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Become An Apprentice Carpenter

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Working As An Apprentice Carpenter

  • Getting Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Make Decisions

  • $42,090

    Average Salary

What Does An Apprentice Carpenter Do

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and bridge supports—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

Duties

Carpenters typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients
  • Install structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding
  • Measure, cut, and shape wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Construct building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Erect, level, and install building framework with the aid of rigging hardware and cranes
  • Inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Instruct and direct laborers and other construction helpers

Carpenters are one of the most versatile construction occupations, with workers usually doing many different tasks. For example, some carpenters primarily insulate office buildings and others install drywall or kitchen cabinets in homes. Those who help construct tall buildings or bridges often install the wooden concrete forms for cement footings or pillars and are commonly referred to as rough carpenters. Other carpenters erect shoring and scaffolding for buildings.

Carpenters use many different hand and power tools to cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall. They commonly use hand tools, including squares, levels, and chisels, as well as many power tools, such as sanders, circular saws, nail guns, and welding machines. Carpenters fasten materials together with nails, screws, staples, and adhesives, and do a final check of their work to ensure that it is completed according to specifications. They use a tape measure on nearly every project to make sure that the pieces being cut are the proper size, which reduces waste and saves time. Many employers require applicants to supply their own tools.

The following are examples of types of carpenters:

Residential carpenters typically specialize in single-family, townhome, and condominium building and remodeling. As part of a single job, they might build and set forms for footings, walls, and slabs, and frame and finish exterior walls, roofs, and decks. They also frame interior walls, build stairs, and install drywall, crown molding, doors, and cabinets. In addition, residential carpenters may tile floors and lay wood floors and carpet. Fully trained carpenters can easily switch from new homebuilding to remodeling.

Commercial carpenters typically build and remodel commercial office buildings, hospitals, hotels, schools, and shopping malls. Some specialize in working with light-gauge and load-bearing steel framing for interior partitions, exterior framing, and curtain wall construction. Others specialize in working with concrete forming systems and finishing interior and exterior walls, partitions, and ceilings. Most commercial carpenters perform many of the same tasks as residential carpenters.

Industrial carpenters typically work on civil engineering projects and in industrial settings, where they build scaffolding and create and set forms for pouring concrete. Some industrial carpenters build tunnel bracing or partitions in underground passageways and mines to control the circulation of air to worksites. Others build concrete forms for tunnels, bridges, dams, power plants, or sewers.

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How To Become An Apprentice Carpenter

Although most carpenters learn their trade through an apprenticeship, some learn on the job, starting as a helper.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required. High school courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and general vocational technical training are considered useful.

Training

Most carpenters learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. In the technical training, apprentices learn carpentry basics, blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. They also may receive specialized training in creating and setting concrete forms, rigging, welding, scaffold building, working within confined workspaces, and fall protection. All carpenters must pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour safety courses.

After finishing an apprenticeship, carpenters are considered to be journey workers and may perform tasks on their own.

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications for a person to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work
  • U.S. citizen or proof of legal residency
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Some contractors have their own carpenter training program, which may be an accredited apprenticeship program.

Although many workers enter apprenticeships directly, some carpenters start out as helpers.

Some workers can earn certificates before entering an apprenticeship. The National Association of Home Builders offers Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) through the Home Builders Institute. PACT is available for several different groups, from youths to veterans, and covers information for eight construction trades, including painting.

Workers typically learn the proper use of hand and power tools on the job. They often start by working with more experienced carpenters and are given more complex tasks as they prove that they can handle simpler tasks, such as measuring and cutting wooden and metal studs.

A number of 2-year technical schools offer carpentry degrees that are affiliated with unions or contractor organizations. Credits earned as part of an apprenticeship program usually count toward an associate’s degree.

Advancement

Because they are involved in all phases of construction, carpenters usually have more opportunities than other construction workers to become first-line supervisors, independent contractors, or general construction supervisors.

Carpenters seeking advancement often take additional training provided by associations, unions, or employers. Communication in both English and Spanish also is helpful for relaying instructions to workers.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Self-employed carpenters must be able to bid on new jobs, track inventory, and plan work assignments. 

Detail oriented. Carpenters perform many tasks that are important in the overall building process. Making precise measurements, for example, may reduce gaps between windows and frames, limiting any leaks around the window.

Dexterity. Carpenters use many tools and need hand-eye coordination to avoid injury or damaging materials. Striking the head of a nail, for example, is crucial to not damaging wood or injuring oneself.

Math skills. Carpenters use basic math skills every day to calculate volume and measure materials to be cut.

Physical stamina. Carpenters need physical endurance. They frequently stand, climb, or bend for long periods.

Physical strength. Carpenters use tools and materials that are heavy. For example, plywood sheets can weigh 50 to 100 pounds.

Problem-solving skills. Because construction jobs vary, carpenters must adjust project plans accordingly. For example, if a prefabricated window arrives at the worksite slightly oversized, carpenters must shave framework to make the window fit.

