How to Become a Carpenter

Carpenters work on a variety of construction projects in multiple industries. Carpenters construct, erect, install, or repair structures or fixtures made of wood, tile, marble, stone, and various other materials. Carpenters work in a wide range of industries doing tasks like installing kitchen cabinets to more complicated tasks like building homes and highways.

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Carpenters must be hardworking, physically able to perform work related, often strenuous duties, and possess manual dexterity. Carpenters must be also business oriented in order to perform business operating tasks like ordering, billing, bookkeeping, and other clerical duties.

High school students may prepare for a career as a carpenter by studying courses like: English, algebra, geometry, business mathematics, physics, technology, and physical education. High schools often offer vocational training with courses like mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, and general shop to give students additional training to work as carpenters. Students may gain summer employment with contractors, construction companies, or road work crews to gain hands on work experience to qualify for more formal training programs.

Carpenters may learn through a variety of forums, including on the job apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, technical colleges, and online or traditional colleges. Students who enter formal apprenticeship programs spend three to four years learning career skills mastering tasks while expanding knowledge. Students begin an apprenticeship by working closely with more experienced carpenters, learning with basic tasks and advancing to more complex tasks as each skill is mastered. Some apprenticeship programs combine work experiences like the proper use of tools, layout, form building, rough framing, and finishing work, with classroom instruction through vocational schools. Classroom instruction consists of safety training, first aid training, blueprint reading, freehand sketching, basic mathematics, interpersonal relations and professional development, and carpentry techniques. Most apprenticeship programs are offered through commercial or industrial building contractors as well as construction unions. Apprenticeship programs are difficult to enter with limited available vacancies . Completion of an apprenticeship program allows individuals to qualify for employment as journeymen.

Many public and private vocational, trade, or technical schools accredited by various unions or contractors offer training within a career diploma training program. Students within a career diploma training program participate in courses like: technical mathematics, interpersonal relations and professional development, mechanical drawing, surveying, blueprint reading, and general shop. Students learn the basics of woodworking and the safe use of tools. Students learn to follow construction specifications as determined by supervisors or blueprints, while adhering to local building codes. Students work with a variety of materials to complete carpentry tasks like framing, installing windows or doors, building stairs, installing cabinets, and finish work like molding. A certificate program allows future carpenters to gain hands on skills to advance to higher training programs or employment.

A two year degree program allows carpenters to expand educational and training skills. Carpenters who earn a degree also earn an added versatility to find work opportunities in commercial or remodeling construction. Students who attain an associates degree study courses like: safety, introduction to microcomputers, interpersonal relations and professional development, cabinet making, stair design, roofing, residential remodeling, residential framing, materials estimation, basic carpentry math, materials selection, job estimating, blueprint reading, foundations, finish carpentry techniques, and building codes and standards. Most 2 year programs require students to participate in a 4 hour internship program focused upon residential or commercial instruction. An internship program allows students to gain hands on work experience combined with the opportunity to demonstrate proficiencies in class room training. Students who complete an associates degree in carpentry often gain employment as journeymen or advance to higher degree programs.

A bachelor degree in carpentry prepares students to work closely with engineers, contractors, architects, and building designers to complete projects. A 4 year degree program allows students to take courses in technical mathematics, framing, construction materials and selection, job estimating, interpersonal relations and professional development, blueprint reading, foundations and roughing in, finish carpentry techniques, and applicable codes and standards. Students learn how to apply technical knowledge with hands on experiences to lay out, cut, fabricate, erect, install, and repair wooden structures and fixtures using a variety of hand and power tools. Students who complete a bachelor degree program are often required to complete an internship in commercial or residential carpentry to apply classroom learning with hands on experience to demonstrate skill and mastery in the field of carpentry.

A masters degree program allows carpentry students to learn specialize training in the field of construction. Students in a graduate program may participate in training like home renovation, remodeling, antique restoration, after mastering courses like technical mathematics, framing, interpersonal relations and professional development,
construction materials and selection, job estimating, blueprint reading, foundations and roughing in, finish carpentry techniques, and applicable codes and standards. Students generally must complete a masters thesis and internship in residential or commercial carpentry before graduating as expert carpenters. Students within an internship program are given the opportunity to demonstrate skills learned through classroom instruction in a hands on setting.

Graduates of apprenticeship, vocational, or college level training programs may receive certifications offered in highly specialized areas of carpentry including: scaffold building, high torque bolting, or pump work upon earning the title of journeymen. The Associated General Contractors, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and the National Association of Home Builders offer information regarding certification and licensing requirements as determined by employment organization and state regulations.

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