Job description

Carpenters construct, repair and install building frameworks and infrastructures such as partitions, kitchen cabinets, bridges and highways. By following blueprints and building plans, they build using a variety of materials including wood, plastic and fiberglass. They also use tools like levels, chisels and nail guns to put materials together.

Construction carpenters deal with wood, plywood and wallboard structures, while rough carpenters handle concrete forms like scaffolds or bridges.

Duties

    • Follow blueprints and building plans
    • Measure wood, plastic, drywall and fibreglass
    • Cut and shape wood, plastic, drywall and fibreglass
    • Install structures such as kitchen cabinets and wardrobes
    • Lay out floorings, roofings or drywalls
    • Construct building frameworks like walls and stairways
    • Build and repair large infrastructure using cranes and scaffolding
    • Insulate homes and office buildings
    • Analyse and repair damaged frameworks and infrastructures
    • Guide and train other construction workers

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Physical stamina
Attention to detail
Dexterity
Mathematics
Problem-solving
Mechanical drawing
Critical thinking
Communication
Precision

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights and weekends occasionally

Carpenters work in both indoor and outdoor settings on a wide range of construction projects. They may work inside a house or office, installing cabinets or stairways, or outside on roads building bridges or tunnels.

This role can be tiring and physically demanding, as you carry and lift heavy materials and kneel in cramped spaces. Working outdoors also means dealing with unwanted weather conditions such as rain and wind.

There is a risk of danger, especially when climbing high infrastructures and using cranes. Lifting heavy materials and using sharp tools and objects can also cause injuries. Nevertheless, carpenters wear protective gear when building and constructing such as boots, hardhats and protective eyewear.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$29k

Median

$47k

Top 10%

$83k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High school

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

1year

When applying for a carpenter role, a high school diploma is usually required with completed courses in related subjects like mathematics and mechanical drawing. There are technical schools that offer associate degrees in carpentry, but this is not necessary when applying for the trade.

Carpenters generally learn on the job alongside a more experienced carpenter. However, previous experience as construction labourers or helpers are greatly respected.

There’s the option of participating in apprenticeship programmes which will make you more likely to get a job in this field. They generally consist of 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training.

It is obligatory to pass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-hour safety courses. There are also certifications to obtain for further enhancement such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) offered by the Home Builders Institute.

Most carpenters need a driver’s licence, as the majority of the role involves travelling to job sites.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

8%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

83.8k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

72%

Career progression

As a carpenter, you can advance to different areas of construction. For instance, with enough experience and skill, you can go from being a construction carpenter to a rough carpenter. This greatly develops your portfolio.

Carpenters also have the prospect of progressing to higher positions such as first-line supervisor, construction manager, independent contractor or civil engineer.