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Apprentice Carpenter jobs

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Apprentice Carpenter Career Paths

Apprentice Carpenter
Journeyman Carpenter Foreman
Assistant Superintendent
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Delivery Driver Handyman
Building Superintendent
7 Yearsyrs
Carpenter Foreman Project Manager
Construction Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Lead Carpenter General Contractor
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Foreman Construction Superintendent
Construction Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Carpenter Foreman Project Manager Operations Director
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Operations Manager Plant Manager
Director Of Plant Operations
14 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Field Engineer Estimator
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Carpenter Maintenance Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Lead Carpenter Maintenance Technician Driver
Field Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Carpenter/Labour Delivery Driver Electrician
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Carpenter Foreman General Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Plumber General Contractor Construction Superintendent
Home Builder
5 Yearsyrs
Installer Lead Installer Lead Carpenter
Job Superintendent
6 Yearsyrs
Carpenter/Labour Forklift Operator Carpenter
Lead Carpenter
5 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Supervisor Painter
Lead Painter
5 Yearsyrs
Foreman Project Superintendent
Owner/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Journeyman Carpenter Carpenter Foreman Foreman
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Technician Field Engineer Project Superintendent
Project Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Electrician Foreman
Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Carpenter Foreman 5.5 years
Union Carpenter 4.7 years
Lead Carpenter 4.4 years
Carpenter 3.6 years
Building Carpenter 3.6 years
Carpenter/Painter 3.5 years
Trim Carpenter 3.4 years
Finish Carpenter 3.4 years
Framing Carpenter 2.9 years
Form Carpenter 2.9 years
Concrete Carpenter 2.8 years
Framer/Carpenter 2.8 years
Rough Carpenter 2.8 years
Carpenter/Labour 2.6 years
Carpentry 2.4 years
Framer 2.2 years
Carpenter Helper 2.0 years
Apprentice 2.0 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 9.5%
Carpenter 7.3%
Cook 6.1%
Apprentice 5.1%
Internship 4.2%
Server 4.2%
Manager 3.6%
Technician 3.6%
Painter 3.3%
Top Employers After
Carpenter 21.7%
Owner 3.8%
Foreman 3.7%
Driver 3.5%
Technician 3.4%
Installer 2.7%
Internship 2.6%

Apprentice Carpenter Demographics

Gender

Male

90.7%

Female

7.9%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

80.4%

Hispanic or Latino

12.2%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

1.2%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.9%

French

4.4%

German

4.4%

Portuguese

3.3%

Vietnamese

2.2%

Italian

2.2%

Dakota

2.2%

Polish

2.2%

Marshallese

1.1%

Swedish

1.1%

Romanian

1.1%

Hindi

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Bosnian

1.1%

Bengali

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Croatian

1.1%

Finnish

1.1%

Greek

1.1%

Carrier

1.1%
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Apprentice Carpenter Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.8%

Palomar College

7.0%

Universal Technical Institute

6.4%

Ferris State University

6.4%

College of Southern Nevada

5.7%

Montgomery College

5.1%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

5.1%

Honolulu Community College

5.1%

Sonoma State University

4.5%

Santa Rosa Junior College

4.5%

Diablo Valley College

4.5%

Southwestern Illinois College

4.5%

Glendale Community College

3.8%

Auburn University

3.8%

Everett Community College

3.8%

University of Montana

3.8%

Joliet Junior College

3.8%

Kirkwood Community College

3.8%

Orange Coast College

3.8%

Houston Community College

3.8%
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Majors

Business

21.3%

Construction Management

10.6%

General Studies

8.2%

Criminal Justice

7.9%

Precision Metal Working

4.7%

Computer Science

4.5%

Automotive Technology

4.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.2%

Education

3.4%

Drafting And Design

3.1%

Accounting

3.0%

Electrical Engineering

2.9%

Biology

2.9%

Industrial Technology

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.8%

Psychology

2.8%

Management

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering

2.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.6%

Communication

2.5%
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Degrees

Other

43.0%

Bachelors

25.9%

Associate

15.4%

Certificate

8.9%

Masters

3.6%

Diploma

2.3%

License

0.7%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills for An Apprentice Carpenter

DrywallInstallationWindowInstallationSafetyRulesCabinetInstallationSafeJobSiteBasicHandToolsDoorHardwareProjectLayoutCustomerServiceFinishCarpentrySheetrockOshaKitchenCabinetsNewConstructionDemoNailGunsBuildingPlansResidentialConstructionConstructionProjectsGeneralLabor

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Top Apprentice Carpenter Skills

  1. Drywall Installation
  2. Window Installation
  3. Safety Rules
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Steel stud Framing, Drywall Installation, Fire taping, Demolition, Material Handling, Clean Up
  • Worked on condo improvements including molding, tile, electrical and ran supervision on drywall painting and window installation.
  • Followed established safety rules and regulations and maintained a safe and clean environment.
  • Trim installation, Cabinet installation, Demolition, Addition Framing, Finish Capentry.
  • Clean work areas, machines, or equipment, to maintain a clean and safe job site.

Top Apprentice Carpenter Employers

Apprentice Carpenter Videos

I Wanna Be an Apprentice Carpenter

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