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Become A Construction Carpenter

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Working As A Construction 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

  • $42,930

    Average Salary

What Does A Construction 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 A Construction 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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Construction Carpenter jobs

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Construction Carpenter Demographics

Gender

  • Male

    94.1%
  • Female

    5.1%
  • Unknown

    0.7%

Ethnicity

  • White

    80.3%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    14.0%
  • Asian

    4.5%
  • Unknown

    0.9%
  • Black or African American

    0.4%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    83.3%
  • Hmong

    16.7%

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Real Construction Carpenter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Construction Carpenter EGS Group LLC. Feb 09, 2016 $81,869
Construction Carpenter NSW Instalation Inc. Ronkonkoma, NY Oct 23, 2015 $75,213
Construction Carpenters Metz Kitchen Bath Inc. Franklin Square, NY Nov 22, 2010 $72,628
Construction Carpenter Extel Builders, Inc. Richmond, NY Jul 12, 2011 $71,386
Construction Carpenters Kocher Construction Co. Inc. Union City, NJ May 29, 2012 $71,386
Construction Carpenter Xinos Construction Corp. NY Mar 28, 2011 $71,386
Construction Carpenters Phoenix Wood Flooring, Inc. West Long Branch, NJ Mar 03, 2010 $64,488
Construction Carpenters Roger & Sons Concrete Inc. NY May 27, 2008 $64,467
Construction Carpenter T.J Brothers Inc. Philadelphia, PA Feb 07, 2011 $63,398
Construction Carpenter Evergreen Construction Inc. Edison, NJ Mar 30, 2010 $62,547
Construction Carpenter Sebastiano Nini Inc. Hamilton, NJ May 18, 2011 $62,358
Construction Carpenter Zoltan Horvath Jr. Monmouth Junction, NJ Feb 08, 2008 $61,107
Construction Carpenters Recycling Technology Development LLC. NJ Apr 27, 2015 $60,986
Construction Carpenter Pryor Construction, Inc. Chicago, IL Mar 25, 2010 $60,899
Construction Carpenter Lizard Head Log Homes Norwood, CO Dec 10, 2007 $43,827
Construction Carpenter Fernandino and Son Inc. Farmingdale, NY Dec 04, 2009 $43,827
Construction Carpenters Dennis Letarde, Inc. Manassas, VA Aug 21, 2009 $43,451
Construction Carpenters Everest Light Gauge Systems, Inc. Springfield, VA May 05, 2009 $43,451
Construction Carpenter Fairfax Woodworking Inc. Lorton, VA Feb 17, 2010 $43,451
Construction Carpenter Wrap Top Construction, Inc. Centreville, VA Dec 28, 2011 $43,451
Construction Carpenters Home Deco Plus, Inc. Annandale, VA Apr 24, 2009 $43,451
Construction Carpenters Hyundae Electric & Construction Company, Inc. Fairfax, VA Jan 12, 2010 $43,451
Construction Carpenter T & R Construction Corp. New York, NY Oct 10, 2007 $42,262
Construction Carpenters Northridge Construction Inc. IA Mar 15, 2014 $42,178
Construction Carpenters Millennium Custom Homes Building LLC Tucson, AZ Apr 24, 2009 $41,740
Construction Carpenters Millennium Custom Homes Building LLC Tucson, AZ May 01, 2009 $41,740
Construction Carpenters Millennium Custom Homes Building LLC Tucson, AZ Oct 18, 2008 $41,740
Construction Carpenters Greg Frame Construction, Inc. CA Nov 27, 2007 $41,740
Construction Carpenters Optimum Construction, Inc. NY Sep 23, 2008 $41,636

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Top Skills for A Construction Carpenter

WindowInstallationDrywallInstallationRepairCabinetsDoorHardwareSafetyRulesBuildingPlansWoodenFixturesCleanEnvironmentProjectLayoutPlumbBOBConstructionProjectsFinishCarpentryJobSiteNewConstructionDowelPinsDefectivePartsFastenMaterialsHeavyEquipmentRemovalCustomerService

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Top Construction Carpenter Skills

  1. Window Installation
  2. Drywall Installation
  3. Repair Cabinets
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Installed sheetrock, crown molding, base boards and door hardware.
  • Followed company's established safety rules, policies, regulations and maintained a safe and clean work environment.
  • Study specifications in blueprints, sketches, or building plans to prepare project layout and determine dimensions and materials required.
  • Adjust functional parts of devices or control instruments, using hand tools, levels, plumb bobs, or straightedges.
  • Completed indoor and outdoor residential and commercial construction projects.

Top Construction Carpenter Employers

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Construction Carpenter Videos

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