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Become A Finish Carpenter

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Working As A Finish 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

  • $43,848

    Average Salary

What Does A Finish 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 Finish 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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Finish Carpenter jobs

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Finish Carpenter Career Paths

Finish Carpenter
Foreman Operations Manager General Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Engineering Technician Engineer
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Lead Carpenter Project Manager
Construction Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Welder Fitter Foreman
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Operation Supervisor Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Technician Operations Manager Plant Manager
Director Of Plant Operations
14 Yearsyrs
Technician Instructor Assistant Director
Environmental Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Installer Foreman Estimator
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Installer Forklift Operator Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Journeyman Carpenter Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Construction Superintendent Construction Supervisor Lead Carpenter
Job Superintendent
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Forklift Operator Carpenter
Lead Carpenter
5 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Construction Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
General Contractor Project Superintendent
Owner/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Lead Carpenter Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Journeyman Carpenter Carpenter Foreman Foreman
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Quality Control Inspector
Quality Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Foreman Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Finish Carpenter Demographics

Gender

Male

94.9%

Female

3.9%

Unknown

1.2%
Ethnicity

White

82.6%

Hispanic or Latino

10.4%

Asian

5.3%

Unknown

1.1%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.8%

German

8.1%

Russian

8.1%

Portuguese

5.4%

French

5.4%

Irish

2.7%

Dakota

2.7%

Choctaw

2.7%

Polish

2.7%

Thai

2.7%

Korean

2.7%
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Finish Carpenter Education

Schools

Utah Valley University

9.4%

Boise State University

7.7%

Weber State University

7.7%

Palomar College

6.0%

University of Phoenix

6.0%

Idaho State University

6.0%

Brigham Young University

5.1%

Macomb Community College

5.1%

Salt Lake Community College

5.1%

Bakersfield College

4.3%

Kaplan University

4.3%

Universal Technical Institute

4.3%

Northeastern University

4.3%

Ball State University

4.3%

Montana State University - Bozeman

3.4%

Saint Cloud Technical College

3.4%

University of Washington

3.4%

Pima Community College

3.4%

Sierra College

3.4%

Lane Community College

3.4%
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Majors

Business

20.4%

Construction Management

10.2%

Drafting And Design

7.8%

General Studies

6.3%

Computer Science

4.9%

Education

4.5%

Precision Metal Working

4.1%

Automotive Technology

4.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

Criminal Justice

3.7%

Liberal Arts

3.7%

Graphic Design

3.5%

Industrial Technology

3.1%

Property Management

3.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Management

2.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.9%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.7%

Accounting

2.7%

Psychology

2.4%
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Degrees

Other

43.9%

Bachelors

22.5%

Associate

19.1%

Certificate

7.8%

Masters

3.3%

Diploma

2.7%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Real Finish Carpenter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Finish Carpenter Tarcon General Contracting Co. Inc. Yonkers, NY Sep 26, 2016 $81,869
Finish Carpenter Castro's Carpentry Corp. Hempstead, NY Oct 25, 2016 $75,629
Finish Carpenter Eppley Building & Design Inc. Hawthorne, NJ Mar 05, 2015 $75,150
Finish Carpenter Legacy Building & Development Corporation Somerville, MA Feb 08, 2016 $73,000
Finish Carpenter Holger Carvajal Hillside, NJ Aug 11, 2016 $72,675
Finish Carpenter Affiliated Restoration Contractors, Inc. Chicago, IL Jul 25, 2012 $71,240
Finish Carpenter Gryphon Construction Ltd. New York, NY Oct 07, 2009 $70,269
Finish Carpenter White Eagle Architectural Woodworking Wallington, NJ Jun 28, 2010 $65,594
Caroenter, Finish Arco Construction Garfield, NJ Sep 05, 2008 $65,594
Finish Carpenter Handy Dandy Workshop Db/A Luxor General Contractin New York, NY Dec 03, 2009 $57,935
Finish Carpenter A & M NR. 1 Construction Homer Glen, IL Oct 30, 2007 $55,994
Finish Carpenter Morgan-Heller Associates Inc. Pontiac, MI Mar 03, 2016 $55,474
Finish Carpenter Gemini Restoration, Inc. Union, NJ May 24, 2010 $53,448
Finishing Carpenter 360 Degree Construction North Plainfield, NJ Feb 04, 2010 $53,448
Finishing Carpenter Tar LLC Lakewood, NJ Mar 23, 2010 $52,050
Finishing Carpenter Tar LLC Lakewood, NJ Aug 29, 2011 $52,050
Finish Carpenter Custom Pro Corp Highland Park, NJ Mar 16, 2010 $52,050
Finish Carpenter D.C.M. Construction Inc. Burbank, IL Feb 07, 2011 $51,403
Finished Carpenter Hollosi Home Improvements Milltown, NJ Mar 11, 2008 $51,257
Finished Carpenter Hollosi Home Improvements Milltown, NJ Feb 20, 2009 $51,257
Finish Carpenter R&D Furniture, Inc. Garfield, NJ Apr 11, 2015 $47,278
Finish Carpenter Thomas Jerome Inc. NY Feb 19, 2009 $45,914
Finish Carpenter Mixbud Construction, Inc. Hicksville, NY Feb 23, 2010 $43,326
Finish Carpenter ENP Construction LLC Westport, NY May 24, 2011 $41,886 -
$43,827
Finish Carpenter General Hardwoods & Millwork, Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL Apr 02, 2009 $41,740
Finish Carpenter Knight & Grabowski Construction LLC Stamford, CT Feb 15, 2008 $41,490
Finish Carpenter Affiliated Restoration Contractors, Inc. Chicago, IL Jun 09, 2011 $38,938
Finish Carpenter W & G Flooring, Inc. Burbank, IL Jan 06, 2011 $38,938
Finish Carpenter Nader Homes, Inc. NJ Mar 20, 2008 $38,317
Finish Carpenter Miracle Home Improvements Croton-on-Hudson, NY Apr 09, 2015 $37,898

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Top Skills for A Finish Carpenter

CustomCabinetsWindowInstallationCustomHomesFinishCarpentryDoorHardwareDrywallInstallationKitchenCabinetsSafetyRulesHandToolsProjectLayoutBathroomVanitiesNewConstructionHardwoodFloorsBaseBoardsJobSiteHighEndHomesCounterTopsInstallCabinetsCustomerServiceSheetrock

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Top Finish Carpenter Skills

  1. Custom Cabinets
  2. Window Installation
  3. Custom Homes
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Build custom cabinets per customer specifications.
  • Finish carpentry, shelf hanging, window installation, cabinets, hardware installation , etc.
  • Finish Carpentry, Custom Homes, 3 employees serving the Cleveland suburbs.
  • Teamed with five laborers to construct houses and additions; completed renovations Entrusted with finish carpentry for contracts
  • Installed cabinetry, entry and interior doors, commercial entry doors, and door hardware in both commercial and residential buildings.

Top Finish Carpenter Employers

Finish Carpenter Videos

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