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Carpenter


Description

Carpentry is one of those skills that has been around for thousands of years, and even though the world becomes more computerized each day, carpentry will never be a career of the past.

Carpenters work in residential, commercial and industrial construction, as well as in maintenance. They build wooden frameworks, walls, roofs and other skeleton forms, as well as install doors, windows, flooring, cabinets, stairs, handrails, paneling, moulding and ceiling tiles. They go beyond woodwork, too. They build concrete forms, scaffolding, bridges, trestles, tunnels, shelters and even towers. They not only build these things, but they can repair them all, too.

Carpenters work from blueprints, arranging for the materials, work sequence and measurements. They cut and shape all materials to be used, endeavoring to avoid costly mistakes or dangerous miscalculations. And they put it all together, in tight, accurate and safe ways. Carpenters always follow national and local building codes, protecting the safety of future inhabitants, as well as fellow workers.

Some carpenters prefer to work in more creative ways. They specialize in framework, benchmark, or finishing work. They take their time and create attractive, functional woodpieces for the constructions. These experts are just as important as the ones who make the strong, wooden skeleton frames of our homes. Not only do we need to feel safe in strong homes, but we need to feel relaxed in esthetically pleasing homes, as well.

Carpenters are special. Not everyone has what it takes to work with wood in such a way. It requires grand scope of vision, as well as the ability to do fine, precise work. It is creative as well as logical, and it's a craft that is not going anywhere anytime soon.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$34,195
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
n/a

  Interests and Skills  
To be successful at their jobs, carpenters should be strong, with enough stamina to stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time. They should have good manual dexterity, as well as good balance (for working on scaffolding). They should be able to solve arithmetic problems quickly and accurately, as well as be able to get along well with others on a work team. Carpenters need to be creative and enjoy working with their hands.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Take instructions from a supervisor or architect
  • Read blueprints
  • Review building codes
  • Select appropriate materials
  • Plan work schedule
  • Measure materials to avoid costly mistakes or omissions
  • Cut and shape materials
  • Join pieces with nails, screws, bolts or glue
  • Check completed units to be sure they are the right size and in the right location
  • Supervise assistants
  • Carpenters take on a lot of tasks. They work with homes, building whole structures, as well as intricate wooden pieces. They are required to use creativity, strength, manual dexterity, and patience. They work outdoors when it is appropriate, and travel within their community for different jobs.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Carpenters work for construction companies, carpentry contractors, architectural firms, and in the maintenance departments of factories, plants and other organizations. They may also be self-employed.
  • They may work alone, or in teams. They may work long hours, especially if trying to meet a deadline. They can set their own hours if they work independently, but most tend to work in the early mornings, and keep at it until late in the day.
  • They are at risk of injury from slips and falls and sharp hand and power tools. Some days, they may work primarily indoors, while on others, they may work primarily outdoors. Carpenters who focus on small projects may find more work all year long, while those who help put up framework for homes will have a hard time finding work in the depths of winter.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Carpenters may advance to foreman and construction superintendent position, or may decide to open up their own carpentry company. Some may transfer their skills to related occupations such as cabinetmaker or lather-interior systems mechanic. Others may teach carpentry, or write books about it. Some may even train to become architects.
 

  Educational Paths  
Carpenters receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a carpenter, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position however wages are about 50% less than what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the carpenter a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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