What does a Carpenter do?

Median Pay $45,170
Growth Rate 8%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A carpenter constructs and repairs building structures and frameworks. Carpenters also install cabinetry for kitchens bathrooms as well as install drywall and siding. They may also do custom work for clients or businesses. They can be found working in a variety of types of construction, from building bridges and highways to construction of a house or other buildings.

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How to become a Carpenter

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Carpenters require a high school diploma or the equivalent. If you have not graduated high school yet, take classes in mechanical drawing if offered. Studying to be good at math is also helpful. Some carpenters attend carpentry training programs at technical schools or community colleges to learn the skills required in this occupation and complete an apprenticeship program that usually lasts 3-4 years.

During the apprenticeship students receive technical training in the basics of carpentry like safety and first-aid practices and building code requirements. They also get specialized training in various areas such as scaffold building or rigging.

All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety course. Some unions and contractor associations sponsor apprenticeship programs with the basic qualifications being you must be at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or the equivalent, be physically fit for the job, be a U.S. Citizen or proof of legal residency, and pass a substance abuse screening. Veterans may receive preferred entry.

Job Description of a Carpenter

Carpenters duties vary depending on the job but typically they have the tasks of reading and following blueprints and building plans for the job. They may install windows and molding by measuring, cutting, and shaping materials such as wood or plastic. He or she constructs building frameworks like floors, door frames, and walls.

A carpenter must level, erect, and install building frameworks by using cranes and rigging hardware. They inspect damaged frameworks or other structures and replace them if necessary. They use various tools such as measuring tapes, hammers, and power tools that are critical to competing a job properly. He or she may oversee and direct construction helpers or those that are learning the trade. Carpenters must ensure that their final work is completed according to specifications.

Carpenter Career Video Transcript

From sanding a board perfectly smooth to transforming two by fours into a finished structure, carpentry fills the bill for those who want a hands-on career. Carpenters construct and repair wooden building frameworks and structures such as stairways, door frames, and windows. They use hand and power tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They use a tape measure on nearly every project and need math skills to calculate the proper size for pieces they cut. They also train and direct construction and carpenters helpers.

Carpenters helpers work under carpenters’ direction. Typically, they gather and carry materials, clean work areas and equipment, measure and cut materials, and position equipment. Carpenters and helpers work both indoors and outdoors. Worksites vary from tall buildings and bridges to homes and industrial sites. The work is sometimes strenuous and involves physical risk, requiring protective equipment and safety practices.

Most carpenters learn their trade through a 3 or 4-year apprenticeship program that combines technical training with paid on-the-job training. Apprentices must have a high school diploma or equivalent, have the physical ability to do the work, and meet additional criteria. Carpenter helpers usually learn on the job and have no specific education requirement.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Carpenters.

National Center for O*NET Development. 47-2031.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.