How Do I Become A Carpenter?

If you like to build things, you may be wondering how to become a carpenter. Carpenters are professional builders who develop skills working with wood and other materials. Carpenters may build furniture or essential parts of buildings, including walls and staircases. Installation may also fall under a carpenter’s duties, so they should know how to work with materials like drywall, cabinets, siding, cement and scaffolding. Some carpenters construct whole buildings from a blueprint, while others work on small- or large-scale renovations, repairs and maintenance. Carpenters may work on internal or external parts of a building.

There are various types of carpenters. A residential carpenter primarily constructs or remodels buildings that people will live in, like houses and apartment and condominium buildings. A commercial carpenter builds and renovates buildings used for business purposes, including office buildings, public buildings like schools and hospitals, and stores, malls and hotels. An industrial carpenter constructs structures other than buildings. Industrial carpenters do the preparatory and construction work for structures like tunnels, dams and bridges.

Carpenters construct and finish foundations, roofs, ceilings, indoor and outdoor walls, staircases and decks. Some specialize in installing trim, molding and other decorative work. Others install carpet, tile, and hardwood floors. Some carpenters build or install cabinets, while others work primarily with concrete. “Finish carpenters” do precise work, like making furniture, cabinets or models, that resembles fine woodworking.

Carpenters do a good deal of manual work and working with their hands, so they must possess dexterity and hand-eye coordination to correctly use hand tools and the physical capacity to lift and move heavy loads of material. They should be comfortable working outdoors and being physically active during their workday. Because a carpenter’s responsibilities vary so widely, they also need to know what heavy machinery and power tools to use for certain projects and how to use them safely. They must also possess the mathematics skills to measure materials and calculate relevant information. Aspiring carpenters should pay attention to details and have strong problem-solving skills.

In the United States, some carpenters learn their trade through on-the-job experience under the supervision of a seasoned carpenter. Apprentice-style training frequently can be completed in three to four years. Aspiring carpenters can seek a registered apprenticeship through the United States Department of Labor Education and Training Administration, or they can contact their local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. for more information.

Formal education is also available for aspiring carpenters. Some technical and trade schools and community colleges offer two-year associate degree programs that teach students basic and specialized skills of the carpentry trade. These programs may include an internship, externship or apprenticeship. Professional carpenters can take courses through organizations like The Associated General Contractors of America or The United Brotherhood of Carpenters to further their skills and learn management and safety skills.

Carpentry is an industry that is consistently in demand. If you enjoy working with your hands and building things, knowing how to become a carpenter can get you on your way to an exciting career.

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