus on planning, building, and maintaining structures. They typically don’t work with home additions, like cabinets. Their primary roles include constructing framing and roofing. To be a rough carpenter, you need to know structural integrity and cost-efficiency.

2.  Joister 

As a joister you work with floors by constructing joists or fixing surfaces. It’s also important to understand structural integrity. When working with surfaces,  joisters install finishes, so it’s often a more detailed process.

3. Trim Carpentry

Trim carpenters specialize in creating trims and molding for a room. They may even have preferences in the materials they use. For example, green carpenters use environmentally friendly practices. The way the carpenters use the material may also vary. Scenic carpenters create buildings used for television or plays. 

4.  Cabinet Carpentry 

These handymen work on building shelves for kitchens and bathrooms. They can also help make other furniture, such as patio furnishing. 

5. Framer

These carpenters build the structure for housing and other buildings. They are similar to rough carpenters but focus on one area. Another difference is they are usually hired for single projects or on a contract basis.

6. Roofer

A roofer focuses on planning, building, and maintaining key components of the roof. These parts include the rafters, trustees, and beams. Their job is to ensure the awning is durable and meets the client’s expectations.

7. Ship Carpentry

These workers specialize in shipbuilding. They help to ensure the ships meet client demands structurally and aesthetically. Some carpenters may construct replicas of previously built ships. Others may focus on building modern ships, such as cruise liners.  

How to Successfully Become a Carpenter 

To enter into the carpentry business, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree.  However, you will need to graduate high school and gain some experience. So, follow these tips for how to become a carpenter and start your career today. 

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